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, February 8, 2012

"I will keep this book the rest of my life"

I get letters and emails every month from readers all over the world.  I just got a lovely handwritten note from Switzerland yesterday.  I feel, strangely, a bit shy getting them.  Perhaps those of you who have lived in Japan will understand my feeling.  To be praised for this book is both pleasing and gratifying, personally, but also kind of embarrassing.  "Who, me?"  
Your author

I mean, I do know how many years of my life I put into this book, and I wrote it with all my soul, revising and revising and polishing endlessly.  And, sure, I'm proud of it.  But resisting the temptations of pride and accolades is one of the themes of the book.  I must be cautious.  But on the other hand, I also am so full of admiration of the people in the book, and it is their lives that makes it a meaningful and powerful piece of work.  So it is not "me" (whatever that is!) that wrote it, but just the spirit of the people I wrote about, plus all that I have received from the other people in my life, my collaborators and teachers, that I was able to manifest.  

Also, I live a life that has allowed me the time to write the book, and that is simply privilege.  I remain aware of that.  Still, if I've used my life in such a way as to have written a book that fosters a letter such as the one below, than I feel like I have spent my days well. 
Murata walking down the road
with his son Kohei
 From Bonnie Young,

I, too, am a librarian, and I agree that A Different Kind of Luxury is one of my very favorite books. I will keep this book the rest of my life, and will enjoy it again and again.
For me, "A Different Kind of Luxury" has a life-changing influence. I decided to underline quotes in the book so I can refer to them later. One quote that I am taking to heart is "what I need, I have." I think about that every day. I take "need" to mean not only material things (although definitely that) but also spiritually, mentally and physically. That is my favorite quote in the book, expressed by Kogan Murata. 

Nakamura's Kitchen

My favorite chapter in the book has to be the interview with Osamu Nakamura. I adored the photos of his simple but beautifully elegant home! I also underlined many, many paragraphs in that chapter. Andy, your description about building a fire and making tea (and others) are simply poetic. I read them aloud to my husband in the car while driving (he was trapped).  I enjoyed hearing them again, only this time aloud. 

Nakamura's craftsmanship is admirable, but so is the art and crafts of many of the other personalities in the book. Because of their influence, I have started to buy a few pieces of pottery and I have signed up for a pottery class!

The book itself is beautiful. I enjoyed the color photographs in the front and even the size and shape of the book is lovely. I like how it opens so you can appreciate the beautiful black and white photos and art.

I talk about your book, the ideas (simplicity, slowing down, making do, etc.) to others, and so far my sister and my sister in law each bought a book!
Nakamura's workroom

Thank you, Andy, for the hard work you put into this and for your exquisite writing.

Bonnie Young

PS: When you answered the question "what do you really need? and the answer you gave was " love."  I tell that story to people when I describe the book and I ponder that thought often.  It reminds me to put people first - enjoying time with them, slowing down, cooking for people and expressing love - just like all of the wonderful Japanese folks you interviewed.

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