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Chapter 1: Introduction

Introducing the Study
How should we be farming? This is a question that is increasingly gaining
relevance in todays world, as food and its production is being recognized as one of the key
areas where pressing questions about the environment, what we eat, what our societies
look like and most importantly, how we should live, are converging. Agriculture is
considered by many to be a vestigial profession; a relic of a past age when food had to be
produced by so many hands working the soil. In an increasingly urbanized world, this
image is only reinforced, with many seeing agriculture as necessary only in the sense that it
is an unavoidable step in the steady march towards industrialization. At the same time, we
cannot survive without it. Agriculture is the way in which we produce the food that we eat.
Outside the city, it determines, and has determined, the landscape of human settlements.
And having been the main form of livelihood up until a few generations ago, it has
provided the foundation of many of the cultural practices and identities we assume in the
present day.
This ethnographic study seeks to shed light on alternative farming in
contemporary Japan. The attempt to locate and identify the Japanese alternative farmer in
today's world is an interesting quest, one which blurs all preconceived boundaries and
finds new connections in unexpected places.
In the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata, Krishna the charioteer is asked for advice
by Arjuna, the archer, who is in his time of greatest doubt. The ensuing monologue
between charioteer and archer, God and mortal, is about duty and is known as the
Bhagavad Gita. While advising Arjuna, Krishna assumes vishvarupa, the universal form.
The whole universe is contained within this form, and this form is the universe. In a similar
manner, the implications of agriculture are far reaching and cannot be confined within one

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body. There are many aspects worthy of our attention in this unpretentious vocation that
is agriculture. And as the Bhagavad Gita revolves around the idea of the duty, so too does
the discourse around agriculture.
The first part of this thesis deals with the fundamental question of How should
we farm? Being a human activity that arguably lies at the core and basis of all human
activity, the implications and ramifications of the way we farm are felt across all spheres of
life. With various terms being appropriated and philosophies hijacked, the organic form of
agriculture has slowly merged with its industrial counterpart in the common imagination.
The ethnographic research recorded in this thesis seeks to clearly demarcate the lines
between the two approaches to agriculture (the agrarian and the industrial)by drawing on
the observations of organic farmers on themes like the use of resources, the visibility of
processes, their sources of knowledge, the complexities they deal with, and their
motivation for working. The second part of this thesis deals with a more urgent issue:
Why we need to farm. Farming in Japan, as well as the rural farming communities that
are supported by this occupation are on the wane, making this question more pertinent. In
drawing a clearer picture of the hyakusho, the Japanese smallholder farmer, and the ideal
society they envision, this thesis explores their notions and ideas such as non-exploitation,
sustainability and responsible stewardship. The anti-thesis of the modern consumer, they
also provide a powerful counter-narrative to the dominant market-based paradigm of our
times, embodying instead an exceedingly self-sufficient lifestyle that echoes Japanese
ideals of thrift and contentedness.
I also locate the organic farmers in Japan within a larger framework, drawing
relations to farmers in other nations and seeking commonalities between these groups. The
local provides a glimpse into the global, and global movements play out in the local
context.


3
The Literature Review


The graph above locates the predominant forms of agriculture along axes of scale
and ethic. The third axis, between consumer and producer, shows the role of the people
within the different forms of agriculture. Based on the research of many of the books I
have consulted, the growth of the consumerist culture is synonymous with the shift of
agriculture into the third quadrant, which thus calls for a predominant consumer class,
whilst the first quadrant calls for more producers and involved 'citizens'. Through the
literature review, I will try to explore the various forms of agriculture presented in this
graph. My thesis is that it is not possible to reconcile the agrarian ethic with large-scale
operations, and that more producers are required in order to achieve food sovereignty.
The questions of how, and why, we should farm are pertinent in the case of Japan,
which is increasingly on the brink of an agricultural crisis. The numbers paint a grim
picture. As of 2010, 400,000 hectares of farmland were left fallow, accounting for nearly
10 percent of Japans 4.55 million hectares of farmland. Japan's agricultural sector has

