Kodo_Taiko_Drummers_Japanese_Culture

Kodo: Japan’s Legendary Taiko Drummers

 

I first discovered the thunderous power of Japan’s Kodo 20 years ago, when the Taiko drumming masters provided the scintillating soundtrack to the Christopher Lambert film, The Hunted. It was like nothing I’d ever heard– epic and exotic, emotionally dynamic, intricate and primal at the same time. I’ve been a devout fan ever since.

 

Making their debut at the Berlin Festival in 1981, Kodo is based on Japan’s Sado Island. They’ve since given over 5500 performances in 46 countries worldwide under the theme of “One Earth,” using music as a universal language through which they connect their traditional Japanese culture with others.  Spending about a third of the year touring overseas, Kodo’s world-renowned performances truly transcend borders, genres and time.

 

KODO_One_Earth_Tour_Mystery

Photo by Takashi Okamoto

 

Kodo returns to North America this year with their latest production, Kodo One Earth Tour: Mystery, which was created by its Artistic Director (and Japanese Living National Treasure), Tamasaburo Bando. A leading Kabuki actor and the most popular and celebrated onnagata (actor specializing in female roles) currently on stage, he has proven a catalyst for Kodo to break new ground in their critically acclaimed Taiko expression.

 

We recently had the chance to interview two members of the Kodo family, Taro Nishita and Eri Uchida, about the history of Taiko drumming, its mythological origins in Japanese folklore, being ambassadors for Japanese culture, and what life is like on remote Sado Island.

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Sea Turtle Inc Turtle Rescue Center in South Padre Island, Texas.

Our Sea Turtle Rescue with

Sea Turtle Inc

 

“We just got a call from the captain of a local shrimp boat,” said Jeff George, the Executive Director of Sea Turtle Inc. “They’ve got a sea turtle that was trapped in their nets this morning, and he’s in pretty bad shape. Do you have time to help out with a rescue?” Our answer to this sort of question is always an emphatic YES!

 

We were about 15 minutes into our tour of the Sea Turtle Inc facility in South Padre Island when George interrupted our conversation with Administrative Assistant Jean Pettit. We immediately dropped everything, piled into Pettit’s car, and made our way across the causeway to the town of Port Isabel.

 

Sea Turtle Inc Tour

Ivy, Who Lost a Flipper Before Being Rescued in 2014

 

Along the way, Pettit explained that this was the fourth call they’d gotten this year from the shrimp boat, The John Henry. The Texas Shrimp Association actively supports the use of Turtle Excluder Devices– a grid of bars with an opening, either at the top or bottom of the trawl net, through which larger animals such as sea turtles and sharks are ejected.

 

But occasionally large barnacles on a turtle’s back cause them to get entangled in nets and fishing lines, leaving them submerged and unable to catch a breath. This can lead to shock or even death if the turtle does not receive treatment. So it was with a mixture of excitement and trepidation that we hustled down the dock towards the boat.

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10 Amazing Caves

for Your World Travel Bucket List

 

Caves are mysterious and mesmerizing places to explore. From marble caves, caves filled with glowworms and those formed from glacial lagoons, to the largest crystals in the world, prehistoric rock art and ancient Mayan burial sites, they come in an incredible range of attractions. Each one we’ve visited during our travels has been more unique and fascinating than the last. Here are 10 amazing caves for your world travel bucket list:

 

Actun_Tunichil_Muknal Cave in Belize

ATM Cave in Belize, photo by Peter Andersen via Creative Commons

Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave (Belize)

The most popular cave in Belize, this is an experience best reserved for the fit and adventurous. Once a Mayan burial site, the ATM Cave is full of skeletons, pottery and other ceremonial objects left by the Maya. The cave’s most famous skeleton, “The Crystal Maiden,” features bones cemented into the floor by natural processes, leaving them with a sparkling appearance.

Through tropical rainforest, multiple streams and several different chambers, the 45-minute hike from the cave entrance will have you swimming, climbing and exploring along the way. The ATM cave is 5 km deep: The deeper into it you trek, the more recent the Mayan activities were, and the more ceramics and pottery of all sizes to be found.  Note that the inner chambers will require you to take off your shoes so as to not damage the priceless artifacts, and no cameras are allowed.

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lambsq

Eating Wildly with

Urban Foraging Expert Ava Chin

 

Some time ago I came across Ava Chin’s book about urban foraging, Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love & the Perfect Meal.

 

Foraging is the practice of gathering wild foods. While it sounds romantic, it’s actually a skill that one has to learn and practice. Once learned and practiced responsibly, foraging is a sustainable practice of connecting your plate to the environment you live in.

