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Kuni: A Japanese Vision and Practice for Urban-Rural Reconnection

por Tsuyoshi Sekihara

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"Reading Kuni makes me want to dive into rural Japan...this book reminds me that leaders emerge when and where you least expect it." - ALICE WATERS, founder of Chez Panisse restaurant, activist, and author A guide to reviving and revitalizing forgotten places and communities through the Japanese principles of kuni Kuni offers a unique model for the revitalization of rural and deindustrialized lands and communities--and shares lessons in citizen-led regeneration for all of us, regardless of where we live. "Kuni" is both a reimagining of the Japanese word for nation and an approach to reviving communities. It shows what happens when dedicated people band together and invest their hearts, minds, and souls back into a community, modeling a new way of living that actually works. A kuni can be created anywhere--even a hamlet on the verge of extinction--and embodies 7 key principles- Everyone is equal in a kuniKuni is equipped with a Regional Management Organization--a democratic organization that takes care of small public servicesKuni is a link between residents and repeat visitorsLife in a kuni is circular--consumption and production are in balanceKuni embraces the whole personKuni can be a place for young people who seek interconnectednessThe time for kuni is now Kuni offers a compelling vision of regenerative relationships that can take root in the United States--and anywhere. With spare and beautiful prose and useful principles for reviving rural places, this book addresses our longing for a hopeful revolution of everyday life.… (mais)
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This book is co-written by Sekihara (Japanese) and McCarthy (American).

Kuni is a Japanese word that traditionally means "nation," but can also mean "community." Sekihara has claimed it to describe the urban-rural model he has been pioneer in Japan.

I've long been mulling over the structure of civilization. One of the basic patterns involves the relationships between urban and rural. These distribution patterns often follow other factors, such as watersheds (cities are often found where rivers converge, or where a river meets the ocean). You can't understand cities without understanding their rural surroundings, and vice versa. For example, the notable cuisine of a city is informed by the food systems that surrounding it (agriculture, fisheries, etc.).

As a child, I thought there were rural people and urban people. As I've grown, I've learned that time spent in urban and rural places lives on a continuum. Some people might be 90% rural, 10% urban, others 50:50, and still others 10:90. For example, people living in rural places might go to the city to go to a hospital, to catch a plane, or to go to the opera. People living in urban areas might go to the countryside for vacation, for recreation, or for a retreat.

Sekihara looks at these patterns in the Japanese context. Demographically, Japan is one of the most urban and oldest countries. This means that despite their national pride for rural culture, their villages are in collapse. Sekihara has been developing ways to build meaningful and functional relationships between villages and cities.

One example offered in the book involves traditional rice production. The village only sells rice to one hundred urban purchasers. The purchasers are paying substantially above "market" price, so as to subsidize a traditional way of life. But with this purchase, they gain the insurance the village offers in the face of disaster; if there is an earthquake, etc. the village will give them room and board until it is safe for them to go home again. I find this a fascinating way to offer a bundled product that is relevant in a time of war and climate chaos.

If I have one criticism of the book, it is that it is too short! I would love to hear more stories both from Sekihara and McCarthy, and would be excited to explore how these concepts might be developed in the US context. ( )
  willszal | Mar 18, 2024 |
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"Reading Kuni makes me want to dive into rural Japan...this book reminds me that leaders emerge when and where you least expect it." - ALICE WATERS, founder of Chez Panisse restaurant, activist, and author A guide to reviving and revitalizing forgotten places and communities through the Japanese principles of kuni Kuni offers a unique model for the revitalization of rural and deindustrialized lands and communities--and shares lessons in citizen-led regeneration for all of us, regardless of where we live. "Kuni" is both a reimagining of the Japanese word for nation and an approach to reviving communities. It shows what happens when dedicated people band together and invest their hearts, minds, and souls back into a community, modeling a new way of living that actually works. A kuni can be created anywhere--even a hamlet on the verge of extinction--and embodies 7 key principles- Everyone is equal in a kuniKuni is equipped with a Regional Management Organization--a democratic organization that takes care of small public servicesKuni is a link between residents and repeat visitorsLife in a kuni is circular--consumption and production are in balanceKuni embraces the whole personKuni can be a place for young people who seek interconnectednessThe time for kuni is now Kuni offers a compelling vision of regenerative relationships that can take root in the United States--and anywhere. With spare and beautiful prose and useful principles for reviving rural places, this book addresses our longing for a hopeful revolution of everyday life.

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