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Tue, Feb. 6, 2018 Yokkaichi: Bringing Back the Skies
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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.

Yokkaichi Petrochemical Complex
Yokkaichi Petrochemical Complex
Enjoy views of the sprawling industrial complex from an observation deck or from scheduled cruises.
Inquiries: Yokkaichi City Tourism-City Promotion Section
Tel: +81(0)59-327-5377
Yokkaichi industrial complex night-view cruise
Yokkaichi industrial complex night-view cruise
Don't miss the spectacular nighttime scenery of the industrial complex from the sea. 60-minute and 90-minute cruises are operated.
Only available on weekends.
Inquiries: Daiichi Kanko Night Cruise Desk
Tel: +81(0)59-347-7177
Yokkaichi Pollution and Environmental Museum for Future Awareness
Yokkaichi Pollution and Environmental Museum for Future Awareness
Drop by this museum to learn all about Yokkaichi's pollution history and measures taken to clean the air. Closed on Mondays.
1-3-16 Yasujima, Yokkaichi City, Mie Prefecture
Tel: +81(0)59-354-8065
Try Yokkaichi's famous tonteki. It's a hearty dish of pork loin, stir-fried in garlic and a rich sauce. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
2-7-24 Matsumoto, Yokkaichi City, Mie Prefecture
Tel: +81(0)59-353-0748
Pop into this space devoted to Banko-yaki-the traditional pottery of Yokkaichi. Works from the city's many pottery studios are for sale. Pottery-making workshops are also available. Closed on Mondays.
4-8 Toei-cho, Yokkaichi City, Mie Prefecture
Tel: +81(0)59-330-2020
This Banko-yaki studio has been in operation for more than 100 years, spanning 3 generations. Visitors can book a pottery workshop with advance reservations. Irregular holidays, so call ahead.
19-4 Minami-ikaruga-cho, Yokkaichi City, Mie Prefecture
Tel: +81(0)59-332-8218
Run by a tea-farming family, this space-converted from the ancestral home-offers Yokkaichi's specialty, kabuse tea.
Open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
998 Suizawa-cho, Yokkaichi City, Mie Prefecture
Tel: +81(0)59-329-2611
To reach Yokkaichi, take a Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo station to Nagoya, and change there to the Kintetsu Railway or JR line. The entire trip takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Travel Log

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!

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