Tsukuba Doobie Doo - Part III

...wherein we plunge down the mountainside narrowly missing an oncoming cable car and K finds a reason to climb up the mountain again!

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The hike down to the cable car station from Nyotai-san was fairly quick. Going down hill is obviously a lot less work, but not a free ride and one needs to watch one's footing. We got to the station about ten minutes ahead of the next cable car - they run every twenty minutes - and were first in line. This allowed us to stand in the front of the car for the best view (or to be the first to die in case the cable broke). Shooting pictures through the glass was a bit of trouble and the lower lighting of late afternoon didn't help matters. The camera was taking a long time to respond to my finger on the shutter button.

As we descended I explained the mechanics of cable cars to K, how the two cars balance each other's weight and make the work of moving them up and down the mountain much easier for the motor at the top station, and so on. As the slope increased to 33 percent, and we plunged into the tunnel, I wondered to myself how effective brakes would be freewheeling down the mountainside on smooth rails. I mean, they aren't that effective on level ground. The song "Wreck of the Old 97" came to mind and I could hear Box Car Willie's voice singing "she was goin' down the grade making 90 miles an hour..." Shortly thereafter, we approached the half way point where the track splits and we passed the upward bound car with mere centimeters to spare! Well, OK, so it was a lot of centimeters, but I wouldn't want to be standing between them.

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Scenery flashes by in a blur as we plunge down the mountain, passing the upward car with mere centimeters to spare!

As the gods of the mountain would have it, the red and green cable cars did not exchange any paint and we arrived safely at the bottom station. I wanted to take a picture of the cable car with K in front of it (well not right in front of it - I wasn't going to tie her to the tracks or anything), so we hung around and enjoyed the momiji trees by the station.

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Ah! Autumnal Tints (and another souvenir shop).

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An amazing array of colors.

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When the cable car started up the mountain I had K stand where I could get a clear shot and...and....and....the *%$# camera would not respond. I kept telling her to move a little this way, a little that, as I tried to frame the picture while the cable car moved, I moved, and the camera failed to obey my commands.

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Ah, well. A little fuzzy, but I finally did get the picture.

A couple of hundred more steps down and we arrived back at Tsukuba Jinja (Shrine). K spotted a sign that led us under an elevated walkway connecting the offices to the main building. There was a small pond with a spring supplying water through a bamboo pipe, and steps leading back up the mountain side. Oh, no, thank you! I've had my quota of climbing steps for the day. K followed them up and disappeared into the woods, while I waited below. She found a small shrine dedicated to people seeking a job promotion. If she doesn't get a promotion now, don't blame us if bad things happen to her employers.

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Tsukuba Jinja is known for its large bell. Those are yellow mums inside.

So at last, we retrieved the car and began the journey home. Up close, Tsukuba-san turned out to be much different than I had expected from a distance, as so many things in life do. Having made its acquaintance, I'd like to return someday, spend more time, do more hiking, and experience some of its many aspects that we missed.

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Tsukuba-san, a Disney "E-ticket" in the great theme park we call Japan.


Tsukuba Doobie Doo - Part II

...wherein we are attacked by a giant granite oil toad, conquer Nyotai-san and find ourselves dangling over an abyss by a slender thread!

Alighting from the cable car, we find ourselves on the saddle of Tsukuba-san.

The blue "birthday cake" in the picture below is actually a souvenir shop with a rotating restaurant on the second floor, accessed via a spiral staircase in the center of the building. The roof is an observation deck which offers excellent views. Not far away sits a row of yet more souvenir shops (sigh). This is how one "appreciates" nature in Japan.

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Nantai-san - the lower peak - and the blue birthday cake (arrow).

From there, we started our hike toward Nyotai-san the higher of Tsukuba-san's two peaks. It was time for lunch so we started looking for a suitable spot and soon found a picnic table, just off the path. After lunch, it was onward and upward, and upward, and upward. The path was not smooth, but rather more like a streambed full of rocks in some places and rock steps in others. It was then that I started to notice something that surprised me about this mountain.

