Friday, 30 October 2009

Sustainable Japan?

We are off to the airport in the morning, having come to the end of our trip, which has passed incredibly quickly - a good sign that we have all been enjoying ourselves. Here in Yokohama (today) we have been dazzled by the modern architecture of Minato Mirai, where I've been talking sustainability with RCE colleagues, Zinaida Fadeeva and Aurea Tanaka at the UN University Institute of Advanced Studies. Their team is funded by the Japanese Dept. of the Environment, for ten years - a sign of at least a degree of commitment to the subject.

Bicycles abound in the cities - more than at home - and public transport, particularly the train service, is excellent. Seeing the huddling of houses together, as the Shinkansen passes at vast speed through the suburbs, makes you think our town sprawl energy wasteful. But even up on the Buddhist monastic stronghold of Kôyasan - we spent the night before last in temple dwellings there (delicious vegetarian food, and a wonderful chanting ceremony at 6 a.m.) - to find a heated loo seat is a matter of course. And the shopping malls in the centre of Osaka and here seem endless.

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