• Spring
      • video

        Finding the Flow from Kansai to Kochi

        Shikoku’s many mountains, valleys and proximity to the ocean has made it a hidden gem for rafting, kayaking and canyoning enthusiasts willing to take a step or two further from the Golden Route of Kyoto and Osaka.

        Solace and Giant Salamanders in Akiota

        Just beyond Hiroshima City is a tranquil outdoor destination home to some of Japan's last remaining oosanshouo, the elusive giant salamander.
        Kyoto Oni Trail Outdoor Japanvideo

        The Oni Trail: Hiking Coastal Kyoto

        The mystical oni is prevalent in Japanese children’s stories, usually as a way to scare kids straight. Adventure Travel Kyoto is shedding a new light on this folklore and developing a new hiking route in the countryside of Kyoto.
    • Summer
    • Autumn
      • Pow Bar Founder Megumi Scott

        Beyond the Brand: Pow Bar

        An interview with Megumi Scott, the founder of Niseko brand Pow Bar.
        Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
    • Winter
    • Near Tokyo
    • Near Kyoto
      • video

        Finding the Flow from Kansai to Kochi

        Shikoku’s many mountains, valleys and proximity to the ocean has made it a hidden gem for rafting, kayaking and canyoning enthusiasts willing to take a step or two further from the Golden Route of Kyoto and Osaka.
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    • River and Lake
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
    • Snow and Ice
    • Travel
    • Food and Drinks
    • Races and Events

Eco Corner: Choices for Sustainable Lifestyles

Eco Architect

Frank Lloyd Wright


Arguably the greatest and most influential architect of the 20th century, Frank Lloyd Wright was also the godfather of eco-architecture. In 1908, 100 years ahead of his time, he proposed the concept of “organic architecture,” advocating simple materials in their natural state. His glass, stone, concrete and wood creations allowed the surrounding natural environment to be felt and experienced within the buildings. With disdaining walls that separate people from nature, his homes integrate the occupants with nature and seem to grow out of the land on which they are built.

Wright lived in Japan from 1916 until 1922, building the Imperial Palace Hotel in Tokyo, the Jiyu Gakuen School and four private homes. To really understand the natural genius of a Wright home, you should visit one. Jiyu Gaku is still open in Hibarigaoka, Tokyo (www.jiyu.ac.jp). The Imperial Hotel was demolished in 1968 but part of it was rebuilt at Meiji Mura Park near Nagoya. It is a great weekend trip, and the park has authentic period architecture from all over Japan (www.meijimura.com).

Eco Printing

Soy Ink


Ink has been around for nearly 5,000 years, made from all types of things from metals and berries to soot and squid. Petroleum-based ink, loaded with toxic heavy metals, became the norm in the 1960s, but rising oil process (prices?) and OPEC trouble in the 1970s led commercial printers to search for an alternative. Soy ink was developed as a renewable and more environmentally friendly option and is now used in 60 percent of commercial printing.

Keep an eye out for the “Printed with Soy Ink” label. Benefits supposedly include easier paper recycling, brighter colors and longer life span for printers. The one statistic I haven’t seen mentioned is how many thousands of acres are in non-organic production to grow all those beans. So, if you want to really save the world, how about starting an organic non-GMO ink farm? The market is wide open and waiting.

Eco Off-Season

Cleaning the Slopes


Do skiers and snowboarders feel a little guilty about all that diesel fuel burning to run the lifts? Well, they should. Rather than just feeling guilty, be pro-active. The gang at eco-s gathers shredders from all over Japan to do some off-season mountain cleanup as well as fertilizing and planting the slopes in summer to help improve the environment and reduce erosion. (Excessive runoff from slopes can ruin streams and rivers.)

Give a little back to the mountains which provide so much for us. Get in touch with eco-s and visit with some friends; you’ll be glad when you hit the slopes this winter.

Eco Car

ZAP-X (by Lotus)


I try to be so eco but, like it or not, I love big, fast cars. Every day I watch the Mercedes speed by at 6 mpg and think, if only I could make one of those solar-powered. Well, the guys at ZAP who brought us that electric bike back in OJ Issue 3 have come a long way in the last year.

They are now taking advanced orders for the all-electric, five-seat, ZAP-X Crossover. Engineered by Lotus. 644 hp! Zero to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds! Capable of 155 mph, sexier than a Porsche Cayenne, 350-mile range, and a 10-minute re-charge time! And all-electric means you can power it with solar if you get enough panels.

Too good to be true? Yep, but I have seen the prototype and have already sent in my order. Wanna race?

Jacob Reiner is an Eco Architect and director of Earth Embassy and the Solar Café. For more information on sustainable life-styles and eco living, visit www.earthembassy.org.

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