Originally published on Slowear Journal on Sep 25th
Japan responds to peak oil and energy issues with the green concept of Transition Towns. There are 24 such communities from the North to the South of the country, all of them founded in the early 2000s.
Fujino – one of the first Transition Towns to be born in Japan – is the closest one to Tokyo (only 50 kilometers away). Around 20 out of 10.000 locals make up the core Transition Group, yet “locals are very open-minded towards transition’s ideas” – states Mr. Hide Enomoto of Transition Fujino.
In fact, it might be that these concepts are not so new to Fujino people. The fundamentals of Transition Network – founded in 2008 by Rob Hopkins in Great Britain – are permaculture and resilience; in other words, it’s all about finding a clever way to adapt ourselves to socio-environmental changes by building integrated communities.
After all, the principles of sharing and community – not to mention that of “reverence” towards nature – are deeply rooted in millenary Japanese culture, from Confucianism to Shintoism. According to permaculture – which is not merely a cultivation method – human communities should mimic the natural ecosystems, efficiently organized as every little part of the system has a specific role and shares its abilities, relying in its turn on the others’ support.
So what does this mean from a practical point of view? In Fujino, people live ordinarily – eating, working, chatting, and having fun. To get around, they use an hybrid (and shared!) car, which takes advantage of slopes and has a minimum fuel stock in case of need.
Wooden houses with hay-insulated roofs lay side-by-side with one another to form a nagaya – literally “a long house” – to foster the sense of community and facilitate communication. As for the diet, most of the people at Fujino’s community eat vegetarian or macrobiotic food, although this is not mandatory: there are also people eating animal products. In fact, this one – like many others in the community – is a free choice.
For preserving freedom of choice and expression is the first step towards feeling naturally free.
• Watch the interview to Mr. Hide Enomoto here •