Saturday, June 27, 2009

Oita prefecture goes green

My general image of people in Oita prefecture is that they are generally very tight with their money and not exactly environmentally friendly or very "up with the times". Things seem to be changing though. For the last few years most supermarkets have been making efforts to encourage people to bring their own bags by giving discounts or using stamp cards. This had very little impact.... but recently the majority of supermarkets have worked together and now charge 5 yen for a plastic supermarket bag. The fact that people have to pay 5 yen (rather than get a 5 yen discount) seems to have worked for the "stingy" people here and the majority of people now bring their own bags. We may not be able to save the world, but we can help!
The other "green" movement that has been gaining major momentum lately is the planting of grass. I can remember being shocked when I first saw the school grounds here in Japan - they are simply a huge dirt ground. The children play soccer there, they play baseball there, they do athletics there and they fall over there... lots of injuries that could be prevented if the grounds were grass - not to mention the cooling effect of grass in the really hot Japanese summer. People are finally starting to recognise this fact and the number of schools and kindergartens that are planting grass are increasing every week here in Oita. This is mostly due to the efforts of a New Zealander called Neil Smith. He has managed to promote the virtues of grass to many areas of Japan and this morning the kindergarten that my children used to go to planted their grass - after my husband introduced the new method etc. Although we got there a little late it was great to see all the fathers there with their trowels and working together with the children to plant the grass. We have been trying to convince the school to do it too, but things are not looking so promising there. I guess change takes a little more time in the countryside.....


  1. Oh god PLEASE send them over to our school, PLEASE!

  2. I'm so impressed! I've never seen grass at any kind of school up here. Wonder how long it will take to catch on here...

  3. i wish our schools had grass...

    the local rugby fields have loads of (absolutely gorgeous) grass. even the kids' playground area has grass.

  4. This article reminds me of what your husband and you told us when we stayed at you cottage. It is very good activity for fathers who have kindergarten children.

    I am impressed with your husband's and your efforts on this issue. I hope your success in this field.