To help transition Japan to a peace promoting post-carbon country while enjoying every step of the process.
僕のビジョンは、祖国日本で、平和文化を育みポストカーボン(Post-Carbon) 社会を促進してゆく事です。

Friday, May 14, 2010

Translating Natural Farming (Book 1 Prologue)

去年の夏、自然農を育んでいる川口さんから頂いた本です。彼は最高です。この本を選んだ理由は、日本中にいる自然農を実践者達のお話ときれいな写真が載っていて、アメリカでも自然農の種を植えるのにちょうど良いと思ったからです。簡単に翻訳をしてます。僕が自然農テーマで始めて読んだ本は、福岡正信さんの"The Natural Way of Farming: The Theory and Practice of Green Philosophy"です。そして、この本が第二番目。今度本屋さんで見てみてください。きれいな本です。

There are 2 natural farming books I brought from Japan. One of them is the book to the left titled, "People who live natural farming" that a photo journalist published. This was full of pictures and I was looking at it when I went to Kawaguchi's house. I only had a 5000yen bill and he told me "just take it", and gifted me this book after spending half a day talking to me. He is someone I definitely hope to learn more from, very grounded, humble, and light-hearted.

This book basically holds the stories of various people who were inspired by Kawaguchi and are practicing natural farming all over Japan. Each story is accompanied by a picture of their gardens, full of weeds and garden plants or rice. Beautiful!

I'm hoping to contact the author soon for some of the pictures, but for now I will informally share some of my translations. I hope this will help people explore post-Fukuoka natural farming. As an aside, from what I understand Fukuoka was not the only person practicing and promoting natural farming, nor was he the first. But he did have a huge influence on many farmers in Japan and the world, including Kawaguchi. So, I think of our present time as the post-Fukuoka natural farming era....something like that.

Here is the Prologue (first draft of translation):

"Near the roots of the rice there are living insects. Weeds are growing. There are small creatures living in the nakigara layer. Microorganisms are flourishing. This is also where humans live. We are able to live only where other life thrives."

The "natural farming" Kawaguchi Yoshikazu practices in Nara province Sakurai city, is a farming method where you plant what is appropriate for that environment, and you intervene only when necessary in the cultivation of your crop. Recently, there have been an increasing number of people from Hakkaido to Okinawa Japan who practice Kawaguchi's method of rice and vegetable farming. His guidelines are, "no till, no use of fertilizers or pesticides, and not to treat weeds or bugs as your enemy." Just like a tree in the forest naturally grows tall, and the way edible forest plants sprout every year, rice and vegetables are grown in line with the natural order.

Nature will flourish in abundance if people do not excessively interfere. By cutting the weeds above the ground and leaving the roots in tact, then laying the tops on the ground, the soil is enriched as the weeds compost and become accessible nutrients. Wild plants will grow anywhere if the conditions are right. I am impressed by the life force of a weed growing out of a crack in the concrete of the city. If you consider vegetables to be a variety of weeds, as long as the conditions are right, it will grow. On the other hand, even wild plants will not grow on land with bad conditions.

The first time I heard of Kawaguchi was in a documentary film "Natural farming -The World of Kawaguchi Yoshikazu - Records of 1995." (Gendai Group productions) Depending on the listener, Kawaguchi's words may sound religious, and his appearance resembles that of a spiritual leader or philosopher.

Eventually, I was able to meet Kawaguchi at a farm study group at the "School of Kenji" in Tokyo. Unlike the image in books and in films, he seemed like an ordinary old farmer in any neighborhood, making jokes here and there to get everyone to laugh.

Of course, when Kawaguchi began natural farming in his neighborhood, the farmers around him complained. Weeds would spread seeds into their farms and there would be major outbreaks of pests, so he needs to weed. That was their attitude. Kawaguchi would not argue back and in his mild rural Nara accent respond, "I apologize. Let me think about that." But as time passes, it becomes apparent that even if there are weeds growing in his rice paddies and gardens, it does not adversely affect the surrounding gardens.

When I heard this story, I knew this man was the real deal. It is difficult for people to accept different perspectives. If we argue, we may hurt the other person. Without dismissing these farmers, Kawaguchi demonstrates through his actions. Kawaguchi's character most likely has a lot to do with the increase in people practicing natural farming all over Japan."

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