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been steadily declining for decades. Overall farm output in 2008 was about 30% lower
than the all-time high recorded in 1984, and the average age of a farmer is over 65. The
number of farmers and the total amount of arable land have been declining for half a
century(TPP or No, Aging Farm Sector Needs True Reform 2013). In order to combat this
general trend, the government is trying to push for consolidation of farmland, announcing
many deregulatory measures and financial support for large-scale farms. Through its
growth strategy proposed as one of the arrows of Abenomics, the government seeks
to double the income of the farming regions within a span of ten years, and to increasethe
number of farming firms by about 300% to 50 thousand (Otake and Yoshida 2013).
A total of 1,071 companies have launched food businesses since the Agricultural
Land Law was revised in 2009(Nakata 2013), allowing corporations to rent farmland
across the country. Farming firms include Lawson, the countrys second-biggest
convenience store chain, now runs as many as 10 large farms across the country. Another
retail chain, the Aeon group also has plans to run 30 large-scale farms by fiscal 2015(Aeon
Plans 30 Big Farms by FY2015 2013). The Abe administration and ruling bloc are
planning to make such large-scale farms the only recipients of rice subsidies (Rice
Subsidies for Big Players Only? 2013) as a way to improve the efficiency of the
agricultural sector ahead of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement that is
being predicted to decimate Japanese agriculture as it is.
The introduction of corporations is also expected to bring more of the younger
generation into 'agriculture' and repopulate the rural areas of Japan. The use of more
information technology is also being hailed as a way of increasing efficiency while
reducing crop yields. GPS positioning, cloud-based manuals with relevant information
shared across farmers, the collection and analysis of large amount of data and a greater
ability to reach out to customers are being cited as some of the benefits(Info Tech May
Rescue Japans Farms 2013). From this information, it can be gathered that the

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government is pushing for a move into the third quadrant, basing improved production on
the principles of food security. Previous studies by noted Japanese environmentalists
Yukiko Kada and Hiroyuki Torigoe place these kinds of developments under the modern
technicism paradigm, citing their reliance on greater concentration of power and a
discontinuity with past traditions (Kada 2006).
The large-scale and industrial third quadrant has been under the scrutiny of many
writers in the past few years. Michael Pollan and Raj Patel both describe how the industrial
setup of modern agriculture has increased the distance between the producer and the
consumer, obscuring the true costs of cheap food. In The Omnivore's Dilemma, Pollan
examines and compares mainly two food chains: the industrial food chain run according to
'the logic of human industry' and a shorter, more transparent food chain where Pollan either
grew, hunted or gathered all the ingredients by himself. Understanding just how much
effort and time went into the preparation of one meal through the latter food chain leads
Pollan to question just what is being sacrificed in order to provide the convenience that the
former chain offers (Pollan 2007). Paul Roberts in 'The End of Food' (Roberts 2009) argues
that the sacrifices are more than just a poor meal: he likens the growing ignorance of the
consumer regarding food to the handing over of the control of one's life. He also points
out that the right way to produce food has turned into an extraordinarily complex problem
because it lies at the intersection of so many variables, human decisions arguably
misguided by market ideologies.
Social justice is also being sacrificed. Trade in agricultural goods is rarely fair, as
Roberts points out (Roberts 2009:169) and transacted within a skewed global trade
structure, it is often the First World countries that exploit the Third World and developing
countries. Raj Patel employs the imagery of the hourglass (Patel 2008) when describing the
flow of food from many producers, through a handful of multinational corporations, on to
numerous consumers. The small number of corporations in the middle leads to a

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concentration of wealth that deprives both the producer and the consumer of the full value
of their food (Patel 2008:1214). Those who stand to gain the most are also the ones who
have amassed the most power, he argues, pointing out that trade agreements like the TPP
are usually bartered with the heavy involvement of such organizations. Such neoliberal
policies are justified using the rhetoric of 'food security', which purports to aim to feed the
world through the spread of market principles. William Schanbacher, in his book 'The
Politics of Food', (Schanbacher 2010) contrasts this notion of food security with food
sovereignty, a debate that I have mapped out on the graph and which will be explored in
further detail later.
Food sovereignty, a concept that I have placed in the first quadrant, is one of the
ways in which many contemporary commentators in agriculture are pinning their hopes on
for a more just and healthy food system. The examples of Cuba, forced to adopt a nation-
wide movement of organic agriculture in the face of declining Soviet power leading to a
drying up of agriculture-related imports, and La Via Campesina, a movement to empower
peasants around the world, have been raised as models that need to be emulated (Wiebe,
Desmarais, and Wittman 2010). Philip Ackerman-Leist, an expert on sustainable food
systems, also suggests Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) as a viable alternative.
(I)deas about food sovereignty force us to rethink our relationships with food, agriculture
and environment. But perhaps the most revolutionary aspect of food sovereignty is that it
forces us to rethink our relationships with one another (Wiebe et al. 2010:4). The concepts
which are placed within the first quadrant fit in with the concept of life environmentalism
as proposed by Torigoe and Kada: the idea that there exists neither discontinuity nor
separation between nature and living (Kada 2006). At the same time, it is acknowledged
that this task will be increasingly impossible in the context of the consumerist culture that
is increasingly spreading its effects to all corners of the globe. However, many hyakusho

