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:
Nov 15, 2014
Keishi looks a lot like it did when Toshiko Nakamura first moved there four decades ago. The quiet farming community in Nagano Prefecture is a patchwork of verdant rice fields, lush kitchen gardens and picturesque post-and-beam houses nestled between pine and chestnut trees on the slopes of Mount Hijiri. Although it's officially part of the prefectural capital, Keishi seems to belong to a different century than the busy city center an hour's drive away.
Mar 15, 2014
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 seen in 65 million years; and in many places, key resources such as water and topsoil are dwindling fast.
Mar 1, 2014
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 region, they established a dig and began to search for pollen and seeds from ancient plants (among other buried treasures).
Feb 8, 2014
Jan 18, 2014
"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, fires and droughts they will likely face in coming years.
Nov 16, 2013
Sep 14, 2013
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, with a handmade wooden chair on it inviting visitors to take a rest. Imprinted in its plaster walls are stars made of wheat, pumpkin-seed hearts — and a fragment of a poem by Rumi, a 13th-century Persian mystic, spelled out in buckwheat: "Unfold your own myth."
Aug 17, 2013
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 wood with soil; then top it all with trees.
Jul 20, 2013
Apr 21, 2013
Spend a while walking the streets of any Japanese city and you are bound to notice it: Here and there among the concrete towers, shops and bustling streets, you'll find clusters of trees. In some places, five or 10 stately Japanese cedars provide a patch of welcome shade. In others a full-fledged urban jungle hums, in season, with cicadas, honeybees and songbirds. You might even spot a few trees belted with ropes of twisted straw and hung with white paper ornaments.
Mar 17, 2013
One day in October 2011, marine ecologist Masahiro Nakaoka donned his scuba gear, paddled into the waters of Funakoshi Bay in Iwate Prefecture, and braced himself for his first glimpse of its underwater communities since a massive tsunami triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake swept through seven months earlier, on March 11.
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