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The Abundance of Less: Lessons in Simple Living from Rural Japan Paperback – August 1, 2017
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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“We are in an overheated world—physically and spiritually. It is extremely powerful to read of people who have managed to escape that world, not by traveling to outer space but by heading toward reality. This is subversive in the best possible way.”
—Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy
“Reading this magic book is like drinking from a fresh wellspring deep in the mountains: it slowly returns one to sanity. In an era when the allure of ten thousand digital screens eclipses the inner radiance of a stone lying among the reeds, how clarifying to encounter the eloquence and humility of these well-lived lives.”
—David Abram, author of The Spell of the Sensuous
“Couturier catches everything that is essential and beautiful in Japan with a clarity, sincerity, and openness that move me to the core. It’s been years since such a fresh and liberating voice has emerged to remind us of the true heart of a country that so many of us fail to see.”
—Pico Iyer, author of The Lady and the Monk
“Andy Couturier has written some very articulate pieces on the counterculture in Japan.”
—Gary Snyder, Pulitzer Prize–winning poet
“In this world where so many of us are rushing around, stressed and pressed for time, The Abundance of Less is a welcome reminder that there are other possibilities. Andy Couturier takes us along as he visits ten people who have created lives in the slow lane—lives that are rich in creativity, environmentally sustainable, and deeply meaningful.”
—Ellen Bass, chancellor, Academy of American Poets and winner of the Lambda Literary Award
“While many desperately search for new ‘economic models’ to deflect the coming global collapse, some people just take to the hills and start living beautiful lives. The Abundance of Less is an exquisite, soulful report on ten people in Japan who stopped worrying about changing the world with technology, innovation and economic enterprise, and chose nature, simplicity, time and cooperation as their survival tools. This book is filled with inspiring lessons for these very difficult times.”
—Jerry Mander, author of In the Absence of the Sacred and Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television
“I study The Abundance of Less because it’s so much the way I intend to live. It’s gratifying that Andy Couturier has drawn us such a clear picture of how to live in a spare and elegant way. He has done so through his encounters with people who know how to throw away the unnecessary, and not replace it with more junk.”
—Jonathan Richman, musician, Stonemason
“Employing stories rather than statistics to illuminate the rewards of a life that embraces ‘the abundance of less,’ Andy Couturier writes with empathy and insight about Japanese people who integrate traditional elements of self-reliance into their daily lives. He also tells of the effect they have had on his own way of life in the U.S., and argues that consciously choosing not to take everything we could take, best preserves our world for the next generation.
—Ted Orland, author of Art and Fear
"Inspiring. As our leaders hurl us toward ruin, this timely antidote brims with wisdom, purpose, joy, and resistance.”
—Mark Sundeen, author of The Unsettlers and The Man Who Quit Money
"[The Abundance of Less] will compel readers to consider how they might live more simply and increase their civic engagement."
—Tricycle: The Buddhist Review
About the Author
Andy Couturier spent four years studying sustainable living in rural Japan. There, he worked with local environmentalists, wrote for The Japan Times, and studied how Japanese aesthetics can help us develop new forms of writing. Couturier has also hitchhiked across the Sahara desert, been a researcher for Greenpeace, built his own house with hand tools, and taught intuitive writing for more than two decades. He is a student of many different Asian philosophical systems and is fluent in Japanese.
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The book is very tastefully presented with lots of b/w photos of the people and their artwork and crafts.
Andy's relationship with those he profiles reminded me a little of Carlos Cantaneda's relationship with Don Juan. He is trying to learn about and understand a different culture and a different way of being and living from what he is accustomed to.
Actually, I met Andy about 30 years ago in Japan when we were visiting mutual friends, a couple profiled in the book, who lived in an old farmhouse deep in the mountains of Shikoku. I have to say that Andy is lucky to have hung out with all the people in his book, and we are lucky to be able to read about them!
live off the mountainside land where they practice sustainable living. They and their neighbors care for each other and the larger community,
all sharing the goal of living minimally and making art and music primary factors of joy in their lives.
The author describes the landscapes and people in this book which such beautifully crafted language—you almost feel you’re there. Everything is slow and appreciative. The glimpses into the lives of these ten Japanese men and women living in the countryside are truly a gift of their simple wisdoms. They spend a great deal of time growing and tending their rice fields and gardens, gathering wood and cooking with it. Firing their kilns with it. They take the time and by doing so have more of it to share. An amazing feat of living more with less. A wonderful book.