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    • Spring
      • Eating Wild in Japan

        Eating Wild in Japan

        Winifred Bird's latest book is an introduction to the world of sansai (mountain vegetables) and foraging in Japan.
        Niseko flying Hokkaido

        Bird’s Eye View of Hokkaido

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        Chase the cherry blossoms north and enjoy five of Tohoku’s best hikes this spring.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor Activities in Japan

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.

        Haga Farm Spring Glamping in Tochigi

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    • Summer
      • Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Following the Paper Trail in Kochi

        Discover the traditional art of washi papermaking in Kochi with artist Rogier Uitenboogaart.
        Climbing Mt. Fuji Outdoor Japan

        Peaking in 2021: Climbing Mt. Fuji

        Thinking of climbing Mt. Fuji this summer? We talk to Mt. Fuji guides on best practices for scaling Japan's highest mountain.

        Japan Camping Guide

        Check out our picks all the way from Hokkaido to the Okinawa Islands and then plot your perfect Japan camping adventure.
        Japan's Digital Nomads Van Life in Japan

        Japan’s Digital Nomads

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        Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

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        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
    • Autumn
      • Pow Bar Founder Megumi Scott

        Beyond the Brand: Pow Bar

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        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.
        Kawazu

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    • Winter
      • Early Bird 2021-22 Japan Ski

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        Pacific Solo

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    • Near Tokyo
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    • Ocean and Beach
      • 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.
        Kawazu

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        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
        Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

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        Outdoor Japan Shimoda

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        Niseko flying Hokkaido

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        video

        Shikoku Road Trip: Kochi ...

        Mountainous forests and coastal towns dominate most of the prefecture, where visitors will find enterprising locals and nature guides working to revitalize their communities. Shikoku’s winding roads are best explored by car.
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
    • Snow and Ice
      • Matagi Akita Tohoku Sustainable Living

        Tracking Akita’s Matagi Hunters

        Akita in the northern Tohoku region is home to the Matagi, hunters who follow an ancient and sustainable way of hunting, foraging and life.
        Early Bird 2021-22 Japan Ski

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        Don't miss out on these early bird season pass and lift package deals for Japan's ski resorts.
    • Travel
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        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
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        Akita in the northern Tohoku region is home to the Matagi, hunters who follow an ancient and sustainable way of hunting, foraging and life.
        Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

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

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        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
        Matagi Akita Tohoku Sustainable Living

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        Akita in the northern Tohoku region is home to the Matagi, hunters who follow an ancient and sustainable way of hunting, foraging and life.
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        2021 Summer Music Festivals in Japan

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        Summer Events Fireworks Festivals in Japan

        2021 Fireworks Festivals in Japan

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        Summer Festivals in Japan

        2021 Summer Festivals in Japan

        Enjoy these traditional matsuri festivals throughout Japan this summer.

Daichi: A Small Shop Built on Big Ideas

Nakatsu is a small city of 85,000 in Kyushu’s Oita Prefecture about halfway between the famous hot springs of Beppu to the east and the modern metropolis of Fukuoka to the west. A few years ago my wife, Miho, took a teaching position here. I, not gainfully employed myself, spent a lot of time exploring Nakatsu and the surrounding area on my trusty steed, “Orange Crush,” a one-speed mama-chari bicycle.

My two-wheeled adventures often took me along Nakatsu’s surprisingly well-developed and paved trail system deep into nearby mountains where a pleasant variety of onsen and hiking trails awaited. However, I also explored side streets and back roads within the city.

It was during one of my urban adventures when I came across Daichi, a fair-trade shop and café in central Nakatsu. Daichi was founded in 1987 by Rumiko Suga. She was inspired by examples of fair-trade organizations she encountered during travels outside of Japan. Her daughter, Kanako, is a partner in the shop.

Daichi’s eclectic exterior was what first caught my attention—covered in colorful writing and decorations, it seemed somewhat out of place amid the rest of central Nakatsu’s standard buildings. I parked outside and entered a welcoming environment packed with clothing and handicrafts from all over the world. The interior and the familiar scent of incense was slightly disorienting at first. Was I still in Nakatsu?  I was temporarily flooded by nostalgic memories of similar shops on Canada’s earthy West Coast.

After gaining my bearings, I was warmly greeted by Kanako Suga and her mother. They invited me to sit down and offered me organic coffee or tea. It turned out to be some of the best coffee I have had in Japan.

Over the next several months, Miho and I made regular visits to Daichi. We were always warmly received, and we slowly learned more about the history and day-to-day operations of this unusual endeavor. The Sugas make regular trips to central Asia to buy their products at fair prices directly from artisans and textile workers. Photos of these trips adorn the shop along with descriptions of the origins of every product.

The family’s concern for global social and environmental issues is also evident locally as Kanako helps organize Nakatsu’s annual Earth Day celebrations while Rumiko continues to divide her time between Daichi and her duties as a long-time representative on the Nakatsu city council.

Next time you find yourself pedaling around northern Kyushu, be sure to drop by this inspiring family-run shop.

Daichi
Nakatsu, Oita
Tel.: (0979) 22-0963
www.ne.jp/asahi/sugarumi/daichi

Greg Lowan is a writer, researcher and wilderness guide based in Calgary, Canada. He welcomes correspondence at greglowan@yahoo.ca. www.greglowan.com

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