Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Kyoto Journal/Heian-Kyo Media's latest special publication, on Japan's present and future energy policies-- released on the day angry citizens surrounded the Japanese parliament buildings to demand an end to nuclear power.

"Fukushima has raised, once again, the perennial questions about human fallibility and human frailty, about hubris and man's arrogance in thinking he can control nature. The earthquakes, the tsunami, the meltdown at Japan’s nuclear power plant are nature’s reminders of her power… Alternatives to nuclear energy are a thousand times more abundant and a million times less risky. To push nuclear plants after Fukushima is pure insanity."
— Vandana Shiva

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


"Help us send the kids in Fukushima to camp.

The TA team with children in Fukushima

Because of the Nuclear Plant Disaster, 
the lives of the children in Fukushima 
have been turned upside down. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012


I was hoping this year to avoid getting physically involved with my zucchini, as I have tended to do in the past - it’s difficult to end some relationships, what can I say. But zucchini have needs. It is said that successful pollination of squash blossoms requires an average of ten pollinators, which seems a lot to ask, up here in the woods where zukes have never lived, historically.

This year, therefore, since in my ongoing naivete I planted a few zuke varieties, to ensure an optimal number of natural pollinators I planted a borage plant right beside each zuke patch, knowing that borage is a top bee attractor cum edible herb; plus the blossoms, which have “a sweet honey-like taste [are] one of the few truly blue-colored edible substances,” as Wikipedia puts it (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borage).  The blossoms also look great floating on my wine. Not far behind borage in pollinator attraction is the nasturtium, which - in addition to its bright varicolored beauty - provides edible blossoms, leaves and capery seed buds.

Looked like a sure win-win, but as I often learn in the Big Vegas of Life, that jogging tunnel is
just a painting on that stone wall. Apparently there hasn’t been a succulent full-grown borage plant up here on the mountain for a million years or so, because a few mornings after my two magnificent borage plants neared their full height, those big beautiful blossom-bunches were toppled into caterpillar fodder and the succulent leaves were the ghost of lace. It was a savage sight to see; better to turn away and think of pleasant things.

So bye-bye pollinators, if you were ever here. Within a week or so the nasturtiums had completely disappeared beneath the lush canopy of zucchini leaves over the dark rain forest of vigorous zuke stems and yearning male blossoms and the occasional coy female, but no zucchini.   

Now I have to go out there early in the morning at open blossom time and physically introduce some wallflower male blossoms to some comely female zucchini blossoms, who are all just hanging around under there hoping for quick fruition. This kind of sordid activity can make one cynical, but more importantly, what if my neighbors see me? “Morning, Bob!”

Erotically speaking, though, Japan is a way old culture. I’m sure they’ve seen every strange thing at one time or another, though perhaps not this type of thing, especially involving a foreigner.

I’ll do my best to represent the West.

Monday, July 09, 2012


I didn't see the whole thing, didn't catch the name of the small town, just saw the last bit of a news report I guess it was, then it was gone; clicked in right where some Japanese schoolgirls age 12~13 were walking cheerily along a just-cleared road amidst mounds of tsunami destruction in one of the severely afflicted towns, a place of narrow valleys among small steep mountains where folks still live at heights the tsunami hadn't reached.

As the girls walked along they tossed a volley ball up into the air, chatting and playing, passing through the devastation they had just survived. They were on their way to a playground somewhere, I thought, taking that to be the point of this little clip: have hope, don't give up, get some fun, live on and brighten-- until they arrived at a rare surviving building, slid back the door and entered, put down the ball and each shouldered an old-fashioned basket backpack that was heavy with something. They then departed and with their burdens began walking once more, this time in twos up the steep ways that threaded the sides of the mountains and led to houses up there, mostly occupied by elderly folks cut off from a world that is no more, a world erased as far as they could see.

As the girls neared each house they called out a friendly hello, said their names and Here's lunch! From within came a glad response, the pair then entering to bring a meal to one or more elderly folks who had been waiting. Thus the girls went from house to house, calling friendly greetings and being welcomed with happiness. In this way they were meeting the elderly people in their town, folks they would otherwise never have known but now were visiting daily, knew now by name and feeling, saying good morning not by rote but in a friendly, even familial way, bringing food and new companionship to these elders who in their lonely places were grateful… 

At each house they'd chat a bit, those elders now having two young girls in their daily lives, like family, bringing them aid without obligation, in return the girls having all these grandmas and grandpas; the girls do this every day and they like it, they like the smiles that greet them and the cheer they cause, the chatting with and helping all the elders only yesterday absent from their lives, as it is also for the elders, who are joyed to have youngsters come to their home and relate to them personally, in a caring way -- it was uplifting to behold. 

This is the way it should be, these young women happy to be giving a gift that is more than just the food they bring, each day doing wonders that they never thought of before, in turn receiving the gift that many never come to in all their lives: the understanding that elders need the young, but the young need elders just as much. How better to uplift a society than by such ways as this? Things should be like this, things should always be like this: no distance between the generations, no life without their touch. 

On they go even now, the girls among the smiles, beyond the end of that brief part I saw-- they lift up all those lives with their baskets of food, their warmth and words, happy in calling out Good morning! Hello! See you again tomorrow! and going on their way, up to the next neighbor on the mountain. They are heroes, those girls, to themselves and to us all, even to those who have not seen this little story. 

I will never forget them, walking through that wreckage, rich with future, on their way to share that wealth with those who yesterday were isolated strangers having nothing but a roof and what was left of life, who thanks to the girls have lived to see beauty rise from devastation with a shout of greeting and the wave of a hand, living proof each new day that the heart holds more light than darkness--

As if to give some other depth to the value of this task, at the end of the clip the adult female reporter, who has been following the girls around the mountain paths for the story, one morning tries on one of the baskets filled with bento lunches and staggers backward at the heaviness...


This ramble appears in Kyoto Journal's first digital issue, #76, a fine publication to be released just as soon as the magazine's long-awaited new website is finally launched. Meanwhile, KJ is best tracked here: http://www.facebook.com/kyoto.journal