I made a couple of hints in the previous post regarding the nature of Tsukuba-san; its volcano shape, the "granite toad", and finding out "just what the mountian was made of". I took a year and a half of geology in college, and for one year spent two afternoons a week doing field work. I've gotten a bit rusty when it comes to identifying rocks and minerals (having spent the intervening years on a volcanic island), but it was obvious that the mountain we were hiking on was not a volcano. The rocks are all igneous - the upper part of the mountain is hornblende gabbro with granite at the base and also coming out at the peak. I mis-spoke about the rock toad, I think it is hornblende gabbro rather than granite.

As we hiked, I had been teasing K to be on the lookout for the deadly poison-spitting toads of Tsukuba-san (which don't exist except in my imagination). She wasn't having any of it, when suddenly we came upon something far more fearsome. A stone-spitting rock toad! We had left Momo at home, so would have to fend for ourselves.

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The Terrifying Stone-spitting Rock Toad "Gama-ishi"

The mouth of the toad is about three meters up. People try to toss a pebble into its mouth. If the pebble stays in the mouth the person gets good luck or has a wish granted. Most pebbles either miss the mouth entirely, causing it to ricochet, fail to stay in the mouth, or if they do, end up knocking someone else's pebble out (presumably that poor person's luck changes for the worse or they lose their wish - poof!). All of this stone throwing means that the toad is constantly spitting out pebbles as fast as people try to throw them in. It reminded me of the game of beanbag and a line in a W.C. Fields movie where he says: "Beanbag? Ah, very good; it becomes very exciting at times. I saw the championship played in Paris. Many people were killed."

K almost managed to get a stone to stay in the mouth, but I have little patience for such things. We had survived the attack of the stone-spitting rock toad in any case and so moved on. Ever upward. Never give up, never surrender, and all that.

My right knee can give me trouble at times, like when climbing endless steps (one of the reasons I choose bicycling over jogging). I had brought an elastic support for it, but it was safely at the bottom of my pack where it could do no good. Finally, after passing another outdoor eatery, we reached a lookout at the base of the last stretch of steps to the summit. While I enjoyed the view, K danced on up the steps like Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and Shirley Temple in the "The Little Colonel". Well, maybe not quite like that. I felt like sitting down on a boulder, but pressed onward and upward.

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K waits for me (or pauses to gloat) on the last steps up to Nyotai-san.

We passed one more souvenir shop - this one operated by the shrine,and the small shrine next to the peak where K stopped to make an offering and a prayer, and finally reached the top of Tsukuba-san. The out-crop of rock at the peak is granite and I scrambled up to the very top like I was still in college. The view was impressive.

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View North from Nyotai-san

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Villages, towns and rice fields below.

As I climbed up the last few meters, I hadn't thought about how to get down. Suddenly, getting down seemed a bit problematical, but of course wasn't so bad (read: I miraculously escaped injury).

We retraced our steps past the shrine
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Shrine atop Nyotai-san

and down to a turn off which led down to the ropeway station. Two things bothered me about this. Firstly, I realized that as this was a round trip, the further we hiked down hill toward the station, the further we would have to hike back uphill on the return journey. Secondly, the word "ropeway" which is commonly used in Japan bothers me from an engineering standpoint. Do they really rely on mere ropes? It is not a term that engenders confidence. "Arial Tram" is the same thing, but the very name sounds like something of substance that one can trust with one's life. I mean, which would your rather entrust your life to, a "ropeway" or a "steel cableway"? Of course they use STEEL cable (they make a point of saying that system was built in Switzerland), so why do they persist in calling it a "ropeway"?

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Japan as Disneyland - shouldn't we be hearing the "Matterhorn Bobsled" ride music?

While standing in line, we note that the map on the station wall shows the elevations of the ropeway station, peak, and cable car station relatively accurately with the peak being a whole lot higher than the cable car station. At the other end, where we purchased our ticket, the map showed the peak and ropeway station as pretty much on a level with the cable car station which makes it look like an easy stroll - not the major stair climb exercise it really is. Hmmm....

We boarded the ropeway car with ump-ditty-ump other people and tried to look non-challant while grabbing the overhead straps. As the car went over the first tower and swung gently on the tiny thread - um, steel cable - everyone (except me) gasped in unison. Silly, when one considers how many times a day this machine opperates, day after day, year after year, after year. Like people who vocalize some kind of relief (or god forbid, even applaud) when an airliner lands. As a pilot, I always find that particularly annoying. Jeeze, Louise, you'd think they were riding with Lindbergh and landing in Paris in 1927 rather than being on one of the safest forms of transportation in the world in the 21st century. But I digress.

