Nichi Bei Natural

Exploring environmentalism across Japanese America and beyond

Shaken, but always majestic

One of my regrets from the two years I lived in Japan was that I didn’t get outdoors enough. While teaching English on the JET Program, I stayed in a small city called Yuzawa, located in southernmost Akita Prefecture and nestled in a peaceful countryside of profound natural beauty. I’ve never lived in a place […]

Watercolors: Estria Miyashiro paints environmental message

Oakland, the city where I live, pulses with civic and cultural energy, but this vibrancy can feel muted by the specter of blight. A mood of desolation and general shabbiness weighs heavy along too many of our pothole-pocked streets, lined with crumbling buildings and weed-strewn vacant lots. This place is fraying, and not just around the edges, but at its very core. One way that folks around here have rallied against the […]

Style points for being green?

Posting for an environmental blog can be an exercise in confronting your own hypocrisy. Case in point: My last blog post covered the evils of disposable chopsticks, but I use waribashi all the time. I do own a reusable set of bamboo utensils that come in a handy carrying case and include a pair of chopsticks, but I always seem to be leaving […]

The disposable chopstick question: Your hashi or their waribashi?

Internet wacky arrived in my inbox this week in the form of a 16-page PDF entitled “Scarychopstick” courtesy of Nichi Bei Weekly volunteer extraordinaire Amy Hanamoto. In both awkward English and Chinese (the quality of which I cannot speak for), this virtual pamphlet offered a cautionary tale about the horrors of disposable chopsticks. An excerpt: “Possible consequences of using disposable […]

On a fin and a prayer: Sacred sharks in the soup

Years ago, my uncle took my cousins and I out on a glass-bottom boat tour off the northeast side of Oahu. We were the only ones on that small vessel, and my uncle fell into conversation with the young man at the helm. The guy mentioned he spent a lot of time in the water amongst the sealife, […]

Electric car excitement: Let’s have hamburgers while charging

Behold, the future! Well, maybe. This space-age piece of hardware is a 50-kilowatt charging station. For what, a rocket ship? No, silly — for a car. An electric car. But aren’t those dead? Actually, they were hanging onto life support for about a decade, but the electric car is making a comeback. Leading the (ahem) charge […]

Sushi sustainability and other alliterative quagmires

Writing about fish makes me hungry. Like, ‘pass the shoyu and get out of my way’ hungry. But when you write about fish on an environmental blog, you’re supposed to caution against eating many of the tastier species, since they are experiencing population crashes as a result of our gustatory enthusiasm. It’s a dilemma. A depressing, delicious dilemma. As I mentioned a couple weeks […]

Get Green this Weekend

Got no plans for the upcoming weekend? With apologies for being so last-minute on this, here are a couple activities to get you into the environmental swing of things: For my people in Chicago, the Chicago Botanic Garden is hosting a bonsai show and accompanying lecture to “celebrate the winter season in the Japanese tradition.” […]

Something fishy with our fish

Let me make one thing clear off the bat. I love maguro. LOVE IT. It’s like savory ocean pastry. Or red velvet cake with fins. Okay, maybe I won’t make it as a food writer. But maguro sushi is obviously way high on my list of favorite eats. So a little part of my soul dies when […]

Bags on the Brain

Needing change for the bus the other day, I dropped into Ichiban Kan on Post Street in SF’s Japantown, looking to break a larger bill. For a little more than two bucks, I saw this: An eco bag? My Japanese isn’t so sharp, but the kanji for shopping is printed on the label, along with images […]