【News】Spring trio in Asahi town, Toyama Prefecture (Apr. 13, 2017)

Along the bank of Funagawa River in Asahi town, Toyama Prefecture, tulips and cherry blossoms are in full bloom at once, presenting a beautiful harmony of colors with the mountains of the Northern Alps in the background. The tulips are grown by a 56-year-old local bulb grower, Shuji Yamazaki, who successfully manages to make his tulips flower when the 280 cherry trees on the river banks are in full bloom. This year, he planted approximately 600,000 bulbs of tulips in 30 different kinds in his 1.5 hectors field. Shuji and his 74-year-old father began producing tulips in the cherry-blossom season in 2008, expecting that “the tulips added to the already-beautiful … Continue reading

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【News】Fine dining and sightseeing available on “restaurant bus” tours (April 16, 2017)

Tours of eating local specialties on a double-decker bus while enjoying the changing scenery of rural villages are recently proving so popular that sometimes it is difficult to get reservations. The bus comes with a kitchen on the first floor and tables and seats for 25 people on the second floor. The roof will be opened, or covered with a transparent fabric on rainy days, to make it easy for people to see the outside view. A tour which includes visits to a Japanese sake brewery and a strawberry farm in the city of Niigata drives 60 kilometers in three and a half hours. While participants enjoy visiting a brewery … Continue reading

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【News】One year on – Kumamoto farmers struggle to recover from earthquakes (April 14, 2017)

Farmers of Kumamoto Prefecture are still working to recover, a year after the area was rocked by two powerful earthquakes which marked the highest rating of 7 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale. In the Tateno district in the village of Minamiaso, where the large Aso Ohashi bridge collapsed, water supply remains cut off and farmers are having difficulty resuming their business. But earlier this month, one dairy farmer managed to take up farming again. In Tateno, farmlands and water pipes were damaged in the earthquake that hit the region in the early morning of April 16 last year, following one on April 14. Nearly a year after, on April … Continue reading

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【News】Scarecrow of the future – Akita Prefectural University develops a robot to drive away wildlife from crops (April 11, 2017)

Akita Prefectural University is working on developing a robotic scarecrow to move around the fields and scare off wild animals which cause damage to crops. Takashi Saito, 47, associate professor at the university’s Department of Machine Intelligence and Systems Engineering specializing in robots, has created three eight-legged and four-legged prototype models, with an aim to complete the robot next year. Saito began developing the prototypes last year based on radio-controlled fighting robots. He said he plans to make practical models equipped with artificial intelligence, adopting moves and designs that wild animals dislike. The robots will be placed on paths running between crop fields in rural villages and make the rounds … Continue reading

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【News】Otaue Matsuri to pray for good harvest of rice (in Katori city, Chiba Prefecture) (Apr. 9, 2017)

Katori Jingu, a shrine located in the Tone-riverside rice production district in Katori city, Chiba Prefecture, holds “otaue matsuri,” or rice-planting festival annually in early April to pray for a good harvest in fall. Several rituals are conducted by local farmers and children including a group of women wearing decorated traditional farmers’ hats to gorgeously announce that the rice planting season is approaching. The festival is held on the first Saturday and Sunday of April every year. This year’s plowing ceremony was held on April 1 in the shrine and the planting ceremony on April 2 at the shrine rice paddy. On April 1, the plowing ceremony began at 1:00 … Continue reading

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