Straw Bale PhD Thesis ストローベイル博士論文

On March 25 I was awarded a PhD (Bioresource Sciences) 博士(生物資源科学) from Nihon University. My dissertation is available at the link below.
College of Bioresource Sciences' Graduation Ceremony
Due to the earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent nuclear crisis, Nihon University, and many other Universities in Tokyo, canceled the main graduation ceremony. Fujisawa has regular power outages, but instead of canceling the Fujisawa campus graduation ceremony altogether, they abbreviated it to a short 30 minute ceremony and then handed out certificates separately.
Itonaga-sensei and Kyle


大津磨き講習会 Otsu Polished Earthen-lime Plaster

March 20th, attended an Ostu polished earthen-lime plaster (大津磨き) workshop sponsored by the Heiseikai (平成会) and held at the Sakan Shokuren Kaikan (左官職連会館) in Tokyo. Instruction was given by Mr. Konuma (小沼親方) of Ninja Sakan (忍者左官).
1) Practice panels were hung. These panels had already had the brown coat (中塗) applied.
2) Plaster two coats of the Haitsuchi (灰土).
The Haitsuchi consists of 1 part quicklime putty to 2 parts earthen plaster.
The quicklime putty is aged for more than several weeks.
The earthen plaster consists of 1 part soil sieved through a 100 mesh and 1.5 parts "Hidashi" rice straw fibers about 10mm long. Hidashi designates a type of rice straw fiber about 10mm long, as opposed to "Mijin" fibers which are less than 3mm with the stem nodes shifted out.3) Plaster two coats of the Otsu finish coat.
The Otsu finish coat consists of 3 parts earthen plaster to 1 part quicklime putty.
The earthen plaster consists of 1 part soil sieved through a 100 mesh, 1 part pigment, and 0.01 part paper fibers. Further details on processing the paper fibers can be found at Mr. Tomizawa's blog.



Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster Relief

I'm am member of an NPO in Japan called Ecology ArchiScape (hereafter EAS). EAS works to connect people, nature, art, and the built environment. The president of EAS is my professor, Dr. Koji Itonaga. Fifteen years ago Prof. Itonaga began working with Iitate Village, a rural community in Fukushima Prefecture. Last year EAS and Prof. Itonaga's research studio supported the construction of a model ecological home and sustainability center in Iitate Village. I lead a straw bale building workshop at the facility. Iitate Village is located 30-40 km from Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant.

To put it simply, Iitate Village is in critical condition. Over 1000 tsunami refugees have taken shelter in elementary schools in Iitate Village, which normally has a population of 6000 people. Food, heating oil, and gasoline are in short supply. Iitate Village is now also a refugee area for those living within 20km of the nuclear power plant. However, atmospheric radiation levels in Iitate Village are above normal and Iitate Village has been declared an indoor evacuation zone (屋内退避), meaning that people are instructed not to go outside. A graph depicting radiation levels in Iitate Village is available here. And much worse, tap water tested at Iitate Village showed more than triple the level of radiation allowed by the government. Japan's Health Ministry is urging Iitate Village residents not to drink the tap water.

Several group evacuations have occurred, carrying hundreds of residents and refugees southwest. Unfortunately, farming is an important occupation in Iitate Village and many people cannot leave their livestock.

That all being said, EAS is raising money to provide emergency assistance to Iitate Village. Please visit the EAS homepage for further information.