Hitachi

Sky Tree, the view from below and from up top

SkyTree_view_from_ground

日立さんのおかげで、やっとスカイツリーに登ることができました。構造と景色がすばらしいです。夕暮れのときがおすすめです。

Hitachi recently invited me to visit Sky Tree this summer. I’d delayed visiting because it seems far away from where we live, and because of the long lines. Seeing it complete, however, is very impressive with its exposed structure and unbelievable city views. I recommend going at twilight when the sunlight is dramatic, and then slowly the city lights up as the sky darkens.

Hitachi is responsible for the elevator between the first and the top observatory decks. In addition to its large capacity, the elevator ascends very quickly and is thus a showcase for Hitachi’s latest technologies. I was surprised to learn that when it is windy, this upper elevator is often closed for passenger safety.

I loved seeing the bay, the Sumida River, Marunouchi and in the distance Shinjuku.

SkyTree_sumida_marunouchi SkyTree_sunset

Gorgeous fall day at University of Tokyo campus

I attended a morning lecture at the University of Tokyo about landscape planning by Harvard Graduate School of Design professor emeritus Carl Steinitz. Many wonderful examples of Chinese, European and American large-scale landscapes, and a sense of continuity with Professor Steinitz’s professor and mentor, the illustrious urban planner Kevin Lynch.

My perspective on urban planning is far removed from lofty discussions of master plans. In my mind, Tokyo is a living city despite poor planning and governance. Those who believe in planning from above have difficulty in conceptualizing or benefiting from the enormous energy and capability of ordinary residents.

Leaving the lecture and on my way to a student cafeteria curry lunch, I was thinking these thoughts when I was struck by the autumn light against the mature trees and the shadows against the early 20th century brick buildings. There was a slight stench of ginko fruit. What a prefect visual and olfactory moment.

This week I have been very fortunate to hear several lectures by architects, urban critics, and landscape designers, including events at the Norwegian Embassy and Mori Building. It’s great to recognize so many talented people focused on urban environments and living with nature. I was also fortunate to share lunch with a Hitachi executive working on Smart City Business Management, a new division involved in global city projects. It was not surprising that he is a University of Tokyo alumnus.

Shiba koen under Tokyo Tower

Recently I had the great fortune to meet Handa Mariko, President of the Parks and Recreation Foundation, at her office near Tokyo Tower. She explained the work she does managing fourteen national parks run by the Construction Ministry, and her role as designer of the enormous Showa Kinen park in western Tokyo, on the site of a former US military base.

Then, Handa-san took me and a senior executive of Hitachi, who kindly introduced us, to Shiba koen at the foot of Tokyo Tower. Shiba koen is a traditional Japanese garden surrounding an old sake building that houses a famous tofu restaurant called Ukai. The juxtaposition of tradition and post-war modernism, the protected pine tree and the aging metal tower is magical.

Newsweek Japan article (日本語)

Newsweek Japan published my article about how Tokyo gardening turns public space into social space. The Tokyo Eye column allows Japanese to see how foreigners view and experience Tokyo, and I was asked to write in a very personal voice about how I experience living in Tokyo and why green space matters. I will post an English version soon.

東京の小さな緑を世界に誇れ

ジャレド・ブレイタマン

08年に仕事で初めて東京を訪れたとき、驚くと同時に感心させられたのは、この都市が実に人間的で、人と植物が共生する通りは活気に満ちあふれていたということだ。

多くの外国人と同じく私が東京に抱いていたイメージは、冷たく立ち並ぶ高層ビルと、渋谷のスクランブル交差点の雑踏、輝く広告のネオンだった。つまり、自然から完全に隔離された世界最大の都市を想像していたわけだ。

私自身これまでずっとガーデニングには深い愛情を注いできたが、東京の住民たちの植物を育てる情熱と創意工夫には今も驚かされる。そして、人間と建物がひしめき合う大都会で人と人を結び付けるコミュニティーが存在するという点にも。

ある日、初心者向けの陶芸教室を訪れた後、狭い歩道のアスファルトの割れ目から美しいパンジーが生えているのを見つけた。

東京ではほんの小さなスペースにも住民が気を配り、「緑の息吹」が宿っている。この印象がきっかけとなり、私はサンフランシスコから東京に移り住む決心をする。私は幸運にも日立と米外交問題評議会(CFR)が提携するフェローシッププログラムの奨学金を得て、デザイン人類学と都市生態学を融合させた「東京の小さな緑」の研究を始めることになった。

東京はアメリカやヨーロッパの都市とは異なり「小さな緑」にあふれていながら、日本人自身にはそのユニークな特徴に気付いていない。道端のパンジーがそれを気付かせてくれた。そこで私は、以下のような問いを掲げてみた。

1.なぜ東京の人々は自分の周りの環境にそれほど気を配るのか。

2.建物が密集する都市部で、自然はどのような役割を果たすのか。

3.東京のガーデニング文化から他の都市は何を学べるのか。

。。。

Newsweek Japan の全記事を読んで下さい!

