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.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Year Since the Death of Gufu Watanabe

This has been hard to write, so I am finally able to tell you all that Gufu is gone.  He was a fine human being and he deeply affected my life.  I will post some memories over the next few months.  My partner Cynthia Kingsbury just offered this one to me as we looked at photos sent to us from Japan of his "o-wakere-kai" : a gathering of people to (honor) the separation.  "Farewell gathering might be a less literal translation.

Cynthia said, "I remember sitting upstairs with him and his sculpture of Jonah and the Whale.  He was explaining it to us."  Andy: "Do you remember what he said?" Cynthia: "Not exactly, but it was weird."   We both laughed.  Gufu's love for the odd was tremendous.

Black clay sculpture of Jonah and the whale.  

Both the top and the little statuette of Jonah are removable.

Gufu passed away last year around April 15 of lymphatic cancer.  I had known of it for several years before he passed, and was able to visit him in October of 2013.  He was still gardening, and I brought home some seeds.  This spring I am launching a large garden, and in it I will plant some odd, strange and peculiar plants, in memory of Gufu.  

Cynthia also said, "I loved being in the room with you Andy when you were interviewing him.  You brought out so much of what he thought."

Atsuko, his wife, said to me after he died, "You were a rikaishi for him." I asked her what that meant.  She said, "You were one of the few people who really understood him."  

If you would like, please read the chapter about him, Chapter 8, in the next few weeks.  Even better if you want to read parts aloud to a friend.  

Those of you who got to meet him, please send me any memories, and I will put them on this blog.  If you did not meet him, but were moved by anything in the chapter, feel free to email me with those at andy@theopening.org.

And then, be sure to live your own "different kind of luxury" and pass it along to the next generation.  

More soon.  


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