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are accomplishing just this, and my research hopes to focus on these people: the people
who persist with small-scale agriculture along principles of an agrarian ethic.
The second quadrant is more problematic. Purporting to be run on the principles
of organic farming, these farms appropriate the value that is attached to the notions that
organic embodies and use it to raise a profit. Vandana Shiva, seen by many as the
spokesperson for an alternative food system, calls the farms which lie within the second
quadrant pseudo-organics(Shiva 2008:125). Pollan also questions the viability of these
big organics(Pollan 2007:158184). At the same time, Paul Roberts believes that any
viable long-term solution will lie somewhere in this second quadrant, with mid-sized farms
producing the bulk of food in an acceptable manner (Roberts 2009:275284). However, I
disagree, and as I hope my research shows, ideas of agrarianism are irrevocably linked to
the small-scale. The dangers of organic being appropriated are very real. The book
'Agrarian Dreams' by Julie Guthman highlights the poor working conditions for laborers
on so-called organic farms in California, discussing the many human rights abuse that are
occurring on the very farms that promote their products by exploiting the myths that have
come to be associated with the word 'organic' (Guthman 2004). 'Labor and the Locavore'
(Gray 2014) also calls for a comprehensive food ethic that encompasses not only the final
product (the food) but also the people involved in its production. Labor rights become a
key point of discontent with the labor-intensive organic sector. In a similar manner, the
JAS standards adopted in Japan do not specify that products need be produced within
Japan. It allows for certification of products grown abroad, something that many organic
farmers believe is against the spirit of organic agriculture.
Most of this thesis moves back and forth between the first and the third quadrants,
and tries to argue for a society that aims to shift from the latter to the former. This thesis
aims to fill the gap created by the dearth of literature written from the viewpoint of
alternative farmers in Japan. Many of the recent debates on agriculture have focused on

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food and how the consumer relates to it, while books by Japanese farmers often fail to
locate their experiences within larger movements like food sovereignty. This leads to a
situation where movements for food sovereignty and calls for its spread seem to be
concentrated around the Global South. It is important for hyakusho to participate in the
global movement for food sovereignty and bring their values into the global debate
occurring at the nexus of energy, food and society and thus involve First World actors in
the struggle for regaining control over our food chain. Finally, our understanding of human
psychology has also changed drastically in the last decade. Perhaps the most telling change
has been the exposure of the myth of the economically rational Homo oeconomicus.
Understanding the hyakusho requires a more nuanced understanding of what motivates us
humans, and this understanding may perhaps hold the key to the quest to creating a more
sustainable society.

Field-work
Yasato is a town in Ibaraki prefecture of Japan. Located about 100 kilometers
north-east of Tokyo, it is suitably located: not too far but not too close to the largest city in
Japan. The area is surrounded on three sides by low mountain ranges, part of the Yamizo
Mountains. These are the first mountains that one encounters as one heads north-east from
the Kanto plain, and the landscape is representative of the quintessential Japanese rural
landscape (satoyama). The low hills surround the Yasato settlement to form a basin
(bonchi) which creates the updrafts that make Yasato a mecca for para-gliders. Many of
the farmers noted that the scenery in this region reminded them of their childhoods spent in
the rural areas (inaka) influencing their decision to settle here. Yasato was merged with the
closest city, Ishioka, in 2005 as part of an ongoing trend of enlargement of administration
areas in order to reduce the strain on local government bodies. Local farmland is
concentrated in the lower plains, but is available in smaller plots on the slopes of the hills.

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Owing to the landscape of Yasato, agriculture could only be small-scale, with plots of land
including the terraced fields so evocative of Japan. This constraint meant that the large-
scale agriculture that came to occupy most of the open plains around Yasato could not
make its entry into this area.
The data kept by the Ishioka municipal government suggests that around 27% of
the farmers in the area are practicing subsistence farming (jikyujisoku teki nougyou), with
the average area of the farms being 18.4a. During one interview, one farmer reckoned that
there were around 70 organic farmers in Yasato; of these, there only 10 farmers who were
originally in Yasato and decided to switch over; the rest of the farmers were first
generation farmers (Ujita). I interviewed 8 farming families in this region, many of whom
were first generation farmers. These include the Iida () family (2 children), the
Sugiyama() family (2 children), the Shibata() family (3 children), the Kimatas(
) (married), Kimura() and Kurata(). The Ujitas() (2 children) were
one of the first settlers, starting farming around the year 1985. They were followed by the
Sugiyama family who settled in Yasato in 1997.
Jiro Kakei (), one of my main informants, also farms in this area. Kakei
used to be a professor of philosophy at Kyoto University, but decided to start farming in
order to put theory into practice. He has been farming for over three decades in this region
along with his partner. On his Rokuon Farm (Rokuon being the place where the Buddha
gave his first sermon after enlightenment to an audience of deer), Kakei uses minimal
machinery as he tries to live according to the principles of Mahatma Gandhi.
Takao Furuno is one of the most renowned organic farmers in Japan. He is
credited with the spread of duck-integrated farming (aigamo nouhou) across the world, and
particularly to Korea. He is based in Keisen town of Fukuoka prefecture, in the southern
island of Kyushu and runs a farm with his wife and two of his sons known as the Aigamo
Kazoku Noujou (The Aigamo Family Farm). He has achieved world-wide acclaim for the

