Karuizawa Basecamp Passport

If you’re interested in skiing or snowboarding in Japan this season, Karuizawa Basecamp Passport is a super deal.

Five one day lift ticket coupons and a local discount ID card are included for JPY21,000 in the package.

The lift ticket coupons are valid at seventeen different ski resorts nearby Karuizawa. The resorts span Nagano and Gunma.

Each resort has a different special – for example, some offer free lunch tickets with the lift ticket, others offer free onsen hot springs tickets. One resort even lets two people ski for a single coupon.

Karuizawa, Japan’s premier four season mountain resort, is just an hour from Tokyo by bullet train. Premium accommodations and fantastic dining are available. There are over five hundred restaurants, cafes, and bars in town.

The “Passport ID” included is valid for local discounts at several dozen restaurants and shops in town.

By the way, the entire project is non-profit and was created by my friends and I here in Karuizawa.

More details available the website:


Karuizawa Toast on TV

Wow! …that was fast. Karuizawa Toast was introduced on nationwide Japanese television this week.  They asked this blogger to escort a fairly well known Japanese actress around Karuizawa and talk about Karuizawa’s wonderful french toast.

Needless to say, it was fun!

There are currently about two dozen venues in Karuizawa that offer “Karuizawa Toast” (French toast available in Karuizawa).

Here’s the Japanese video.

And… Sorry about the video quality… it was created by hand shooting a tv with an iPhone, and edited on an iPad. It’s a bit shaky!


Japan Adds Massive Amount of Renewables Thanks to FITs

Japan’s government finally released the June 2013 non-large hydroelectric renewable energy capacity numbers last night. These represent the results of the first year since the implementation of Japan’s aggressive Feed-in Tariff program in July of 2012. The numbers are impressive. Here they are:

Existing Renewable Energy Capacity up to June 2012: 20 GW
New Renewable Energy Capacity Installed July 2012 through June 2013: 3.7 GW
New Renewable Energy Capacity Approved Pipeline: 23 GW

Solar PV makes up about 90% of the newly installed capacity.

Interestingly, the media has started to spin the numbers a bit. According to a Jiji story which was picked up by Nikkei, Sankei and others, Japan added “3 nuclear reactors” worth of renewables. The number “3” seems to be based on  new nuclear reactors only which have a rated output of about 1.2 GW. Bloomberg, however, calls the new capacity “nearly 4 nuclear reactors” worth using a calculation of 1 GW per reactor.

In reality, the worldwide average nuclear reactor power output is about 800 MW which puts the number of nuclear reactor equivalents at about 5 here in Japan.

Whatever the number of reactors worth, it is a large amount of clean, safe, renewable power, indeed. It is especially large considering that Japan currently has ZERO nuclear reactors working right now. And has only had two of its fifty reactors running for the past year.

It should also be noted that Japan’s government has slowed down its release of this information. During the prior DPJ administration these reports were released within two or three weeks of the end of each month. Since the current LDP administration took over in January 2013, the ENECHO reports have been delayed by months at a time. Based on the old administration’s timeline, the July and August reports should have been released by now, and the September report should be released within a week or two. I have a strong suspicion that the numbers are being delayed due to politics of the current pro-nuclear administration.

Here is ENECHO Japanese language release page for the details.

Japan’s Renewables Rocket Growth Is Overwhelming Government and Industry

Since Japan began its renewable energy feed-in tariff system so many people and companies have decided to install systems, it’s apparently overwhelming the nation’s ability to report on progress. The boom is also causing up to half year wait times for simple rooftop solar panel installations.

As of November last year, the monthly reports from the government indicated a rapidly accelerating growth in the amount of renewable energy power generation in the nuclear radiation catastrophe torn nation.

Japan’s Ministry of Economics Trade & Industry (METI) is running weeks late with its next critical monthly report. METI normally issues the report mid-month following the close of the prior month. The current report for December of 2012 was to be issued around January 15th, but is now not expected till mid February at the earliest. The monthly report includes the amount of new renewable energy plants applied for, and that have begun power generation.

A ministry employee said, “it’s taking time to confirm all the power plants which have started generating power” regarding the delay.

Japan adopted a feed-in tariff system (FIT), similar to Germany’s extremely successful program. Anyone who builds a renewable energy power generation system is guaranteed to have their electricity purchased by the regional electric monopolies.

As of the last report on progress for the month of November, 2012 Japan was already far ahead of its plan to add 2.5GW of new renewable energy by the end of the fiscal year in March this year. As of November, nearly 4GW of new capacity had been applied for and approved. The rate of increase since the program began in July is also increasing. If the current rate continues, Japan could have over 9GW of new power plants applied for by end of June, marking the first year of the new FIT system.

Japan’s ministry employees are not the only ones being overrun with the terrific growth of renewables. A solar distributor for a major Japanese panel manufacturer told this blogger that a rooftop system currently takes up to six months to install due to the massive backlog.

Power Play – Germany : Great Short Film on Energy Revolution [Video]

Journeyman Films has a great short film on the energy revolution happening in Germany. It focuses on two villages, Schönau and Feldheim.

One interesting point is that the film translates the German term for feed-in tariffs as ‘subsidies’. According to Renewables International, the word actually translates as “funding”:

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Japan’s Renewable Energy Tariffs Are Coming!

According to many media sources today, the Japanese government is getting ready to finalize it’s renewable energy tariffs. According to Tokyo Shimbun, here is what they are going to be:

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