Chapel Talk

Earlier this morning, our combined groups had the opportunity to lead a chapel service back home at Saint Olaf College. Here's a link to the archived service if you're interested: https://www.stolaf.edu/multimedia/play/?c=2563 (our individual talks are also written...

The Importance of Learning Through Conversation.

One of the main lessons I have learnt from living in an international community is that the lessons that last the longest are not learnt in the classroom but gained through conversation with people who have had different experiences from yourself. During one of the...

Landscapes in Japan

When I initially arrived in Japan in early January, I was not aware of much regarding Japan and its environmental history or what being there would actually be like. With Tokyo serving as my introduction, I knew that the rest of the course would do much to show me the...

Reflecting on Fukushima Visit

Fukushima. One month ago, I used this word to refer to the partial and complete meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant resulting from the cataclysmic earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. In most of my circles...

Thank You ARI

Sitting in the airport with my fellow Oles as we wrap up an incredible month, I thought that I would share the thank you video that I made for the staff at ARI. They were the most welcoming and hospitable people ever and I wanted to show them gratitude for all that...

A Moment of Truth

In the modern world that I live in, it seems that people are connected all the time because of Internet and technology. We are all used to communicate through phone, email, instant messages, Facebook, and all kinds of social media. But at the same time, I often feel...

Research Team Projects

Though it's a bit late in the month for introductions, there are seven Saint Olaf students who have been silent on this blog. We are the members of the 396 Environmental Research in Asia course, led by the fearless Paul Jackson, and have spent our time at ARI...

A Sketch from Fukushima

A few days ago, we went into the prefecture of Fukushima, where the Daiichi Nuclear Reactor Accident occurred in conjunction with the Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami. With Fukushima College Professor Ishii as our guide, we were able to look at some of the devastation...

Depression and Hope

It seems like since before our trip even started, everyone in our group was getting sick. One girl missed the flight because of illness, and it seems like there hasn't been a single day that my roommate hasn't been dealing with a migraine, a cold, or both. Considering...

Living Communities

Grappling with Disaster On Monday, our class toured the communities surrounding the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant. There is no way to accurately describe the experience we had, but I can say with confidence that it was undoubtedly sobering....

Food alienation

Today, I began writing my final paper on food alienation and its effects on perceptions of and interactions with the natural world. It has been so revealing to sort through my thoughts and experiences with various food cultures and attempt to compile them into a...

January 2-5

Flight. Tokyo food tour. Kahaku.

January 6-12

Asian Rural Institute. Nikko. Kinoshi Juku.

January 13-16

Tokyo. Nagawa-machi. Nōdai. Otaya Matsuri.

January 17-18

Free time!

January 19-30

ARI. Ashio. Watarase. Yotsuba. Fukushima. Farewell!

Greetings, dear reader!

Welcome to thoughts, photos and videos from students tracking the ideas and practices of community leadership around environmental sustainability in Japan. I’ve charged them with considering how local communities meet global environmental challenges, to counter the popular US image that Asia matters environmentally mostly as a source of problems. We learn through field trips, discussion, and symposia with Japanese students, and hands-on participation in daily food life at the Asian Rural Institute.

I hope you’ll enjoy these glimpses of our journey,

Kathy Tegtmeyer Pak
Associate Professor
Departments of Asian Studies & Political Science, St. Olaf College

Follow us on the ESJ 2016 Map

Links to all locations embedded in the map pins

Asian Rural Institute

Sakura Hotel Ikebukuro

Ikebukuro hostel that’s home for two nights.

Tokyo Central Youth Hostel

2nd hostel home, two more nights.

Unmemory Pension

Ski village hotel in Nagawa-machi.

Kinoshi Juku

Organic farm, consumer-supported ag & art.

Ashio Copper Mine

Notorious copper mine, source of labor movement & pollution tragedy.

Yotsuba Co-op

Tochigi Prefecture consumer co-operative.

Watarase Basin

Artificial reservoir created to protect Tokyo water from Ashio pollution.  Now a Ramsar Convention recognized wetland.

Fukushima University


Nagawa-machi, Nagano Prefecture – town of less than 8000 in the central mountains.

Nōdai (Tokyo University of Agriculture)

山村再生プロジェクト、農大 Mountain Village Revitalization Project at the Tokyo University of Agriculture (Nōdai)

Narita Airport


National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site.