August 20-24 helped managed Shinobara-no-Sato (篠原の里) in Fujino, Kanagawa. Shinobara-no-Sato is a community center that Itonaga-sensei's research studio helped establish in 2002. Every summer students from Itonaga-sensei's research studio help manage the center. It hosts works shops and functions somewhat like a youth hostel. On August 23 was 大石神社祭典, a local, annual festival where the god that lives in Ohishi Shrine (大石神社) is taken for a walk around the village in an Omikoshi (御神輿) carried by the villagers. Functions somewhat as a blessing for the homes, farms, and people in the village. This is the third year I've had the opportunity to participate in the festival.August 26-29 attended the Architectural Institute of Japan's Annual Conference. The conference takes place in a different location in Japan every year, and this year the conference was held in Sendai in Northern Japan.定禅寺通 (Jozenji Dori) street in Sendai known for its tree canopy which shades the street below to combat the heat island effect of urban areas.まちなか農園藤坂 (Urban Farm Fujisaka) located in Sendai city strengthens the community through urban gardening.


旭川市 北海道

The interstitial temperature and relative humidity sensors are installed and recording data at Maiko and Toby's home in Higashikawa. Additional photos and updates on construction can be found on Toby's blog:
Had dinner at Mr. Jinnouchi's straw bale home on August 16th. Mr. Jinnouchi runs a NPO involved with forestry in Hokkaido.
Returned to Fujisawa on August 17th.


Soil Testing and Bennu Gallery

Currently staying with Kate and Stefan in 三河町 (Mikawa-cho) in Hokkaido. Kate is a potter and also teaches pottery. Together they run Bennu Gallery and Cafe, which sells import items in addition to Kate's pottery. Stefan plastered the earthen walls of the cafe and gallery.
Freshly baked scones by Shizuka-san.
Mika-san, who is also staying with Kate and Stefan for a few days, makes clothes and accessories entirely from discarded pieces of fabric, etc. For example, the skirt she's wearing in the photo above uses a large shirt for pant legs. She and four other women are operating an urban ecological and spritual center in Sapporo called Tanepotani, which means in the Ainu language, "Now, Here". She's an amazing woman with great fashion sense. Refuses to purchase a cell phone. Doesn't use email. Very admirable.
Mural painted with latex paint by Stefan.
Yesterday Stefan and I ran tests on a number of different soils trying to determine which would work best for Toby and Maiko's plaster. Photos taken before and after drying


Straw Bale in Asahikawa, Hokkaido

On August 7th, I flew to Asahikawa, Hokkaido to help with the construction of Maiko and Toby Weymiller's straw bale home <http://maikotobybomber.blogspot.com>. Construction and plastering of the straw bale walls is being lead by Stefan Bell, a jack of all trades and master of many, including juggling <http://web.mac.com/thegreatballini/iWeb/theGreatBallini-English%20Homepage/Juggling%20%26%20Building%20Houses.html>. Stefan built straw bale homes in the south west for eight years, including the home featured in the book/DVD "Building with Awareness" <http://www.buildingwithawareness.com/>.

Cutting straw bales with chain saws to fit around structural members.

I installed nine interstitial temperature and relative humidity sensors in the north wall of the Maiko and Toby's straw bale house. Three sensors were installed in the lowest course of bales on top of the stem wall, three at mid-height, and three in the top course of bales. Each set of three consists of a sensor near the interior, one in the middle of the bale, and one near the exterior.

On August 8th there was a traditional Shinto purification ceremony for the home. Three videos are available on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbEAkP5R-rw&feature=related
Straw bale alter

After the ceremony, there was mochi-maki. Mochi is glutinous rice pounded into a dough, eaten sweet or savory. Maki means to scatter. During Mochi-maki, mochi are thrown to a crowd of people below.

Flute music recorded at a Shinto shrine in Asahikawa on August 11th at 7am

On August 12th Stefan and I visited Yonezawa Brick Company (米澤煉瓦株式会社)in Ebetsu City, Hokkaido. The purpose of our visit was to obtain clay for Maiko and Toby's straw bale home.
Brick Kiln

Today, August 13th, we'll experiment with the clay to see if it will be suitable for plastering straw bales.


Statue of Liberty

August 6th visited the statue of liberty

in Odaiba, Tokyo with teachers participating in the Toshiba Youth Conference for a Sustainable Future 2009.



August 1st through the 7th, working as a staff member at Toshiba Youth Conference for a Sustainable Future 2009, sponsored by Toshiba and organized by BeGood Cafe, the event organizer that organizes the International Ecovillage Conference in Tokyo each year. As a part of the Youth Conference, high school students and teachers from Thailand, Poland, the US, and Japan gather for one week to discuss environmental issues. This years theme is "Halve CO2 Emissions by 2050 - Achieving the Best Mix of Energy Resources". Today we visited the former residence of Mikio Mizuta (1905-1976), founder of Josai International University and Japanese politician. The residence was built 150 years ago and is a well preserved example of Edo era architecture. We then visited 大山千米田 Oyamasenmaida in Kamogawa City, Chiba Prefecture. Oyamasenmaida consists of roughly 250 terraced rice paddies (pictured above).