Summer Festival: Alternative Power By Heroes Of The Environment


Love music? Summer festivals like Fuji Rock are huge events here with hundreds of thousands of participants and bands from all over the world. Organizers are adding lectures about the environment, and inviting NGOs to promote their causes. This weekend you can join the AP Bank Festival - an outdoor music festival in Tsumagoi in Shizuoka Prefecture, south west of Tokyo.

All profits from the event are used as seed money for lending to environmental projects and for AP Bank's activity fund. The festival's highlight is the live music of the Bank Band, anchored by Takeshi Kobayashi and Kazutoshi Sakurai, and guest musicians.

Festival-goers get to enjoy organic food and check out environmentally friendly products for sale, presentations on various environmental topics, hands-on workshops, and booths showcasing AP Bank-funded environmental projects. Time Magazine listed Kobayashi and Sakurai as Heroes of the Environment in 2007. Ironically, perhaps, that nature intervened with a typhoon last year, and many of the concerts had to be cancelled. We are hoping this weekend will be rain-free!


The AP Bank Festival has achieved a landmark first for any major outdoor music event in Japan - only reusable plates and utensils are used. All plates and cups for food and beverages sold are collected, washed by volunteers, and then reused, eliminating what would normally be a huge amount of garbage. Other waste from the venue is separated into nine categories, measured on the spot, and then the amount of each type of garbage is reported in real time. Energy is a mix of wind power and biodiesel, certified by a local supplier, with CO2 emmission reduction targets.

An eco-report is issued with highlights about the environmental accounting processes.

AP Bank is incorporated as a non-profit, limited-liability company to provide loans for renewable energy and other environmental projects. As Time Magazine noted:

That's where AP Bank — the name stands for Artists' Power or Alternative Power — comes in. Together with the Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, Sakurai and Kobayashi in 2003 founded and funded the nonprofit lending group, which finances environmentally friendly projects. The three men personally provided nearly $1 million of seed money (Sakamoto has since stepped back from the venture as he now spends much of his time abroad), which is channeled to small-scale, sustainable schemes that mainstream banks would typically shun in favor of lending to bigger, stodgier companies. The bank has provided money for projects ranging from a recycling program in the far south of Kyushu to the construction of an eco-resort in the Marshall Islands. "When I thought about what I could do as an individual, the environment came up," says Kobayashi, AP Bank's president. "Money for the sake of money isn't great, but money is a tool, and people can use it as a community."


Do watch the video from the AP Bank Festival 2006 with Gaku-MC, featuring Sakurai Kazutoshi and a terrific crowd:

Written by Martin Frid at

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