Sorry. This is supposed to be a dramatic part, as our very lives are dangling by a tiny thread over the abyss! Ah! If only I had gotten that pebble to stay in the toad's mouth, we'd be assured of safe passage!

The ride was smooth and view was nice, except that the car is a bit crowded and we were in the center, limiting the visual experience. We spotted a beautiful red momiji tree and made a point to position ourselves by the window on the way back up to get a picture of it. We remained in the car for the return journey. Not easy to get a decent picuture through the tinted glass, so forgive the "softness".

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Autumnal tints below take our minds off of the slender thread that holds our very lives in limbo.

Back at the upper ropeway station, I slip into the gent's to put on my knee support. Of course there is a combination restaurant/souvenir shop there, and we get a window seat and try some iced tofu. K is unimpressed. I like it. K points out that it costs as much as Haagen Dazs at the local 7-11 store. I point out that it is being served in a tourist trap at the top of a mountain. (Many of our exchanges go like that.)

Finally, we begin our journey back up the mountain - my aching knee - to a point near the peak before heading downhill (at last!) to the cable car terminal. Humor relieves my self-pity regarding my knee when we pass a young woman attempting to negotiate the trail wearing leather boots with stiletto high heels.

To be continued...

tune in again for part III wherein we plunge down the mountainside narrowly missing an oncoming cablecar and K finds a reason to climb up the mountain again!


Tsukuba Doobie Doo - Part I

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Monday, the 13th, was holiday - Ibaraki Prefecture Citizen's Day. We had hoped for good weather and got it - warm and clear. (Well K thought it was a bit cool, but I was content. Now there's a switch.)

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We headed for our preplanned destination: Tsukuba-san, the mountain I have photographed and featured on this blog many times, but always from our distance of 20 miles. In addition to my interest in its beautiful double peaked profile, it has been the butt of many of my puns (sorry, but puns run in my family). As Tsukuba is pronounced much like "SCUBA", I talk about "tsukuba diving", "tsukuba doobie doo", and poke fun at its diminutive 877 meter height in comparison to Maui's Haleakala which rises to 3,055 meters. This day I'd get a chance to experience this mini-mountain first hand and see what it is really made of.

I was going to call this post "There and Back Again" but that would be plagiarizing Tolkien, so changed it to "Up and Down Again", but in fact we would ascend the mountain twice, and "Up and Down and Up and Down Again" sounds weird in ways I'd rather not discuss. So we're stuck with the silly title above. I'm also didn't mean to write a "Blogopotamus" (super long post), but this is turning into one, so I'll try to cover that up but making it two parts.

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An armored van pulled off on the side lane of Rokko Bridge

We drove up the east side of Lake Kitaura and crossed at Rokko Bridge - the name being made up of Kashima and Namegata, the two cities it connects. Sadly, the bridge's replacement sits unfinished right next to it, for lack of funding. Concrete pillars stand in the middle of the lake with no bridge atop them. We go across the old bridge which is one lane wide with two sidings for the eastbound traffic. At busy times there are traffic cops to manage the flow, but otherwise you just hope everyone is thinking alike as they converge head-on. Seriously.
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Lake Kasumigaura and Tsukuba-san

Then across Namegata City to the Kasumigaura Bridge from which we could see the mountain. "As the crow flies" the mountain is only 20 miles from home, but in road distance it is more than twice that. Given the speed limit of 50 kph (31 mph), it would take an hour and half or more to reach Tsukuba-san. Yes, everyone drives 60 kph, but red signal lights along the way eat up the extra speed, and today being a beautiful day, the motorcycle cops are out in force. A speeding ticket from them is an expensive joke. (As for myself, I have yet to get a speeding ticket on my bicycle, though my brother managed to do so - really!)

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Getting closer

As we got closer, the communications towers atop the mountain came into view, as did the "ropeway" (aerial tram) station below the taller of the two peaks (on the right in the picture above). From this angle, the peaks appear farther apart than they do from home and the mountain loses some of that volcanic cone look.

