On this journey, we visit Yokkaichi in northern Mie, central Japan. This industrial city, with a population of just over 300,000, is home to Japan's first petrochemical complex. It's known as the place where air pollution from sulfurous acid gas emissions caused respiratory diseases, called "Yokkaichi asthma," in the 1960s. Thanks to sweeping environmental protection measures, the environment has been vastly cleaned up, and the petrochemical complex has become a source of tourism-especially its nighttime factory cruises. The city is also famous for its ceramic ware, called Banko-yaki. Some local studios offer pottery-making workshops. Visitors can also take in the tea fields that flank the city's edge and enjoy high-quality beverage in a cafe run by a tea-farming family. Journalist Alice Gordenker travels to Yokkaichi, a city that has recovered from air pollution.
Inquiries: Yokkaichi City Tourism-City Promotion Section
Only available on weekends.
Inquiries: Daiichi Kanko Night Cruise Desk
1-3-16 Yasujima, Yokkaichi City, Mie Prefecture
2-7-24 Matsumoto, Yokkaichi City, Mie Prefecture
4-8 Toei-cho, Yokkaichi City, Mie Prefecture
19-4 Minami-ikaruga-cho, Yokkaichi City, Mie Prefecture
Open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
998 Suizawa-cho, Yokkaichi City, Mie Prefecture
Traveler: Alice Gordenker > More Info
Occupation:Journalist, travel advisor, consultant to museums
Length of residence in Japan:18 years
Reason:To study Japan and Japanese language. I'm still learning!
Yokkaichi was so much more than I expected. My time there was more than an opportunity to learn, explore and experience; it was also an opportunity to think about the good that can be accomplished through tourism.
Half a century ago, during Japan's period of rapid economic growth, Yokkaichi was the site of one of the country's worst cases of industrial pollution. Today, the city is clean again. Yet rather than hide that painful history, the people of Yokkaichi share it openly and honestly so that others will not make the same mistakes.
I also experienced much beauty in Yokkaichi, from snow-dusted tea fields and distant mountain ranges to the amazing craftsmanship of traditional handmade ceramics. As always, what I enjoyed most were encounters I shared with the warm and wonderful people I met along the way.
Please join me for a journey of discovery in Yokkaichi!