Kamogawa research trip: August 2011
Here is my picassa photo album:
We started off at the beach. I took a swim in the ocean while Garratt
attempted to catch gravelfish his man made fish trap. Archi got the
shit kicked out of him by a particularly hard wave. The surf was
pretty strong right onto the beach.
Later we met Chris H, went up to his house (which is on the end of a
supremely steep driveway) and set up the tent in his garden. Its a
pretty large space they have, with a good breeze and cool shade all
We finished off the evening by attending his sax performance with a
local folk/blues band in a really nice restuarant/bar down the street.
It was a pretty good turn out. Chris H said to me "I haven't seen this
many people together IN DOORS, in a long while!"
The restaurant had GREAT curry loaded with shredded chicken meat.
Being pretty exhausted, we all came back early and started bedding
down for the night.
Off in the distance could be heard the voice of a young girl roaming
the streets calling for her lost pet. After 40 minutes of this ghostly
child's voice echoing up from the valley below, the calling finally
ceased. But suddenly, there was a terrible screaming moan!
Was it a ghost that no one talks about, but everyone knows? Did
something terrible happen to the poor child's pet?
I felt a lump in my throat.. partially fear.. partially sadness.
Then I heard it again.. that terrible wailing!
AHH! this time it is coming from UP the mountain! "Thank goodness its
only wild animals! She must of already found her pet!" such a relief!
But what was it? Monkeys? Tanuki?
The next day we got up and had some quick breakfast, followed by
showers all around (it was hot as heck Friday), and piddled around
talking solar for a few hours. Then it was off to see the sites!
First stop: Meet the town chiefs at the sumi kiln. We chatted a bit,
they showed us around the kiln, pulled out some incredibly poisonous
snakes they found poking around and general chitchat. Chris bought 5
bags of sumi, at an incredibly reasonable price (1000 per bag!).
Next we went around to see the plot he is clearing in the rice
terrace, as well as to talk a bit about the water situation / micro
After that we slid by the gas station to meet with the son of the guy
who had started the paddle wheel project. With the father passing on,
the son is really keen on getting the system finished, but it was
apparent he really was waiting for someone to come along who A: had
some knowledge and skills in the area, and B: Willing to make a firm
commitment to help him get it done.
He also showed us up to one of the pre-war community water systems. It
is gravity fed by pipes up the mountain into a large concrete tank.
The land was rented, and when the ownership of the land recently
changed hands, the new land owner demanded that it be removed within 5
So the long and the short of it is that there is a good solid supply
of water from 3 sources pouring in through 30cm pipes, which can be
moved to wherever we decide to set up the water wheel.
The last major stop was checking out the school that they have been
working on converting to a community center. After the quake, it was
temporarily repurposed as an shelter relief shelter (i.e. a place to
escape from the northern shelters for a few days). Its quite posh!
Thick carpet in some of the rooms, full kitchens, nice tatami sleeping
rooms. Great stuff.
Anyway, LOTS of ideas floating around this project as to where to go
from here. The general plan is to try enticing startups and community
building projects. Tops would be offering classes and activities
there. Ultimately, the goal is to create something that entices the
local youth to STAY (or return after college) to their community, as
well as attract NEW settlers into the community. Research seems to by
high on the list as well: Sustainable farming, ecology, community
building, DIY utilities, etc.