Just Enough: Lessons in Living Green from Traditional Japan

Overview


Just Enough is a book of stories, depictions of vanished ways of life told from the point of view of a contemporary observer. The stories tell how people lived in Japan some two hundred years ago, during the late Edo Period, when traditional technology and culture were at the peak of development and realization, just before the country opened itself to the West and joined the ranks of the industrialized nations. They tell of people overcoming many of the identical problems that confront us today--issues of ...
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Overview


Just Enough is a book of stories, depictions of vanished ways of life told from the point of view of a contemporary observer. The stories tell how people lived in Japan some two hundred years ago, during the late Edo Period, when traditional technology and culture were at the peak of development and realization, just before the country opened itself to the West and joined the ranks of the industrialized nations. They tell of people overcoming many of the identical problems that confront us today--issues of energy, water, materials, food and population--and forging a society that was conservation-minded, waste-free, well-housed, well-fed and economically robust.

From these stories, readers will gain insight into what it is like to live in a sustainable society, not so much in terms of specific technical approaches, but rather, in terms of how larger concerns can guide daily decisions and how social and environmental contexts shape our courses of action. These stories are intended to illustrate the environmentally-related problems that the people in both rural and urban areas faced, the conceptual frameworks in which they viewed these problems, and how they went about finding solutions. Included at the end of each section are a number of lessons in which the author elaborates on what Edo Period life has to offer us in the global battle to reverse environmental degradation. Topics covered include everything from transportation, interconnected systems, and waste reduction to the need for spiritual centers in the home.

Just Enough, more than anything else, is about a mentality that pervaded traditional Japanese society and which can serve as a beacon for our own efforts to achieve sustainability now.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Just Enough is valuable as a mentality, as a framework for acting in the world..." --Worldchanging.com

"Brown's elegant and accessible text with its lucid illustrations make this a wonderful companion for students and professionals in the fields of design, civil engineering, farming, construction, or Japanese history, or any person interested in leaving a more delicate footprint on the planet." --ForeWord Magazin

"Just Enough should be required reading for anyone who wants to help make today's world more sustainable. Read it, please." --Sarah Susanka, Architect and author of The Not So Big House series and The Not So Big Life

"Azby Brown's book, using excellent examples from Edo-period Japan, proves that we have surrounded ourselves with many things that we don't need to live sustainably and happily. This is an important warning for the future, one that should make us all stop and think." --Shigeru Ban, Architect, recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Medal in Architecture, designer of the award-winning Hanover Pavillion for Expo 2000

"Truly an eye-opener. Brown takes us behind the scenes, revealing the complex and ingenious techniques that put Japanese traditional life in harmony with nature." --Alex Kerr, Author, Dogs and Demons, Lost Japan

"Just Enough offers an interesting and engaging perspective on Edo Japan for those who enjoy reading about cultural history, alongside sustainable ideas relevant today." --Green LA Girl

"I read Brown's book with relish, and at the end of it felt that my mindset had shifted, from feeling that I never have enough, to feeling that I undoubtedly have too much." -- Macy Halford, New Yorker Online

"In my mind Azby Brown is the Rick Steves of historic time travel. Where Steves takes you to his 'Europe through the back door', Brown invites us to visit Edo period Japan with him. He addresses his readers -- that's us -- as part of his entourage." --The International Examiner

"Illustrated with his own, engaging sketches, Brown's book tells of the daily life of the farmer living in his thatched-roof farmhouse, the carpenter in his efficient one-room home, the city dweller in a townhouse tenement complex built to encourage sharing and sociability, and the samurai whose pitched-roof home is on an avenue in a leafy, out-of-town district with an uncanny resemblance to the modern suburb. The common bond is a commitment to sustainability underpinned by good and enduring design." --The San Francisco Chronicle

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9784770030740
  • Publisher: Kodansha International
  • Publication date: 2/1/2010
  • Pages: 231
  • Product dimensions: 7.60 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

AZBY BROWN was raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. He studied architecture and sculpture at Yale College, graduating in 1980. In 1985, he received a grant from the Japanese Ministry of Education to do research at the Department of Architecture of the University of Tokyo, where he received a master's degree. He is the author of The Genius of Japanese Carpentry, Small Spaces and The Very Small Home, all published by Kodansha International. He became an associate professor of architectural design at the Kanazawa Institute of Technology in 1995, where he has also accepted a position in the Department of Media Informatics. In 2003, he opened the Future Design Institute in Tokyo, and currently serves as director.

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