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, May 21, 2012

A fond lament for a much-loved way of life...

Watercolor illustration, cover
The Wildflowers of the Awa Mountains
by Akira Ito

In a single-copy handmade book written and illustrated by Akira Ito, on the last page, he penned a few paragraphs remembering his journey which was just concluding.  The book, with it's wonderful illustrations of the wildflowers of Shikoku, was made as a gift for Atsuko Watanabe's mother Michi.  (Atsuko is profiled in Chapter 3 and Ito is profiled in chapter 6).

I did not get to include this passage in the final book due to space considerations, but I would like to offer it to you here, with the wonderful watercolor illustrations by Ito-san.

In this passage, Ito is looking out across the harbor as the ferry pulls away from the port, leaving the island of Shikoku (the smallest and least-developed of the four main islands of Japan).  On this ferry ride, Ito remembers the ways of life still present in the mountains of Shikoku as he returns to the much more industrialized main island of Honshu.  It is a journey I myself have made a number of times, and his sentiments here match mine in many ways.

Remembrance of the steep mountains
(the Japanese text here is the one translated below)
Leaving Shikoku
By Akira Ito
an excerpt of his writings
from The Wildflowers of the 
Awa Mountains and Valleys

Gazing out at the blue-green waves of mountains in the far distance from the deck of a ferry boat that takes me back home, I'm feeling a twinge of sadness and a fond nostalgia.   It's the day of my departure from Shikoku after my short but thoroughly enjoyable excursion.  

I'm thinking now of all that I saw there: clean and clear streams, abundant plants and trees, the communities of all the fish and insects, diligent people working in their neatly-tilled fields, the mountain forest dwellings with their fine old furnishings, and the energetic labor of preparing tea.  In the villages and towns of the steep mountains of Shikoku, there still remains such pure nature, and you may find there people still living with their modest ways.  These things are almost completely lost from Honshu Island.
The boat is now nearing the Wakayama city port, and as the black and murky sea water and the bristle of the innumerable huge factories come to my eyes, I feel the waste and devastation of  Honshu sharply.  I treasure the thought of the pristine beauty of Shikoku's  mountains and rivers. 

I pray fervently with all of my being that this good Earth, clear and clean, will be preserved forevermore. 


  1. I love Shikoku. It's all so true.

  2. i read a different kind of luxury first while traveling in june/july and am now revisiting it. this post really helps me "see" mr. ito's work, i even get a sense of the paper (vital for me). thank you, again. for this lovely book, for your dedication to it, and for the honesty in writing about these people. these folks are like some of the people that live near me.