Japan’s Wisteria Flower Tunnel Is Like Walking Through A Rainbow

 

This isn’t a Monet painting—it’s a photograph.
It shows a flower tunnel at The Kawachi Fuji Gardens, a private garden on rural Kyushu Island in southern Japan. The garden is open to the public for only a few months a year.

 

 

The garden includes 20 different species of wisteria plants, but the wisteria tunnel is the garden’s prime spot. The pastel passageway looks like something straight out of a fairytale when the flowers are in bloom—all you need are roaming unicorns to complete the picture.

 

 

In the Buddhist religion, wisteria is a symbol of prayer. The Chinese flower is a member of the pea family and is known for its climbing vines and winding branches. The plants can climb as high as 65 feet above ground and can spread 32 feet laterally, according to University of Florida’s Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. The flowers bloom in lavender, violet, pink and white.

 

 

Visit in late April or early May to experience the full magic of the tunnel. Try to go during the “Fuji Matsuri” (“Wisteria Festival”) when the tunnel is in full bloom.

These houses can survive natural disasters

 

Japan Dome House, a modular home manufacturer, has been making and selling its styrofoam dome houses for over fifteen years, but since the April 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes, there has been a surge of interest in the company’s products.

Some readers may do a double take, as the material used for these homes is indeed styrofoam.

Polystyrene (more commonly known as styrofoam) is widely used for everything from cups and food containers to packaging material. Polystyrene is a petroleum-based product made from the styrene monomer, which is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

 

Some countries and municipalities around the world (including Taiwan and Portland, Oregon and Orange County, California in the U.S.) have also banned the use of polystyrene foam.

Nevertheless, the future of earthquake-resistant home building in Japan may very well come in the shape of domed houses built from this material.

Aso Farm Land
On April 16, 2016, a magnitude 7.0 main shock struck the city of Kumamoto in Kyushu Prefecture (following a foreshock two days earlier). The two earthquakes killed at least 49 people and injured some 3,000 others.

Many structures in Kumamoto and Oita Prefectures collapsed and caught fire, and more than 44,000 people were evacuated from their homes due to the disaster. Thousands of evacuees are still living in temporary housing.

However, among the structures that were not damaged was a small village of 480 houses at the Aso Farm Land resort, a health-themed national park built on a somma volcano, in Kyushu. Visitors to Aso Farm Land can enjoy numerous open-air hot springs and stay overnight in differently-themed accommodations.

The “Village Zone” of Aso Farm Land consists of 480 closely-packed dome-shaped houses made of a next-generation form of polystyrene foam. When the Kumamoto earthquake struck, none of these dome houses were damaged. This has has lead to a surge of interest in the technology behind their construction.

Fourth-Generation Building Material
Japan Dome House, based in Kaga City, Ishikawa Prefecture, claims that it has developed a fourth generation building material (following wood, iron, and concrete); and that its dome house has a number of characteristics that makes it superior to conventional materials and house shapes.

Using proprietary technology, it has developed an expanded polystyrene (EPS) product that is much stronger and more compact than the foam that is used for shipping material and food containers.

 

The company believes that its dome houses have a number of benefits. These include:

Ultra-Short Building Time

A dome house can be assembled in about a week by three or people, using modular dome pieces that weigh only about 80-kg (176 pounds).

Ultra-Low Cost
The company says that the total construction cost of a basic dome house is between ¥7 million and ¥8 million ($68,700 and $78,500) for a house with a floor space of about 36-sqm (387-sqft) and a ceiling height of 3 meters (9.8 feet).

Highly Earthquake Resistant
Because of its dome shape, the lack of a need for posts and beams in construction, and its extremely light weight the dome house is highly earthquake resistant.

Ultra-Thermal Insulating

Expanded polystyrene also has very high thermal insulating properties. This combined with the dome shape (which allows air to circulate by convection and prevents it from accumulating in corners) makes the dome house highly energy-saving.

Highly Durable
Polystyrene also does not rust or rot and is not subject to termite infestation. After assembly, the walls of the Dome House are also coated with fire retardant making the houses fireproof.

The dome shape of the house also makes it resistant to high winds.

Antioxidant Building Construction
The company also claims that its houses are healthy to live in because an anti-oxidant solution is kneaded into the polystyrene foam building material. Formaldehyde is also not used in the construction process which means that Japan Dome Houses do not suffer from “sick-house” syndrome.

Certification
The Dome House and the company’s specially developed polystyrene foam have also been certified by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Tourism and Industry as being compliant with national building codes.

Customizable Dome Houses
Japan Dome House has developed a number of modular parts for its dome houses, which makes them highly customizable.

The company says its dome houses are used around Japan not only as residences but also as small hotels, steam rooms, temples and churches, child care centers and educational facilities and even karaoke bars. Because they can be quickly assembled there is also growing interest in using them as temporary housing for evacuees from natural disasters.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Milano’s Hidden Jewels 1: Maido Japanese food street

I am on a business trip to Milan, a city that I have visited 100s of times before. And always almost with each visit I get more and more convinced that you only find good places (any place) if you wander.

 

My arrival to Milan this time was a complete disaster in terms of flight. I have arrived 21st of July in the morning after horrific flight from Doha (23+ hrs). I hade to do couple of meetings upon arrival then went out with my clients for a meal and back to the hotel swaying like a zombie. Although I live in almost similar time zone area of (Milan) but when I woke up earlier today I felt like being jet lagged. I was confused what should I eat and decided to walk to a cafe that I see on daily basis but never visited it, of course as usual my memory was terrible and I got lost 🙂

 

 

I never regret being lost not in my own thoughts not physically ever because I always end up in a fantasy land ..

I have first to explain how I decide to choose where to eat just to make you understand what I have ignored on my way. Its not quantum physics but its probably unlike anyone else. Smell of the place is the most important factor for me, and NO it doesn’t have to smell nice, delicious/yummy or flowery for me to decide to stay. For a restaurant … it must be smell-less if I am allowed to say, the minimum the smell of cooking the biggest the chance it will have me thinking twice about getting in. Then comes the design, cuisine, location, ambience etc.

So I walked 45 minutes and saw bunch of places ignored each and every one because they fail to met my parameters, until I have stumbled upon Maido Milano! A small Japanese street food shop/restaurant full of locals. Has almost zero smell of cooking and their menu looked stunning. The smell factor was tempting enough for me the interior too looked beautiful, so I gave it a try and my guts was telling me you will never regret this ..

Maido Milano is A welcome respite from the repetitive culinary homogeny offered in the bars, cafes and restaurants of Milan. Sure, there are some places that are better than others, but when it comes to variety, Italy in general seems stuck in another era of time. Yes, there are other Japanese restaurants, but unfortunately they, too, all adhere to the same ‘all you can eat’, mediocre forumlas. Maido breaks out and offers a wonderful and refreshing take on Japanese Street food, which is actually even pretty rare in the world.

Continue reading “Milano’s Hidden Jewels 1: Maido Japanese food street”