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.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

They are only ostentatious about how they spend their time

A review by Kyle Hislip of Cranford New Jersey:
Painting by Jinko Kaneko 
Contact Jinko
 to Purchase Paintings
Here: bontenya-uni@ezweb.ne.jp
The word "luxury" might conjure up Robin Leach yammering on "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" at first blush, but the folks profiled in " A Different Kind of Luxury" are only ostentatious about one commodity: how they spend their time.

You might think this could be a sentimental tale of happy hillbillies in the hollers of Japan. It's anything but. It explores the notion of "what is most important in life" and arrives at a variety of answers, told through 11 biographies.

Author Andy Couturier explains that "the pressures . . .of money or social dissaproval are much greater in Japan than in the US" as an encouragement to consider taking some steps away from the rat race. It's a beautifully told work that I couldn't put down.

Among the non-conformists are San Oizumi, an anarchist and anti-nuclear protestor. Oizumi uses unconventional ways to raise awareness of the dangers of nuclear power such as making a cake from the flour of grain harvested around a nuclear waste site. There's some wisdom to taking on our bottomless demand for energy at all costs, especially in light of the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Spiritual seekers feature Atsuko Watanabe, with my one of my favorite lines of the book " . . .we are evolving, and also at the same time God is evolving, along with us."

What I enjoyed the most was the subtle subversion of people daring to step off the treadmill of capitalism, trying their hearts at craftsmanship, exploring spiritualism, sustainable farming, painting, and poetry... just daring to take the time to think and be in this world. Now that's a luxury!

I find myself going back and underlining the nuggets of wisdom in this book. I loved it!

Kyle's review was on the Amazon website.  A note from Andy:  I hate to be blunt, but... have you purchased the book yet?  Some of my friends in publishing claim that blogs help the book sell, and while I'm enjoying posting, I do feel that the real heart of what the people in the book have to show us is in the book.   I wonder if perhaps people will just read the blog (you know, for free) and feel like "I got it." Take the opportunity to prove my friends right and me wrong.  The link to buy is to the right here

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