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.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Boy’s Life: Making Something by Hand

The people I profiled in A Different Kind of Luxury live a good life.  And the choices of how they live of course influence the texture of the lives of their kids.

In Chapter 4 on Kogan Murata, I write,
Kohei Murata with Saw and piece of bamboo
 One of the reasons Murata is so vital—although unhurried in every single way—is, I think, that he has always been in such direct contact with the physical world.  As a boy he played shortstop (I can still see that in him now—fast reflexes, sinewy muscles, and his ability to pivot on a dime). He spent more than a decade of winters doing ski rescue for the Red Cross, and he has always loved camping, still sleeping outside in a tent many nights with his son, Kohei.

A little later in the chapter, I devote some more consideration to Kohei’s life. 

Watching this child I’m struck by how natural boyhood is, and amazed to see a child in the twenty-first century so connected to the physical world. There’s no computer, no TV, no video games. (I have to remind myself that this is Japan.) He plays outside, and makes toys out of bamboo (he nailed me with his bamboo-plunger squirt gun when I arrived). He goes fishing all summer long, and tells me about different kinds of fish. It seems like the way things should be.

So when my partner and I visited Murata and his family in May of this year, after the book came out, we got to see Kohei in the process of making a bamboo sling shot by himself.  He wasn’t prompted to by his parents, and it wasn’t an assignment from school, he just decided he wanted to make one.  He saw it in a book of great drawings of toys made by kids one hundred years ago in Japan, and working just from the images, made one for himself.  Naturally.

Here he is:

"Here's the one I'm going to make."


Almost Done

Watch Out!

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