東京新聞が「Tokyo Green Space」について書いてくれました

東京新聞が「Tokyo Green Space」について書いてくれました。十二月七日に日立で行ったプレゼンテーションのことに関してです。

Tokyo Shimbun wrote about Tokyo Green Space. The article is about my presentation conducted on December 7 at Hitachi’s headquarters.

Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Last week I gave several talks about Tokyo Green Space, including at Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Gaimusho, 外務書). The 1960s modernist building and landscaping impressed me. You can see the bright yellow ginkos in the background and the last fall leaves in the foreground.

My main point to the Ministry was that Japan has not done a good job of explaining its accomplishments in creating livable cities. Both its ordinary gardeners who compensate for a history of poor planning, and its landscape visionaries who are creating new public spaces for people and wildlife are unknown within and outside Japan. Most foreigners are surprised at how human-scaled and enjoyable Tokyo is.

Given climate change and global urbanization, Japan should promote its achievements and expertise in new urbanism, with relevance to developed and emerging cities around the world.

I also gave talks last week at Hitachi Ltd Headquarters to an audience that included Hitachi global business, defense systems, environmental strategy, and research institute leaders, as well as Kajima and ARUP biodiversity specialists, university professors, and Japanese media. Voted the MVP (most voted person), I also gave an impromptu speech, in Japanese, at the wonderful TEDxSeeds conference organized by the extraordinary culture curator Satoh Keiko.

Hitachi CFR Opportunities

More than three months into my Council on Foreign Relations Hitachi International Affairs Fellowship, I am astounded by the wide range of activities it has allowed me to participate.

In the past week alone, I met Japan’s most prominent scenario-planning business consultant, Nishimura Michinari of Greenfield Consulting, attended a Japan Initiative forum featuring new Diet members with a prominent design and communication leader, met the former Patagonia Japan president who is now promoting permaculture, heard a lecture about net-native nation from Amazon Japan’s director of public policy, met a Sophia University anthropology professor, was interviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle‘s transportation reporter, attended the monthly Pecha Kucha design forum, and visited the Innovation Lab at Hakuhodo, one of Japan’s largest advertising agencies and one of the most beautiful offices I have ever visited.

I realize what a unique opportunity this fellowship is, and am very grateful to my sponsors and the open-minded Japanese who have been very patient with my Japanese and generous with their time.

Environmental Management and Biodiversity at Hitachi

Hitachi 2009 Environmental Sustainability Report 2009

It was exciting to meet several leaders of Hitachi’s Environmental Strategy Office, who explained Hitachi’s leadership in corporate environmental management and in worldwide environmental standards through the IEC TC 111 ( International Electrotechnical Commission’s environmental standards). Across seven fields of business and products– including ICT, power, and high functional materials and components–Hitachi has developed its own IT system for tracking sustainability progress along eight criteria: resource reduction, longevity, recyclability, disassembly and disposal, enviornmental protection, energy efficiency, information provision, and packaging.

Hitachi Product Life Cycle

Beginning in 2009, Hitachi produces an annual Environmental Sustainability Report (2.05 MB download) separate from its Corporate Social Responsibility Report to provide greater transparency and details about its long-range goals and annual performance in preventing global warming, conserving resources, and preservation of ecoystem.

The complexity of Hitachi and its environmental goals are both staggering. As Hitachi and Japan seek to contribute to global environmental progress, they have identified a need to not only monitor the environmental impact of manufacturing and distribution, but to also create new global standards measuring indirect carbon emissions, or the environmental benefits achieved by their customers using new eco-products. As international governments move toward strong carbon emission agreements, knowledge and standards must continue to improve.

Hitachi direct and indirect emissions

In addition to environmental management, Hitachi is also weighing the effects of energy change on its core businesses. One central research and strategy group shared with me a summary document exploring future scenarios and their implications. Without discussing the content, I am impressed by Hitachi’s mastery of this important strategic planning method, originally developed by Royal Shell. The scenarios guide immediate senior executive and business group decisions, with detailed metrics for continuous monitoring.

Several things struck me as particularly forward-looking in Hitachi’s Environmental Strategy Office: a vision of sustainability as a critical business opportunity, an appreciation of eco-diplomacy, an eagerness to measure the global impacts of corporate products and national technologies, the support from Hitachi’s most senior executives for comprehensive environmental change, and the emergence of cross-product focus on “social infrastructure” that include power, transportation, and information and communication technologies. One of the themes of Tokyo Green Space is global urbanization, and new, integrated approaches are essential for making sustainable both mature and emerging cities.

