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  • Hibaku Jumoku: Survivors of Hiroshima

    Ever since 1945, August 6th has been a big day in history. 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the day an atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Hiroshima. There are many stories that come from ‘the bomb’ which killed an estimated 140,000 people initially and thousands more over the years. It flattened Hiroshima, destroying around 90% of the city, but among the ashes, there were trees that survived. Over the ensuing years, the City of Hiroshima, tree experts, and most notably, a group of volunteers called Green Legacy Hiroshima have lovingly tended the Hibaku Jumoku ‘Survivor Trees’. As human survivors become scarcer, the trees become a more significant reminder of events and the message of peace. The Green Legacy Hiroshima has continued to protect the trees and to spread the story of ...

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  • The Olympics that didn’t happen: Tokyo 1940

    Tokyo was gearing up for the Olympics. Planned as a cornerstone of national pride, the Games were designed to showcase Japan to the world and cement its place as a modern, global leader. Posters were designed, travel companies began offering package holidays for the games, and the media had a field day. However, after the outbreak of a regional crisis that spiralled into a prolonged disaster, the games were postponed…and then cancelled outright. Wait, surely the 2020 games have been pushed back to 2021, and not outright cancelled! We're talking about the 1940 Tokyo Olympics, though, the Games that never were. In the 1920s and 30s, Japan was a rising nation trying to make a place for itself on the world stage. European powers still controlled much of Asia through their network of ...

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  • Japan’s most dramatic landscapes

    In a country that’s subarctic in the north and subtropical in the south with different conditions between the Pacific and the Sea of Japan, there’s bound to be a spectacular array of landscapes. So, if you thought Japan’s countryside was all rolling rice fields, prepare to be surprised. Itoigawa Global Geopark, Niigata "Itoigawa is a sleepy small town on the West Coast of Japan. You'd never notice it. But here is where two forces that shaped the very geography of the nation come together: the Itoigawa-Shizuoka Tectonic line that splits Japan in two. You can stand astride the divide and ponder on the primaeval forces that caused Japan to rise up out of the ocean millions of years ago. The mountains of the Japan Alps sore skywards to the east, plunging into the ocean to the west. Itoig ...

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  • Sakurajima Eruption Warning

    Japan has a lot of volcanos and even the mighty Mt. Fuji itself is an active volcano. In fact, Japan has 270 and with 100 of them active, accounting for 10% of the world’s active volcano. The laid-back city of Kagoshima on the southern main island of Kyushu is known by some as the ‘Naples of Japan’ due to Mt. Sakurajima which sits in Kagoshima bay. The Japan Meteorological Association has announced this month that new data suggests a large-scale eruption of Sakurajima may be likely soon. Back in 2016, the BBC reported that each year, 14 million cubic metres of magma has been accumulating faster than it can be expelled from the volcano. Authorities concluded that a major eruption was likely in the next 30 years. Since then, there have been notable eruptions, most recently on May 9th t ...

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  • Hokkaido: Japan’s wild north

    When the most widely recognised images of Japan are scenes of neon nightscapes or of bullet trains whizzing past Mt. Fuji, many are surprised to discover most of Japan is wooded, mountainous and sparsely inhabited. But stray far enough and you can find yourself in Hokkaido: Japan’s wild north. The land is candy for the eyes with serene natural beauty everywhere you look. Hokkaido is so big, it could be its own country, but due to the pretty difficult winter living conditions, most of the land is largely untouched by modernisation. With convenient public transport only in southern parts, such as Hakodate and Sapporo, it can be tricky to get around, but it that leaves a plethora of nature untouched. And with the lowest population density of all of Japan’s prefectures (65 compared to nearl ...

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