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We arrived at the mountainside shrine "Tsukubasan Shrine" at the 270 meter level, which is dedicated to the god or spirit of the mountain, and settled on a close by parking lot. There is no town here really (Tsukuba City is miles away), just a collection of restaurants, souvenir shops, and hotels. Any business with a parking lot has someone out by the road waving in cars with a flag. Usually, the further from the main attraction, the cheaper the parking, and free if you spend enough money in their store. 500 yen was the average price for a day's parking. The place was busy, but I wouldn't say crowded for a holiday.

One of the things Tsukuba-san is famous for is "toad oil", or grease, which is (I'm not making this up) applied to the skin - particularly the face - in order to heal damaged skin and improve the complexion. In the Edo period it was highly valued by Samurai for treating cuts. There is also an annual toad festival here in which a portable toad shaped shrine is carried through the streets.

To obtain the oil, a toad is placed inside a mirrored box and seeing his/her own reflection scares the oil out of the toad - or so I'm told.

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Toad Oil - not be confused with Dick Cheney who is an "Oil Toad".

After disposing of the car, we start up the first of countless steps up the mountain, first passing an old arched bridge, then a wonderful gate, to the shrine. I was carrying a backpack and had volunteered to carry our lunch (which K had prepared this morning), bottles of home brewed "mugicha" (roasted barley tea), water, sweater, camera tripod, and emergency kit (I was never a Boy Scout, but I follow their motto - "Be Prepared"). That I had forgotten to remove my bicycle tool kit only added to the weight. In retrospect I should have asked K to carry the pack. She is lighter than I am by goodly amount and runs up and down the stairs at her school every day. I on the other hand get my exercise on a bicycle, which involves a different set of muscles than does hiking or stair climbing. This would be driven home to me in a lesson not soon to be forgotten. When we're riding bicycles I have to go easy for K's sake, but when climbing steps, she bounds up them like a gazelle (mountain goat would be more accurate, but it's not a very flattering analogy) as I plod along in trail.

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Left to right - main entrance "torii" of the shrine, souvenir shops, wooden roof of the bridge, patinaed metal roof of the shrine gate, and barely visible next to the gate, the roof of the main shrine building. Oh, the modern building on the right above the bus? More souvenir shops, of course.

Along the way, we try to avoid the souvenir shops, but a woman with a flag is waving everyone off the path toward her shop as she shouts about toads and toad oil.

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The people inside the shop are looking at an aquarium holding six or so toads as the proprietor hawks his toad oil - 600 yen for looks to be 10 grams or less. I wonder if it could be used for trombone slide cream? It seems incredible to me that anyone would put it on their face in an attempt to improve their complexion. Have you ever noticed a toad's complexion?

The ancient gate to the shrine is flanked by an old Japanese cedar on the right and a ginkgo tree, the leaves of which were turning brilliant yellow, on the left.

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The architecture of the buildings is reminiscent of the temples in Nara. Tsukuba Shrine has a history dating back seventeen centuries. From the eighth century it also served as a Buddhist temple. The present hall was built by the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1633. It was turned back into a Shinto Shrine During the Meiji Era, when the Emperor returned to the throne.

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The shrine had chrysanthemums on display which rivaled those of Kashima.

Past some more souvenir shops, and up more steps, we arrived at the cable car station. Happily for me, we did not have time for the hour and a half hike to the summit and would ride most of the way. The ride is 500 yen each way but we opted for a special ticket that allowed us to ride the cable car and the ropeway both ways for 1500 yen per person.

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Pardon me boy, is that the Tsukuba-nooga choo choo? The flag says, "Tsukuba-yama Momiji Matsuri" - "Mt. Tsukuba Maple Festival"

"A cable car AND a ropeway on such a diminutive mountain?", you may ask. Of course! As I observed in "Japan As Disneyland - What A Country", in many ways Japan is one big Disneyland-style theme park, except that the props - such as mountains - are real.

The cable car ride is 1600 meters long and takes six minutes. The track reaches a 33 percent grade which gets really fun when you go through a tunnel. If the cable breaks - how much good are brakes? The trees along the track were lovely and though it was a bit early, we did get to see some autumn colors.

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Momiji - Japanese maples (acer palmatum) Whatever you call them, they are always beautiful.

The station at the top is located on the saddle between the peaks, closest to the lower of the two. The peaks are called Nantai-san and Nyotai-san (man body-mountain and woman body-mountain), with Nyotai-san being six meters higher. We would hike to the top of Nyotai-san before descending to the ropeway station.

