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By Andy Couturier

Raised within the tumult of Japan’s commercial powerhouse, the 11 women and men profiled during this publication have all made the transition to sustainable, pleasing lives. they're this present day artists, philosophers, and farmers who live deep within the mountains of rural Japan. Their lives can be easy, but they're surrounded through the luxuries of nature, artwork, contemplation, scrumptious nutrients, and an abundance of time. For example:

  • Atsuko Watanabe is an environmentalist and home-schooler who explores Christian mysticism whereas elevating her daughters in an previous farmhouse
  • Akira Ito is an ex–petroleum engineer who has turn into a painter and children’s ebook illustrator and explores the position of chi (life power) within the universe via paintings and music
  • Kogan Murata grows rice and crafts dependent bamboo flutes that he performs for alms within the surrounding villages
  • Jinko Kaneko is a very good artist and upholstery dyer who runs a Himalayan-style curry eating place within the Japan Alps

By featuring the trips of those ordinary—yet exceptional—people, Andy Couturier indicates how we can also go back and forth a significant direction of residing easily, with recognize for our groups and our usual assets. after we go away at the back of the super burdens of salary hard work, debt, pressure, and day-by-day busyness, we develop wealthy in a complete new manner. those eastern are pioneers in a feeling; drawing on conventional japanese religious knowledge, they've got cast a brand new variety of modernity, and of their luck is a lesson for us all: dwell a lifestyles that matters.

Andy Couturier is an essayist, poet, and writing instructor. He lived in Japan for 4 years the place he taught, was once a journalist, and labored on environmental factors. He lives within the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Amemiya studied wax-resist dyeing, or batik, in India. © Koichi Yamashita I protest that whereas I definitely can think many stuff, it won’t do for my readers to have in basic terms the writer’s personal speculations. “Well, effective then,” she says, “just write, ‘When I requested her why she copied out the center Sutra, she simply smiled and acknowledged not anything. this is often jap tradition! ’” Yamashita laughs out loud. in the course of their years in India, Yamashita and Amemiya usually journeyed northward to the Himalayan country of Sikkim, now part of India yet nonetheless conserving its Tibetan Buddhist and Lepcha tribal minority cultures. during this quarter of steep mountains and deeply cloven valleys, they explored hiking trails and traveled to gompas, or Buddhist monasteries, documenting rituals, customs, foodstuff, and garments. This paintings they later released within the cultural guidebook they authored jointly, vacationing the jap Himalayan Foothills. In Amemiya’s writing, I back locate the a part of her that's interested in the sluggish, the light, and the gorgeous: she writes of the mists that cloud the tea plantations round Darjeeling, or the sound of a troublesome rain at the rooftops of an outdated mountain city, or the fairway of the top tree branches spreading opposed to a transparent mountain sky, or perhaps the straightforward excitement of consuming a cup of tea in the course of a crowded bazaar whereas staring at out purposelessly on the humans passing by way of. She has subverted the implicit hurry of the guidebook shape, which turns out to continuously be goading you onward. The booklet lingers relatively on myths of the Lepcha humans, the symbology at the back of the color-drenched Buddhist rituals, and tea harvesting, processing, and brewing. all through, i locate Amemiya’s line drawings, a few on easy methods to wear the neighborhood robes and garments, or of conventional kitchen instruments and the way to exploit them, and diagrams of thatch-roofed hut development. It’s half commute consultant and half loving testimony to this little corner of the area that they occurred upon and need to proportion with others. in a single passage, she muses for the reader approximately lifestyles at a monastery the place many pilgrims are staying: anyplace i glance they're spinning their prayer wheels consistently, asserting mantras whereas strolling, chanting sutras all day lengthy, day in and outing. they don't remain for only one or days as we do, they plant themselves right here for weeks at a time. it kind of feels to me that instead of their religion being only one a part of their lives, their lives are deeply embedded inside their religion. for individuals from the large towns stuck up in operating forever, most likely they envy the lifetime of those pilgrims. or even, however, such commitment to one’s religion, and that basically, is anything humans of this day simply can’t do. those are the issues i feel of, coming to this position. “You Westerners are only just like the Indians! ” Amemiya complains in a noisy voice after I’ve requested her another (to her, unreasonable) query. “You’re consistently asking ‘Why, why, why? ’ I don’t comprehend why i admire the colour blue, I do exactly. You question me why I hate salary exertions.

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