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.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"When I am by myself in the rice fields, I am simply glad..."

There's been a new review of the book by K. McDonald.  The full review is here, but just to give you a taste, I've excerpted a few pieces:

As serendipity would have it, I just finished reading "A Different Kind of Luxury: Japanese Lessons in Simple Living and Inner Abundance" (2010) by Andy Couturier. ... It is a richly beautiful book that would appeal to anyone who might want to slow down, have time to know who they are and why they are here, work with their hands, grow their own food, and live simply.
photo source: flickr TANAKA juuyoh
This book is largely philosophical without ignoring agriculture, since most were self-sufficient in growing their own food.... These people chose a value-system different from the prevailing one of their modern consumerist Japanese culture, and it just so happens that they were also anti-nuclear activists. They took part in educating the public about the nuclear issues. One was successful at preventing a waste facility to be built nearby. Since the recent 9.0 earthquake and nuclear disintegration, it looks as if their nuclear concerns were prescient. Practicing what they preached, these individuals chose lifestyles that utilized little energy. One had a total of three light bulbs. Some had no refrigerators.

[Andy again] The reviewer obviously read the book carefully, and pulls out a number of quotes, some of my favorites among them.  Here's one:
Yet when I'm by myself, out in the rice fields, working with the plants, I am simply glad. I understand that I myself am living, that I am in possession of a living spirit. In the rice paddy with the plants you just naturally develop a feeling of compassion, of sympathy, of love.  -Koichi Yamashita

[Back to the review:]  The ways of old-Japan are rich, wise, and full of lessons for us, including in the areas of art, farming, and permaculture. Best wishes to each of these individuals and their families now as they persevere, as their people have always persevered.

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