In keeping with the "Japan as Disneyland" theme, as soon as one exits the cable car station, the eye is greeted with, what else?, a rotating restaurant and more souvenir shops. Sigh. There are also great views of the Kanto plain, and today, though it was getting a bit hazy, we could see all the way to Kashima to the southeast and the snow capped mountains to the northwest. Hang gliding and soaring are popular here and a motor glider (a glider with a small engine and retractable propeller) was silently looking for updrafts.
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If you click the picture above, you'll get a much wider view that includes Lake Kasumigaura.

Tune in again for part two wherein we are attacked by a giant granite oil toad, conquer Nyotai-san and find ourselves dangling over an abyss by a slender thread!


Off The Air

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Off The Air

Pacific Islander is presently not broadcasting. This situation is temporary. Please tune in again within 24 hours for the next exciting post. We apologize for any inconvenience this interuption in service may have caused.

Meanwhile, please enjoy the following two minute clip of musician/comedian Pete Barbutti performing on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show in the 1970s - watch out for the trumpets about half way into it....


Tofukuji Temple - Uh, Sort Of

Sorry to mislead you, but that's what happened to me. Some of you who have visited Kyoto will think of the Tofukuji Temple there which is the head temple for the Tofukuji School of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism. This post is definitely NOT about that.

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Tofukuji - Kyoto

Sunday's weather was cool and clear. We had some errands in town and then K had things to do with her mother and brother (Pandabonium bows and exits stage right). I decided not to waste such a beautiful day with "WERK" and instead go exploring via bicycle (what else?).

I noted on my map of Kashima City a temple which I had never seen before. "Tofukuji". Auspicious name. Of course, being a rural area I was prepared for a much more modest edifice but of interest none the less. After all, I have already found and posted about three interesting temples within walking distance of our house. For those stories, see The Time Capsule In My Backyard (my very first post by the way), Further Back In Time, and Yet Another Time Capsule.

This "Tofukuji" is shown on my map to be in what was known as Aso Town, now part of Namegata City. I still use the old names (so do many road signs) as they are more precise. For you Californians, imagine asking how to get to "Tarzana" and being told, "Oh, it isn't called that anymore, it's now part of 'Los Angeles'. " This is the realm of the Moody Minstrel, so I had to be on the look out for his notorious BLUE RAV 4 careening down the highway.

It was mid afternoon by the time I left and about ten minutes later, K (with her mother and brother in the car) and I passed going opposite directions. She would soon be home to read the note I left saying where I was going.

The ride was not terribly long for me, but good exercise at about 6.5 kilometers each way. It did cross Lake Kitaura via the Kitaura Bridge. I like the bridge for the views it offers and the wide walkway I can ride on separated from traffic. It is also a good little workout going uphill for half a kilometer (especially against the wind).

Once in Aso I began to look for the temple, which is just one or two streets off the main road. I missed it somehow and so turned down one block to circle back. On the way back I saw an old cemetery. Up ahead, some large old roofs looked promising but turned out to be a large farmhouse, out buildings and an impressive gatehouse. I soon found myself back at the main road. Hmmm.. I rode back to the cemetery and noticed a small building - about 3 meters on a side and not very old - next to it. Might have been a storage shed, maybe the temple. I consulted the map. Oh my. What a let down. I didn't even feel up to taking a picture. I am sure there is history of interest here, but there is nothing like an old building to help convey that history to those of us in the present. How jaded I have become, expecting ancient treasures to reveal themselves at my whim. Ah well, it was a beautiful day anyway, and a nice ride. I turned toward the levy and the way home.

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Looking back toward home from the "far side" (west shore) of Lake Kitaura

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Kitaura Bridge

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Long shadow - time to head home across the bridge before the sun gets low and the temperature drops.

With the wind at my back, most of the way home seemed to be almost down hill. Tomorrow (Monday) would be a local holiday - Ibaraki Prefecture Citizen's Day. We were hoping for another day of good weather as K had the day off and we were planning another, much longer, excursion.


The Great Turning

Watch David Korten, Phd, author of The Great Turning: Empire to Earth Community, give an important lecture at the Canadian Centre for Peace in Vancouver BC: http://www.globalpublicmedia.com/lectures/781

If you have trouble with that stream, as sometimes happens, you can listen to or downland an MP3 audio version right here: David Korten MP3

I first became aquainted with Korten's work in late 1990's when I read his books, When Corporations Rule the World and The Post-Corporate World. His new book is on my "must have" list.

