Japanese environmental group to tour Kaua’i


The Rev. Noriaki Fujimori of the Waimea Higashi Hongwanji, along with some of the youth members of the church, spearheaded the start of a group called the Environmental Awareness Project (EAP) in January. The group has a goal of being less wasteful, as well as following good recycling practices.

The EAP group is now hosting a study tour group from the Minamata Disease Environmental Center in Kumamoto, Japan as well as people from the Kyshu area of Japan. The tour begins this weekend and runs through Feb. 18.

The Kunamoto area is the site of the tragic poisoning of some of its residents through mercury pollution they digested by eating contaminated fish. Documentary photographs taken decades ago of the victims of the poisoning being helped by their families and neighbors are known worldwide.

he Japanese visitors are coming to Kauai to learn more about the island’s environment, its history, culture, and the current state of its natural resources.

While here, the group will be teaching the EAP group and the public how to make environmental products such as recycled soap from used cooking oil and an environmental map.

The Minamata Disease Center was formed in 1974 to assist patients and their caregivers with all problems related to their daily lives, to conduct research on Minamata disease, and to disseminate research and field-work results to the public after an unknown disease broke out in the fishing villages on the Shiranui Sea.

Minamata Disease was discovered for the first time in the world at Minamata City, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan, in 1956. Almost ten years later the disease was discovered in residents of Niigata City, Niigata Prefecture, Japan, in 1965.

Both cases were attributed to the methyl mercury that was generated in the process for producing acetaldehyde using mercury as catalyst. Methyl mercury had accumulated in fishes and shellfishes and those who ate them had been poisoned with it.

These cases of the poisoning with organic mercury poisoning were the first known to take place in the world through a food chain-affected by environmental pollution.

The public is invited to come and meet the visiting environmental group, and to learn more about creating sustainable communities.

The tour group from Minamata is set to learn about the native Hawaiian concepts of ahupua’a and ‘aina on Kaua’i and visit a taro patch in Haena on Feb. 10. On Feb. 11 Nelson Ka’ai is escorting the group, and on Feb. 12 they are set to make Hawaiian salt at the Salt Pond Complex in Hanapepe.

On Feb.13 they will study the connection between culture, nature and hula of Kaua’i, about recycling efforts here, about fresh water resources and wastewater treatment, plus landfills on Kaua’i.

Making soap using recycled cooking oil is scheduled for Feb.14, followed by a community studies lesson on environmental management on Feb. 15. They also plan to make an eco-green map in Waimea.

Arisa Ori of the Minamata Disease Center is presenting a lecture on “Environmental problems and creating Sustainable Communities” on Sunday, Feb. 16. A sale of the environmental products and foods begins at 10 a.m. at the Waimea Higashi Hongwanji. Admission to the environmental fair is $5.

The Rev. Fujimori is asking for help from the community in order to make this project work. He needs the following items: used cooking oil; a kupuna who can escort the group to study the community from view point of nature such as water, trees, animals; and some assorted recycled goods.

For more information, contact the Rev. Fujimori at 338-1847.


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