After being selected to go on the 2014 Mt. Fuji study abroad program, I realized I didn’t actually know very much about Japan and was determined to change that. During our orientation sessions, we briefly discussed different aspects of the area we would be studying: water filtration, forestry, religion, cultural values, historical uses of land, and the geology of the area, to name a few.
I began my research on the very broad topic of water. I was fascinated by the filtration process the water went through, beginning as snowpack at the top of Mount Fuji and percolating through the volcanic substrate, emerging at the bottom of the mountain very pure and ready to be bottled. This topic turned out to be too broad though, and I had trouble finding a focus that would narrow my research.
Next I began to research forestry in Japan, specifically timber trade within the Pacific Rim. While I was doing this research, the use and production of wood pellets kept surfacing. From there, I began researching what wood pellets were used for, and came across energy usage in Japan. After reading an article about Japan’s desire to move away from Nuclear energy after the Fukushima disaster in 2011, and the potential use of devastated land to grow woody biomass, I was hooked.