This lecture is one of the most interesting, thought provoking, comprehensive, and even spiritually uplifting talks I've heard about the state of the world and what to do about it. He doesn't spoon feed answers, but rather offers a different way to look a the situation and invites us to engage the problems together in new ways. I hope you will enjoy it.

Who is David Korten?

Introduction by Celine Rich, Executive Director Post Carbon Institute:

"Good evening, my name is Celine Rich. I am the Executive Director of Post Carbon Institute. I would like to welcome David Korten to Vancouver and introduce him to you.

Mr. Korten has had an illustrious career. For 25 years he worked inside the establishment. He began with BA in psychology from Stanford University and went on to an MBA and Ph.D. from the Stanford Business School. He is a student of psychology and behavioral systems. He studied how culture and institutional structures shape human behavior.

His early career was devoted to setting up business schools in low-income countries - starting with Ethiopia. He hoped that this was the key to ending global poverty.
As a captain in the U.S. Air Force served as military aide to the civilian head of all defense department behavior and social sciences research.

He was visiting Associate Professor of the Harvard University Graduate School of Business where he taught in Harvard's middle management, M.B.A. and doctoral programs. He also served as the Harvard Business School advisor to the Nicaragua-based Central American Management Institute. He subsequently joined the staff of the Harvard Institute for International Development, where he headed a Ford Foundation-funded project to strengthen the organization and management of national family planning programs.

In the late 1970s, David left U.S. academia and moved to Southeast Asia, where he lived for nearly fifteen years, serving first as a Ford Foundation project specialist, and later as Asia regional advisor on development management to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In the latter capacity he traveled regularly between Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines. His work in Asia gained international recognition for his pioneering contribution to the development of organizational strategies by which large scale public bureaucracies can be transformed into responsive support systems dedicated to strengthening community control and management of land, water, and forestry resources.

Disillusioned by the evident inability of USAID and other large official aid donors to apply the approaches that had been proven effective by the nongovernmental Ford Foundation, he eventually made his break with the official aid system. His last five years in Asia were devoted to working with leaders of Asian nongovernmental organizations on identifying the root causes of development failure in the region and building the capacity of civil society organizations to function as strategic catalysts of national- and global-level change.

Gradually he became aware that the crisis of deepening poverty, growing inequality, environmental devastation, and social disintegration he was observing in Asia was also being experienced in nearly every country in the world - including the United States and other "developed" countries. In 1990, he joined with colleagues from around the world to found the People-Centered Development Forum as a support network for those who were seeking to challenge the dominant development paradigm. He has since served as the Forum's president and principal spokesperson. His analysis of the global crisis deepened, his Asian colleagues suggested that he might best help them in their cause by returning to the United States to educate other Americans in the devastating negative impact on democracy, people, and the environment of U.S. economic and political policies around the world.

In 1992, David and his wife Fran, moved to New York City, and began the research that led to publication of When Corporations Rule the World. In 1994, he accepted an invitation to join a gathering of global activists working on trade issues that led to the formation of the International Forum on Globalization, an alliance that assumed a major role in building global awareness of the dysfunctions of corporate-led economic globalization.

Following the launch of When Corporations Rule the World in 1995, his attention turned increasingly to a search for alternatives to the destructive patterns of global corporate rule. The beginning of 1996, David co-founded with Sarah van Gelder and other colleagues the Positive Futures Network, publishers of YES! A Journal of Positive Futures, which he has since served as board chair. In 1998 he and Fran moved to Bainbridge Island in Washington state, the home of YES! and the heartland of Ecotopia. Where he finished his manuscript The Post-Corporate World: Life After Capitalism, which was launched at the United Nations headquarters in March 1999.

He contributed to writing a consensus report of the International Forum on Globalization titled Alternatives to Economic Globalization published in 2002.
This same year that saw the launch of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) as an initiative to advance the emergence of a new economy in the United States built on a foundation of locally owned independent businesses and free from the dysfunctions of corporate rule. He helped frame the underlying rationale and strategy of BALLE and now serve on the BALLE board of directors.

