Winifred Bird

Freelance environmental journalist Winifred Bird writes for publications including The Japan Times, Dwell, and the Christian Science Monitor. Originally from San Francisco, she lives in rural Nagano Prefecture with her husband, dog and flock of ducks.

For Winifred Bird's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

All change — for a Transition Town near you

Mar 15, 2014

All change — for a Transition Town near you

For anyone who cares about nature — or their own future — Earth in the 21st century can be a worrying place to live. The planet is warming and climate-related disasters are growing more frequent; plants and animals are going extinct at rates not ...

Visit Japan's ancient past in urban Kyushu

Mar 1, 2014

Visit Japan's ancient past in urban Kyushu

Back in the late 1970s, the city planners of Karatsu, a fishing community on the northern coast of Kyushu, decided to build a new road. This provided a rare opportunity for local archaeologists. Seizing the chance to burrow with abandon in the densely developed ...

Culture and nature vie over ancient hinoki

Feb 15, 2014

Culture and nature vie over ancient hinoki

If you’re looking for a fine piece of wood, you’d be hard put to improve on a slab of hinoki (Hinoki cypress, Chamaecyparis obtusa) from the Kiso Valley straddling Nagano and Gifu prefectures. The sparsely populated district is home to the only natural hinoki ...

Kamikazes live on at their Chiran base

Feb 8, 2014

Kamikazes live on at their Chiran base

As a child growing up in California in the 1980s, I learned my share of Japanese words. Sushi, which my family would get for a treat on birthdays. Mochi (chewy rice cake), ramen and karaoke — all encountered at the Japanese shopping arcade downtown. ...

Jan 18, 2014

Will Japan prepared mean nature ruined?

“Resilience” is a hot topic these days — not in self-help books, but among policymakers worldwide. As governments become convinced that climate change is a real threat, they are taking steps to ensure communities can bounce back from the increasing impact of floods, storms, ...

Tsunami debris scuppers expert ecology opinion

Dec 14, 2013

Tsunami debris scuppers expert ecology opinion

The dock arrived almost like a gift, not quite on the doorstep of Dr. John Chapman, but on a beach 8 km from his office at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center, on the western coast of the United States. It was massive: ...

Writer-farmer seeks hope in country life's future

Nov 16, 2013

Writer-farmer seeks hope in country life's future

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his administration have recently been mulling major changes to the country’s farm policy. The move comes against the backdrop of high production costs and average farm size not having grown much since 1965. For decades the government has used ...

Countryside campaigner for us all

Oct 19, 2013

Countryside campaigner for us all

In the mid-1970s, Souichi Yamashita, a farmer in northern Kyushu who also writes books about rural Japan, got to know a young man named Yutaka Une. Une had just started work there as an agricultural outreach officer with the Fukuoka prefectural government — and ...

Seed bank sprouts support a-plenty

| Sep 14, 2013

Seed bank sprouts support a-plenty

In a sunny corner of Tomoko and Kenji Usui’s garden, surrounded by marigolds and goldenrod, there stands a peculiar little house. The thatched roof is tall and pointy like a witch’s hat, with flowers growing around the brim. The porch is wide and shady, ...

How green is Tohoku's 'Green Connections' project?

| Aug 17, 2013

How green is Tohoku's 'Green Connections' project?

On its surface, the plan seems like an environmentalist’s dream come true: Take wreckage from the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in the Tohoku region of Honshu and pile it along the washed-out coastline; cover the crumbled concrete and broken ...