 

Ava Chin, who lives in New York City, was the “Urban Forager” columnist for the New York Times from 2009 to 2013. I sat down to talk with her about her book, the basics of urban foraging and how newcomers can learn some simple tips on how to eat wildly.

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Xunantunich_Belize_Castillo

The Ancient Mayan Ruins of

Xunantunich, Belize

 

There is a private ritual I have, sacred and (until now) unspoken, that helps me connect with ancient archaeological sites such as Xunantunich, Belize.

 

First, I consider the nature of time and human evolution. Last week a story was published in Science about the discovery of a fossilized mandible of an early human that lived around 2.8 million years ago in the Afar region of Ethiopia. Think about that: 2.8 MILLION YEARS! In that context, the 1300 years that have passed since the Mayans constructed the city of Xunantunich is merely the blink of an eye.

 

One of Several Stela Found at Xunantunich, Belize

One of Several Stela Found at Xunantunich

 

Secondly, if we’re with a guide or tour group, I use photography as an excuse to distance myself, tuning out everything around me. I envision the city as it was 1200 years ago, bustling with activity as the Belize Valley region’s top Maya civic ceremonial center.

 

Lastly, I imagine the reverence residents must have felt as they gazed up at “El Castillo” (the second tallest structure in Belize, at 130 feet). I ignore the world of computers, cars and cell phones, and explore Xunantunich through the eyes of someone from the Late and Terminal Classic eras. I try to see the city, not just as ancient archaeological relics from some distant past, but as a tangible tie to our current concept of “civilization.”

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Co-Founded by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett, Green Global Travel is an ecotourism, nature / wildlife conservation & cultural preservation magazine. More about us.

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• AFRICA
Egypt- Top 5 Eco Attractions
Morocco- A Journey into the Atlas Mountains
South Africa- Londolozi Game Reserve Safari
South Africa- Kruger National Park
South Africa- South Africa- Zulu Memories
Tanzania- Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

 
• ANTARCTICA
How To Get To Antarctica w/out Doing the Drake
The Haunting Beauty of Icebergs
Penguins of Antarctica
Taking the Polar Plunge
Top 5 Eco Attractions in Antarctica
Whales of Antarctica
 
• ASIA
India- Ranthambhore National Park
Laos- The Pastoral Paradise of Muang Ngoi
Malaysia- Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre
Malaysia- Orangutan Conservation at Sepilok
Nepal- Hiking The Annapurna Circuit
Taiwan- Top 5 Eco Activities in Taipei
Thailand- Top 5 National Parks
 
• AUSTRALIA/OCEANIA
Australia- Top 5 Eco Attractions
Australia-Kangaroo Island
New Zealand- Kapiti Island
New Zealand- Tongariro National Park
New Zealand- Top 5 Ecotourism Attractions
Tahiti- First Impressions
Tahiti- Photo Gallery
Tahiti- Moorea 4x4 Safari Tour
Tahiti- Moorea, Tiki Village Theater
Tahiti- Pearl Diving in Bora Bora
Tahiti- Ruahatu Marine Sanctuary, Bora Bora
Tahiti- Swimming With Sharks in Bora Bora
Tonga- Eua Island Eco Activities

 

• NORTH AMERICA
CANADA
Churchill- Into the Wild of Manitoba
Churchill- Polar Bear Fight
Churchill- Polar Bear Photo Gallery
Churchill- Tundra Wildlife

UNITED STATES
America’s Best Volcanoes
AK- Denali National Park
CA- Hiking The John Muir Trail
FL- Sanibel Island Eco Activities
FL- Crystal River, Swimming with Manatees
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GA- Top 5 Autumn Activities Around Atlanta
GA- Best Christmas Light Displays
GA- Top 20 Atlanta Christmas Events
GA- Jekyll Island Eco Activities
GA- Weekend in North GA Mountains
GA- Top 5 Eco Attractions in North GA
HI- Hawaii’s Big Island
HI- Hawaiian Mythology
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LA- Mardi Gras Indians Super Sunday
MT- Hiking Glacier National Park
NC- Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
NC- Asheville's Green Restaurants Scene
NC- Greensboro Travel Guide
NC- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
NC- Outer Banks Wild Horses
NM- Top 5 Eco Attractions
NY- Going Green in NYC
WV- Outdoor Adventures
Yellowstone- Mammoth Hot Springs
Yellowstone- Lamar Valley
Yellowstone- Grand Canyon & Hayden Valley
Yellowstone- Upper Geyser Basin
Yellowstone- Lower Geyser Basin

MEXICO
Cancun- Cancun Underwater Museum
Cancun- Mayan Museum of Archaeology
Cancun- Swimming with Whale Sharks
Riviera Maya- Monkeys, Pyramids & Pottery
Riviera Maya- Rio Secreto
Riviera Maya- Tulum & Coba
 
• CARIBBEAN