Category Archives: Japan

Metro column: Sad end for Japantown’s field of memories

15 June 2009 05:27

Later this week, the Vancouver Canadians baseball team will play its much-anticipated season opener at Nat Bailey Stadium.

Expect the scene to be an upbeat one — from the singing of Take Me Out To The Ball Game to Little Leaguers cheerfully chasing foul balls in the bleachers.

But not far away, in the Downtown Eastside, a far less happy baseball story is being played out.

At Oppenheimer Park, in Vancouver’s old Japantown neighbourhood, the historic playing field of the Asahi baseball team is being demolished. The City of Vancouver is removing the ball diamond as part of its renovation of the park. Continue reading

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Filed under Culture, Environment, Green Space, Heritage, Immigration, Japan, Neighbourhoods, Parks, Politics, Protest, Sports, Vancouver

Metro column: Politicians on slow train to nowhere

25 May 2009 05:22

This Wednesday, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson will travel to Portland to speak at the Cascadia Rail Partnership Conference — a gathering of transport pundits, policy wonks and politicians focused on bringing high-speed rail to the corridor stretching between Vancouver and Eugene, Ore.

The group should be especially energized, thanks to last month’s funding announcement by U.S.
President Barack Obama — pledging $8 billion for high-speed rail along major population corridors, including the Pacific Northwest.

But frustrated Vancouverites stuck in airport queues or traffic jams en route to the U.S. West Coast would be wise not to envision themselves rocketing down the I-5 corridor in a Shinkansen bullet train just yet. Continue reading

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Filed under British Columbia, Cascadia, Commuting, Japan, Portland, Seattle, Tourism, Transportation, Vancouver

Metro column: North Americans hungry for ‘Kei Jidosha’

With Earth Day just around the corner, it’s a good time for some serious reflection on the part of North America’s troubled automakers.

It’s no coincidence General Motors and Chrysler are facing potential financial Armageddon at the same time consumer tastes in cars have changed radically.

Let’s face it: Last year’s sky-high gas prices have ushered in an era of unprecedented demand for smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Buyers aren’t just focused on their wallets, mind you. Continue reading

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Filed under Commuting, Industry, Japan, Transportation

Trailer parks for the homeless?

Gregory Henriquez, the Vancouver-based architect, isn’t afraid of challenging local defenders of the status quo.

Last year, the principal of Henriquez Partners Architects felt the wrath of some vocal North Vancouver residents, who railed against his proposal for an iconic 40-storey highrise on the sleepy Lower Lonsdale waterfront.

The boobirds eventually got their way, and Henriquez’ design was chased away. Continue reading

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Filed under British Columbia, Culture, Environment, Events, Gentrification, Green Space, Heritage, Immigration, Japan, Neighbourhoods, Nimbies, Parks, Urban Planning

Metro column: Vancouver deserves better rail travel

January 26, 2009

Last week’s inauguration of Barack Obama has not only raised the hopes of those looking for a major shift in United States foreign policy, it has also changed expectations for that country’s urban and transportation policy.

The president-elect, the thinking goes, will be looking to stimulate the economy by investing in major infrastructure projects in cities — including those devoted to public transport such as railways. Canada’s politicians would be wise to follow that lead.

Rail travel — while long neglected in this country — is now being recognized as a smart alternative to worsening road congestion. Compared to automobile or even air traffic, it also makes good environmental sense, producing less carbon emissions. Which makes it hard to understand the sorry state of inter-city passenger rail in this region.
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Filed under 2010 Winter Olympics, British Columbia, Cascadia, Commuting, Environment, Japan, Osaka, Politics, Seattle, Tourism, Transportation

In Japan, “cars no longer cool”

An Associated Press artice — appearing in today’s Globe and Mail — looks at how Japan’s younger generations are no longer enthralled with the idea of owning and operating their own automobile.

The reasons for this trend, which the article doesn’t really go into with any depth, are varied, but they have a lot to do with Japan’s exceptional public transit environment. In short, in most major Japanese cities, a car is a lifestyle choice, not a transportation necessity.

And given the cost of gasoline, parking, and frequent highway tolls, “owning a car is more trouble than it’s worth.”

That kind of thinking — which automakers here have dubbed “kuruma banare,” or “demotorization” — is a U-turn from earlier generations of Japanese who viewed car ownership as a status symbol. The trend is worrying Japan’s auto executives, who fear the nation’s love affair with the auto may be coming to an end.

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Filed under Commuting, Japan, Transportation

A future at the farm for urban youth?

Terrie’s Take, a weekly look at business issues in Japan, reports (along with Nikkei.co.jp) that the country’s government is recruiting urban youth to take up rural jobs — in farming, forestry, and fishing. It’s part of a masterplan to revitalize rural communities in Japan through subsidies.

The biggest challenge will be finding youths who are willing to do manual labor and live a harsh rural life. Unless recruited in China or SE Asia, our guess is that the recruitees will have to be those given a choice of either remand school or rehabilitation through rural work…! We’re not sure how Japan’s elderly
farmers will take to such rookie employees.

Here in North America, this concept has already played itself out in a Paris Hilton reality TV program.

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Filed under Industry, Japan