Iide-Town in Yamagata-Prefecture

March 13 traveled to Iide-Town in Yamagata-Prefecture, the birthplace of sustainable rural planning in Japan. My advising professor is Itonaga-sensei. Itonaga-sensei’s professor, Aoki-sensei, began working with Iide-Town over 30 years ago. Yamagata-Prefecture is located in rural, northern Japan and receives significant snow fall. This is a photo of a traditional two-story thatched roof house, where in winter it is not uncommon to exit the home from the second story.
Maeno-san, a doctorial student who graduates this March has taken a duel position working with the Iide town government and post-doc at Nihon University. His doctorial research dealt with developing sustainable local community energy systems utilizing mainly biomass. We visited a demonstration “green” home in Iide which utilizes radiant floor heating and a pellet boiler. Adjacent to the home is an insulated “ice house” where packed snow and perishable goods are stored. Within the ice house is a “cold exchange” coil which connects to the home’s radiant floor piping, and in summer can act as an air conditioning system.

This is an insulated storage facility, divided roughly in half, and located adjacent to several large greenhouses. Snow is packed in one half the building while perishable goods are stored in the other half. This eliminates the need for summer refrigeration.


Japanese Timber-Framing in Yamanashi-Prefecture

Presented February 1 to a Rotary Club in Chiba-Prefecture, Katsura-City. Chiba-Prefecture is a peninsula just east of Tokyo. Submitted an essay to an essay contest sponsored by the same Rotary club. The topic: the future of the Nanbousou (southern half of the peninsula). My essay states that, given Chiba’s mild climate, plentiful sunshine, abundant natural resources, fertile soils and coastline, strong cultural heritage, and unique location next to Tokyo, Chiba has excellent potential to develop renewable energy sources and attain a high level of food and energy self-sufficiency. I present my essay and participate in a panel discussion on April 13.
February 14 participated in a group discussion of Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposphy, and environmental design at the office of Bio-City magazine, a quarterly Japanese magazine covering ecological design. http://www.biocity.co.jp/ Submitted an article about Camphill Village Kimberton Hills for the April issue of Bio-City featuring Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophical design, and the Camphill movement.
March 3 collected data from Waraya, a strawbale home in Yamanashi-Prefecture featured in a previous entry.
In addition to collecting data, I spent the day with Matsuda, a timber framer who works for a company called Kinokaori (direct translation: scent of trees). He spends 80 percent of his work day in the office, designing, researching, and networking, and 20 percent on site. We visited the site where he harvests his lumber. The trees are prepped before and are felled efficiently with the assistance of a backhoe. This is Matsuda’s mentor holding a house plan written in traditional style.
We visited this old local timber-frame shrine. Note how the post is not anchored to the foundation stone. This allows the post to move slightly in the event of an earthquake. Traditional Japanese timber framing is categorized at 柔構造 (soft structure) in contrast to hard modern building which counters earthquakes through rigidity. Matsuda showed me some of the projects he’s worked on.
Presented March 8 at the Architectural Institute of Japan’s Kanto Branch Symposium. Last month submitted an abstract to present a paper at the 7th International Symposium on Architectural Interchanges in Asia. If selected, will present in Beijing in October.
Have been appointed manager of my research studio’s permaculture garden. It’s not related to my research, and I’d like to invest more time and energy in other areas such as research and Japanese studies, but it is mainly Itonaga-sensei, my professor’s decision.