Japan has won the distinction of being a major trading location for the illicit trade in ivory. So, we have to ask ourselves, is Japan the great respecter of nature and animals as we are led to think to allow the illegal trade in ivory to continue? The trade in ivory has been banned since the 1990s so what is going on in Japan where conditions make it possible to continue the trade in ivory?
Source: National Geographic
How Japan Undermines Efforts to Stop the Illegal Ivory Trade
Masters of the shamisen—a traditional stringed instrument—use an ivory bridge and pick to produce what they say is a superior sound. “It’s a very slight difference that experts alone can hear,” says Sayo ne-san, a geisha at the Asakusa Geisha Union, in Tokyo. Japan has consumed ivory from more than 260,000 elephants since 1970.
By Rachel Nuwer • September 24, 2018
Tokyo, JapanLike thousands of other Tokyo visitors on a recent summer day, we beelined for Asakusa, a popular tourist district. My companion and I were drawn not by the neighborhood’s famous Buddhist temple or its renowned geisha shows but by ivory. Banned in much of the world, here in Japan ivory is still sold openly and legally.
The hunt didn’t take long. Weaving through selfie-snapping crowds, past the thunderous booms of a live drum band and the tantalizing smells of freshly baked takoyaki, we stopped at random at a shop to ask for directions. We’d heard that a particular jewelry store nearby sold Chinese-style ivory jewelry. The shopkeeper shook his head: He didn’t think that place was around anymore.
“But if it’s ivory you’re looking for,” he said, “I can help you.”
Though his shop specialized in coral, he reached into a back drawer and pulled out a necklace. The intricate, matchbox-size carving dangling from its cord depicted Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, her swirling skirts surrounded by a dragon’s tight coils and a spray of phoenix feathers.
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