Nakatsue Village in the Mountains near Hita on Kyushu

One might wonder how we ended up in a small village high up in the mountains (600 m above sea level). Well, as a volunteer at the Kokusai Center in Kitakyushu, I came to know one of the city employees.

She is retired now and lives with her husband in a log cabin in Nakatsue. With her help, we secured a fairly inexpensive overnight deal in a Minpaku. Our charge was 3000 Yen per person (about 30 euro per person).

What is a Minpaku you might ask. Definition of Minpaku taken from Kyushu Educational Travel Net:

This Minpaku experience, which allows visitors to experience rural culture as typified by local cuisine, beautiful scenery and abundant nature, has been becoming popular. In Kagoshima Prefecture, a NPO organization coordinates more than 700 individual homes.

Staying in a minpaku is the cheapest form of accommodation, next is the Minshuku, topped by a Ryokan in convenience and comfort.

With our Minpaku arrangement, we had a whole log cabin to ourselves, it came without breakfast (instant coffee and tea were available), and it was just great!

Minpaku log cabin

For some reason, I did not take any photos on the inside. Our minpaku was fully equipped with heaters, flat screen TV, and all the amenities one could ask for.

Come warmly dressed though as these arrangements high up in the mountains can be rather cold even in April. The thermometer read – 1°C at 10 p.m.

Mountains of Hita, Oita-ken

On my next trip to Kyushu, I will book a Minpaku again.

The Japanese recycling miracle of Kamikatsu

The article Living in a world without waste from BBC News is about the Japanese town Kamikatsu which sorts its trash into 34 different categories. The scheme seems to be working well in this small rural town on the island of Shikoku, where residents even combine their trash-dumping trips with shopping to save energy. The town’s mayor went on to say that all residents have to compost their food waste and separate the trash.

Who would have believed the Japanese would ever turn to such drastic measures in recycling? When I lived there 15 years ago, trash was treated as badly as a stray dog. In the little street where I used to live, people just used the whole street as a dumping ground – at least that was my impression back then. Having returned to Japan for the first time in April 2008, I was amazed to see how much more environmentally conscientious the Japanese have become in recycling.

Of course, I think big when it comes to environmental issues as such. It would be great if the Chinese gradually caught on to more recycling measures as well. Three years ago I visited China – there was a non-existent trash awareness in the people, accompanied by a lack of recycling in the country itself.

Personally I might not advocate all of the Kamikatsu’s 34 categories, ten might be sufficient. Nevertheless, a tiny town in Japan has come a long way and this big clean-up act deserves to be called an environmental miracle.

Mermaids’ Tears

For the past four years, we – a family of four, have been collecting Mermaid’s Tears from various beaches, e.g. Virginia beach/U.S.A, Croatia, Baltic Sea, during our annual summer holidays.

It all started in 2003 while we were on Virginia beach, where I read a nice little story in which Mermaid’s Tears were mentioned. Up until that time I had never thought of glass shards, washed up on the beach, as an object of beauty.

But they are – the way they travelled starting with people polluting the ocean and the beach by dumping trash into the water or just leaving the party remnants behind.

Then nature run its course by using wind, water and sand to do its part in refining the trash: it turns the shards into the beautiful gems we then find washed up on the shore. The average time it takes for an angular glass shard to reach its final smooth stage takes between 15 and 60 years (depending on the level of erosion).

Looking for Mermaids Tears keeps our family busy by scouting for good spots and digging in the sand. My children like to look for them while I may sit lazily in a beachside café and they run up to show their little treasures. More often though I go hunting with them.

We have found the most beautiful pieces and they come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors with green, light-blue, and white being the more prominent colors.

At home we put them in a glass jar and label it with the date and location. You may also add a couple of stones or shells for variety. It is very decorative, a nice souvenir, and free. And you help the environment by keeping the beach a bit cleaner.

But there are other reports calling any kind of beach trash Mermaids’ Tears. How could you label dented water bottles Mermaids’ Tears? This term only applies to glass shards and nothing else. After all, glass is made from sand.

Poisoning the world’s seas with other waste is a different story.

Sturdy and durable plastic does not bio-degrade, it only breaks down physically, and so persists in the environment for possibly hundreds of years.

To read more on this BBC report click here

Mermaids’ Tears

Diese Webseite verwendet Cookies. Wenn Sie auf der Seite weitersurfen, stimmen Sie der Cookie-Nutzung zu. Mehr Informationen

Diese Webseite verwendet so genannte Cookies. Sie dienen dazu, unser Angebot nutzerfreundlicher, effektiver und sicherer zu machen. Cookies sind kleine Textdateien, die auf Ihrem Rechner abgelegt werden und die Ihr Browser speichert. Die meisten der von uns verwendeten Cookies sind so genannte "Session-Cookies". Sie werden nach Ende Ihres Besuchs automatisch gelöscht. Cookies richten auf Ihrem Rechner keinen Schaden an und enthalten keine Viren. Weitere Informationen finden Sie auf der Seite “Datenschutzerklärung”.