Seed bank sprouts support a-plenty

| Sep 14, 2013

Seed bank sprouts support a-plenty

by Winifred Bird

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, ...

Olympic stars of the future look forward to 2020

| Sep 14, 2013

Olympic stars of the future look forward to 2020

by Edan Corkill

Thursday night was warm and clear in Yokohama. A cloudless, gradually darkening sky stretched over the 400-meter track at the Yamato Sports Center — seemingly boundless in its ability to absorb the shouts and laughter coming from the 20 boisterous young members of the ...

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

| Aug 17, 2013

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

by Winifred Bird

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 ...

Image-flip for male rhythmic gymnasts

| Aug 17, 2013

Image-flip for male rhythmic gymnasts

by Tomoko Otake

Smirks and snickering tend to greet any mention of “men’s rhythmic gymnastics,” as the phrase conjures up images of chaps in tights prancing around swinging ribbons or clutching squeezy balls to their chests like the sport’s female exponents. That couldn’t be further from the ...

On the trail of bear hunters' heritage

| Jul 20, 2013

On the trail of bear hunters' heritage

by Tomoko Otake

Takashi Yoshikawa is no easy man to figure out. Trim and well tanned, the 63-year-old owns a small ryokan (traditional inn) nestled in the foothills of the beautiful Shirakami Mountains which straddle 130,000 hectares of Aomori and Akita prefectures, and whose 17,000 hectares of ...

Insecticides pit trees against bees

| Jun 16, 2013

Insecticides pit trees against bees

by Winifred Bird

“That’s where they’re going to spray.” Organic farmer Naoki Tachikawa, 43, is standing on the edge of one of his tiny rice fields in the Shiga district of Matsumoto, central Nagano Prefecture, pointing at two low hills that embrace the upper reaches of the ...