We are pleased that David Korten will be discussing his new book The Great Turning. As you will hear tonight this is a book for those of us who know the peril the world is in and understand that the time to act is now.

At Post Carbon Institute we understand and share the imperative of this vision. Our Relocalization Network initiative offers practical tools to help communities respond to this vision. We offer an online suite of communication tools and suggestions for practical activities communities can implement. We now have 122 Local Post Carbon Groups in 11 countries. Please sign up for our newsletter to learn more about our initiatives.

I hope you are inspired by David’s passion and ideas and will use that inspiration to work together in your communities."

For more information see the websites:
thegreatturning.net ballebc.com postcarbon.org and relocalize.net

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Click above to see on Powell's Books


Natto Breath

Moody challenged in a rhyme
“Try the natto”, so sublime

So I vowed, perhaps in haste,
I would give natto a fair taste

I knew just once would not suffice
So I sampled natto thrice!

I tried it first with mustard, hot
Mixed with shoyu - looked like snot

It burned my tongue - I’m sensitive
With shoyu only? Explicative!

Plain natto, unadulterated?
What I next uttered was x-rated

Soy beans cooked are so delicious,
And natto is super nutritious

But as for taste, I must say lastly,
That natto stuff is simply nasty

Though vegetarian I am
I’d rather eat green eggs and ham!



On the Coconut Wireless...

In my September 26th post, No Mo Da Kine Haupia? , I reported that Maui's own Roselani Ice Cream had to discontinue their signature flavor due to the loss of their coconut milk supplier.

Roselani has sent me a message on the "coconut wireless" to let me know that a replacement supply of coconut milk has been found and their ono (delicious) Haupia (coconut pudding) flavor is back in the freezer shelves of Hawaiian stores.

So, go check 'em, and enjoy. Don't over do it though. Like my motto says, "Ey, no get nuts!" But if you want to get nuts anyway, try their Classic Macadamia Nut ice cream.


Culture Day (Bunka no hi)

Friday was a national holiday in Japan - Culture Day. This day is set aside to promote appreciation of culture, freedom, and peace. Originally Meiji Emperor's birthday, it was renamed Culture Day after his reign. Every year on this day the Japanese government gives out Bunka Kunsho (the highest rank of Culture Award) to a few people who devoted their lives to promoting Japanese culture or higher achievements in academic fields.Kashima Jingu, the major Shinto shrine here, had a Sumo Festival in the morning. Additionally, there are chrysanthemum flowers on display at the shrine during the entire month of November.

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K and I headed over there in mid morning and she found a free parking space in her "secret" little parking lot just a block from the Torii which marks the entrance to the shrine. The shrine can become a busy place on holidays such as this.

There were not quite as many flowers on display as there were last year. You can see pictures I took then on my post "Mum's the Word". The displays that were there didn't have as many blossoms yet, so we'll have to check back later in the month.

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The Sumo Festival had just one more round to go by the time we arrived. Two boys faced off with their fathers holding them at the waist. A group of the shrine's priests, in their white robes and very cool hats, looked on at ringside. The match was ruled to be a draw and an enthusiastic audience applauded.

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The momiji (maple) tree in front of the Hondo (main hall of worship) was verdant. I enjoy seeing the changes this tree goes through during each season. You may recall the picture of it posted recently which showed it with autumn tinted leaves which became the cover for "Ya'sou!" online poetry magazine.

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Another annual event in November is celebrated on the 15th. It is called "Shichi Go San", literally "Seven Five Three". Parents bring their children who will turn seven, five, or three years of age in the coming year to the shrine dressed in kimono to pray for their growth and health. Several families took advantage of Culture Day to bring their children a bit early.

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After watching the sumo match we walked the 500 meters down the wide cedar lined path to the inner shrine with its older Hondo. We stopped at the souvenir shop there and enjoyed ocha (green tea) and Zenzai (sweet azuki bean soup with mochi rice cakes) and macha (a strong green tea made from powdered tea used in tea ceremonies) with rice cakes. Azuki beans are sweet whereas macha is slightly bitter, so the two dishes complement each other.

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Waiting for tea across from the 400 year old inner shrine.

We enjoyed Culture Day at the shrine. The weather in the late afternoon was getting cool, but we decided to take a bike ride to lake Kitaura. We spent our day in the spirit of the holiday, celebrating culture, our freedom, and peace.

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