I was also very encouraged to hear that Hitachi is focusing on biodiversity as a new mid-term goal for the next 5 to 10 years. This movement from reducing negative effects to creating positive impacts strikes me as particularly visionary and capable of creating tremendous change. I can only imagine the challenge of promoting new visions of sustainability in a corporation with 1,100 companies, 10 trillion yen in revenue, and over 400,000 employees. My meeting convinced me that Hitachi has some of the smartest leaders working on environmental management.

2025 Emission reduction target

Wildlife in Kamakura

Wildlife in Kamakura, Dragonfly, Hasadera

A day trip to Kamakura to visit a Hitachi environmental strategist turned up many delightful wildlife within Tokyo’s commuter shed. Hasedera Temple has an amazing garden on a steep hillside with views of the ocean. Several types of dragonflies were there, including this amazing red one.

Red dragonfly, Hasedera Temple, Kamakura

Sunning themselves on lotus leaves were turtles.

Turtles, Hasedera Temple, Kamakura

Outside the temple, I was startled to see a swallow’s nest above a convenience store entrance. The young birds seemed unperturbed by people or commerce.

Swallows, convenience store, Kamakura

Equally ubiquitous were hawks, circling, squawking and apparently endangering beach picnics.

Hawk sign, Kamakura

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Hitachi high speed trains begin in UK

Hitachi high speed trains begin in UK

Hitachi’s Javelin train began UK high speed rail’s first domestic service last week. The trains travel at 225 kph between Kent and London using the under-utilized tracks built for the Eurostar Chunnel trains to Paris and Brussels. Travel time will be cut in half.

It is a great first step for Britain’s domestic high speed rail program, and welcome news for my fellowship sponsor Hitachi. Perhaps more Britains will become enthusiastic about high speed rail with this launch. And maybe it will influence its former colonies, including the United States, which is even further behind in high speed rail.

Hitachi’s environmental technologies include high speed rail, smart grids and wind power.

Affiliation with Tokyo University of Agriculture

Tokyo University of Agriculture

I am thrilled to receive an affiliation with Tokyo University of Agriculture for my Council on Foreign Relations Hitachi fellowship. Also known as Nodai,Tokyo University of Agriculture is one of Japan’s most respected schools, with strengths in agriculture, the environment and landscape design. I will be hosted by the Department of Landscape Architecture Science.

Why green cities?

Green cities, where the urban forest replaces concrete slabs, are receiving new support from city governments and corporations. The Tokyo Municipal Government announced many exciting green city initiatives starting in 2006 in a ten year plan for transforming the city in its bid for the 2016 Olympics. Other motivations include climate change, heat island effect, energy efficiency, and tourism.

Japanese governments and corporations are begining to promote their leadership in green cities for a global audience. It is a pleasure to see Hitachi, a sponsor of Tokyo Green Space, promoting environmental diplomacy in China. Under Hitachi’s China Energy Conservation and Environment Commercialization Promotion, Hitachi activities include sharing water treatment technologies with Sichuan University and hosting an “eco-cities” conference with Chinese government organizations and corporations.

Hitachi CEO Kawamura Takashi is backing an unprecedented 2025 Environmental Vision in which Hitachi products will reduce global CO2 emissions by 100 million tons. This ambitious vision seeks a 50% reduction from 2000 levels. And to provide a concrete idea of the size of this committment, Hitachi explains that eliminating 100 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions would require a new cedar forest of 130,000 square kilometers, or one third the size of all of Japan.

Hitachi's image of forest required to eliminate 100 million tons of CO2

Hitachi’s bold plans suggest that reversing climate change is not a charitable gesture but essential to its business success in a global marketplace. Rather than seeing trade-offs, Hitachi envisions “harmonious coexistence of environmental preservation and economic growth.” 

Efforts to reduce carbon dioxide and promote the environment must of necessity focus on cities. According to the United Nations Population Fund, in 2008 more than half the world’s population, 3.3 billion, were living in cities. If the 20th century saw urban global populations rise from 220 million to 2.8 billion, the rate is now only increasing. By 2030, almost 5 billion people will be living in urban areas, with the largest growth rates in Africa and Asia. The UNPF estimates that in 2030, more than 80% of urban residents will be in the developing world.

If designed well, the city of the future promises to be most sustainable environment for the world’s population. It is exciting to see how Japan, with its 30+ years in energy efficiency and bold new ideas, is becoming a global leader in smart growth, technology and the environment.

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