Raised in the tumult of Japan’s industrial powerhouse, the 11 men and women profiled in A Different Kind of Luxury have all made the transition to sustainable, fulfilling lives. Based on Andy Couturier's popular articles in The Japan Times, this lushly designed volume has a wealth of stories about real people who have created an abundance of time for contemplation, connecting with the natural world, and contributing to their communities. In their success is a lesson for us all: live a life that matters. Read an excerpt of the book here or here. Read a review of the book here, here, or here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

New excerpt from the book published in Kyoto Journal

Akira Ito, Self Portrait as Painter Among Cherry Blossoms
I've just had a new piece published in Kyoto Journal. It includes a piece of writing by one of my subjects, Mr. Akira Ito, and it's a beautiful meditation on what we may learn from plants. Here's the beginning: Growing like thunderheads all summer long, the trees and plants of the woodlands thrive and cover every bit of the mountain until they finally begin to lose their momentum, and in the dark shadows of a forest which has gone through its adolescence and prime, one feels a touch of sadness. In other news, the book will be released this December. You can order it now on Amazon.

Here's the beginning of the excerpt:

AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT, I happen to be passing through Tokyo during one of my friend Ito Akira’s very infrequent art exhibitions. On the blue walls in the low and quiet lighting of the small gallery hang Ito’s many paintings illustrating the life of a Japanese man of letters living in the mountains, and the forest plants and creatures in the circle of life around him there. On several tables are copies of his richly colored children’s books, a single edition book of watercolor paintings of wildfl owers from Shikoku, and his small, hand-bound volume explaining how theoretical astrophysics and yoga practice (as well as classical Chinese philosophy) can, together, explain the working of all energy in the universe, from the quantum level to the big bang. But of all the quite different works at the exhibition, the most moving for me is the smallest: a hand-sewn volume that fi ts into a box about the size of two packs of cards. The book, a loving documentation of traditional Nepali papermaking processes, dis plays Ito’s affection for the ways of life of traditional rural peoples. “I made this,” he says to me, in his halting, gentle voice, “as a way to try to support their way of life at the time that industrially produced paper was coming into Nepal from factories in other parts of the world. I had been doing research on handcrafts in the Himalayas in the 1970s, and I devised this project as a way to introduce Nepali methods to Japanese craftspeople, artists, and collectors.” By gathering funds from “sub scribers” in Japan, Ito hired Nepali artisans to make the paper, carve the woodblocks, produce the prints page by page, and sew the pages together to produce a boxed edition of one hundred and eight copies. The paper itself is baby soft, and so pleasing to the touch that I feel myself relaxing just holding it in my hands. In the gentle images on each page, I fi nd women walking mountain pathways with straw baskets on their backs, while the trees, the river, the yaks, the clouds, and even the rocks of the mountain themselves vibrate with Ito’s energetic line. 

You can read the rest of it here

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