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 Winifred Bird

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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:
Japan Times
PODCAST / deep dive
Feb 16, 2022
Where the wild things grow — foraging in Japan
Winifred Bird is the author of "Eating Wild Japan," a book that goes deep into the foraging culture of Japan and contains essays on foraging, a selection of recipes and a guide to forageable plants.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Art
Sep 1, 2015
Poster woman for the war against the U.S.-led TPP
For Yoko Inoue, art is like a bomb: Throw it into a crowded street and the truth just might explode out of it.
Japan Times
ENVIRONMENT
Nov 15, 2014
Shrinking well: Is depopulation affecting Japan's energy, climate goals?
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.
Japan Times
ENVIRONMENT
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 seen in 65 million years; and in many places, key resources such as water and topsoil are dwindling fast.
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
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 region, they established a dig and began to search for pollen and seeds from ancient plants (among other buried treasures).
Japan Times
ENVIRONMENT
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.
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
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.
ENVIRONMENT
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, fires and droughts they will likely face in coming years.
Japan Times
ENVIRONMENT
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.
Japan Times
ENVIRONMENT
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.
Japan Times
ENVIRONMENT
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.
Japan Times
LIFE / WEEK 3
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, 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."
Japan Times
LIFE / WEEK 3
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 wood with soil; then top it all with trees.
Japan Times
ENVIRONMENT / WEEK 3
Jul 20, 2013
Fuji meet wrestles with issues common to commons worldwide
Last month, just before the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization announced Mount Fuji's designation as a World Cultural Heritage Site for its religious and artistic significance, 430 learned visitors descended on its lower northern slopes.
Japan Times
ENVIRONMENT / WEEK 3
Jun 16, 2013
Insecticides pit trees against bees
"That's where they're going to spray."
Japan Times
LIFE / Travel
Jun 2, 2013
Searching for Mount Fuji
Japan is full of good place names. Who can resist Utsukushigahara (Beautiful Field) in Nagano Prefecture, Ginza (Golden Seat) in Tokyo or the sad irony of Fukushima u2014 Isle of Good Fortune?
Japan Times
ENVIRONMENT / WEEK 3
May 19, 2013
The other costs of concrete
Where does concrete come from? The material has become such a pervasive symbol of human alienation from nature that it's tempting to assume it's just another brutish product of the 18th-century Industrial Revolution.
Japan Times
LIFE / WEEK 3
Apr 21, 2013
New moves to save Japan's sacred trees from a fiery end
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.
Japan Times
LIFE / WEEK 3
Mar 17, 2013
Tohoku coast faces man-made perils in wake of tsunami
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.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives
Mar 10, 2013
Two years on, Fukushima evacuees seek justice and a normal life
Living in a tiny temporary house isn't all bad.

Longform

At the Akan International Crane Center, just north of the city of Kushiro proper, visitors can see the majestic red-crowned crane — a symbol of Hokkaido.
Faces of the north: A Hokkaido town grapples with depopulation