A Greener Autumn

Environment Trends & Culture - November 6th, 2009
eco

by Danielle Rippingale


Autumn blew in early this year with a typhoon to make sure we noticed it! Arguably Japan’s most beautiful season, autumn is marked by regional festivals that celebrate the season of harvest and fall colors. Autumn foliage, or kouyou in Japanese, can be enjoyed throughout the various regions of Japan starting in Hokkaido in early September and finishing up in southern Japan as late as December.

Less than an hour from Tokyo, the beautiful seaside town of Kamaku- ra is an easy day trip. During late November and early December the magnificent autumn maple and gingko leaves can be enjoyed at Engaku Temple and Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine’s in Kamakura.

For those wanting to watch the changing colors in Tokyo’s local gardens, the Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association offers English online resources including a flower calen- dar and park recommendation list: www. teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en.

Among the gardens described by the Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association is the beautiful Edo-style garden of Riku- gien. Located in Bunkyo-ku, this historic garden was designed based on the theme of Waka poetry in 1702 and is just a seven- minute walk from Komagome station on the Namboku Line. Entry is ¥300.

While exploring autumn in Japan, it is important to remember that the Japa- nese describe the season by saying, “Onna gokoro to aki no sora,” which means it is as changeable as a woman’s emotions! If this unpredictable weather has you running for cover, consider these style conscious and eco-minded autumn essentials.

Dry feet are happy feet especially when they are walking in handcrafted and 100 percent non-Amazon harvested natural rubber boots from Aigle. Unlike most rainboots, the Chantebelle boot is lightweight with an adjustable calf strap at the top to ensure you don’t fill them during a Tokyo downpour. This seasons colours of silver, gold, purple and light blue are available at Aigle locations throughout Tokyo or online at www. aigle.co.jp (¥15,540).

According to the Japan Umbrella Promotion Association, Japan is the world’s largest umbrella consumer, with approximately 130 million umbrellas purchased every year. It is believed that the vast majority of these are the cheap and highly disposable clear plastic umbrellas. To encourage umbrella ownership, the MOTTAINAI Umbrella Project was launched this year with ten umbrellas designed by renowned cre- ative and pop artists. The hope is that people will be more inclined to look after their umbrellas, rather than dispose of them so readily. The umbrellas are available for purchase at the MOTTAINAI web store (www. mottainai-shop.jp) and various retailers throughout Tokyo.

MOTTAINAI has collaborated with Shibukasa (‘Shibuya Umbrella’) by offering them the recycled plastic umbrellas gathered through the MOTTAINAI Free Market. Started in 2007, Shibukasa promotes the recycling and reuse of plastic umbrellas by lending out umbrellas free of charge at participating shops in Shibuya ward. The umbrellas can be identified by their sticker logo depicting light blue umbrellas in a recycle spiral (www.shibukasa.com).

The reversible and recycled ‘think green’ parka by French lifestyle brand Aigle will keep you snug this autumn season. With insulation made from recycled PET bottles, this lightweight parka is reversible to a contrast- ing color to match your mood (available in four color combinations at Aigle stores throughout Tokyo, including Omotesando, ¥21,000).