My favourite Japanese thinker is self-confessed lazy farmer, Masanobo Fukuoka, author of The One Straw Revolution – a book which shaped Permaculture thinking. In 1937, during a bout of illness, Fukuoka, a plant pathologist, had a mystical experience in which he envisioned a new type of agriculture. After he recovered Fukuoka quit his city job and went back to his home village to make his vision real. He didn’t plough his rice fields, he didn’t prune his mandarin trees, he didn’t use chemicals or artificial fertilisers yet his farm still yielded as much or more than his neighbours. He called himself a lazy farmer but his approach was more like an Aikido master; knowing when to apply minimal effort and disruption at the right time for the maximum effect. This sort of thinking is repeated again and again through Japanese culture – in a haiku, the design of a traditional house or in a beautifully put together bento box. Gochisosama deshita” (gratitude to the cook and the ingredients).

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