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possibilities that his agricultural method promises. The subject of various documentaries
produced both internationally and domestically, he has also been raised as an example of
small-scale agriculture in the book, The End of Food He has also started a group to share
experiences of farming with ducks (Zenkoku Aigamo Inasaku Kai) with hopes of creating a
common platform where farmers from across the world are able to share information about
better farming practices (Furuno and Sato 2012:13).
Yuuki Uehara is a fruit cultivator in Ehime Prefecture in Shikoku. Yuuki, his wife
Wakana and three children live together in a 130 year-old house that they reformed with
the help of a friend. After having lived in India (West Bengal) for several years, they came
back to Japan to take part in community building. Uehara grows citrus fruits and is also
experimenting with other different fruits on his farm Nanchiya which he has started in
2011 after an apprenticeship with a local cultivator.
Koutaro Sakamoto is a pig farmer living in Mihara City of Hiroshima with his
wife and three children on their farm called Sakuranoyama Noujou (Cherry Blossom Farm)
He collects feed from the wastes of the local community, turning what would be trash into
a useful resource. He is also highly interested in achieving energy self-sufficiency, and his
widely read blog chronicles his various undertakings regarding appropriate technology.
Through my various conversations with these farmers, I tried to understand what
motivates them to farm in the manner they do and the things that they value. Through this
exercise, I hope to have been able to look at society from their viewpoint and highlight the
problems that they feel are expressed at present within our society and the solutions that
they propose.

Anthropology
Any work in anthropology is accompanied by a reflection of what anthropology is
or should be. As a student of this discipline, it is often the case that one has no definitive

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answer to just what it is that one does, or what the discipline of anthropology is about. This
endless soul-searching (by the discipline itself) while being a source of frustration at times,
gives some degree of freedom to the scholar eager to research something which captures
his interest. Through empirical observations, it strives to accurately reflect the increasingly
complex world which we inhabit, where knowledges are ever-shifting and the world of
yesterday is unrecognizable to the world of tomorrow. Anthropologist Ted Lewellen notes
that the easy categories of the past seem oddly out of place in a world that is fragmented
and in which space and time have imploded(Lewellen 2002:3). Indeed, no longer are the
boundaries geographical, or even chronological. Boundaries are ever-shifting and driven
out of traditional contexts by the winds of change. Anthropology however, provides the
tools necessary to acknowledge the changing structure of these categories and make sense
of them across cultures for the reshaping of categories (ours and other peoplesthink of
taboo) so that they can reach beyond contexts in which they originally arose and took their
meaning so as to locate affinities and mark differences is a great part of what translation
comes to in anthropology(Geertz 1983:12).
Clifford Geertz, in his interesting analysis of the discipline, accurately points out
what the role of anthropology might be, and what it has to contribute to the world. It
seems likely that whatever use ethnographic texts will have in the future, if in fact they
actually have any, it will involve enabling conversation across societal linesof ethnicity,
religion , class, gender, language, racethat have grown progressively more nuanced,
more immediate, and more irregular. The next necessary thingis to enlarge the
possibility of intelligible discourse between people quite different from one another in
interest, outlook, wealth, and power, and yet contained in a world where, tumbled as they
are into endless connection, it is increasingly difficult to get out of each others way
(Geertz 1988:147). More specifically, it will allow for a way to initiate a dialogue between
the predominant consumerist society and the hyakusho.

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More importantly, anthropology teaches us humility, the ability to entertain the
thought that we might be wrong. 'To see ourselves as others see us can be eye-opening. To
see others as sharing a nature with ourselves is the merest decency. But it is from the far
more difficult achievement of seeing ourselves amongst others, as a local example of
the forms human life has locally taken, a case amongst cases, a world among worlds that
the true value of anthropology is realized (Geertz 1988:16). Take, for instance, Marshall
Sahlin's 'Stone Age Economics' (1972). This book seeks to explain the concept of affluence
that is very different from the meaning that it was being used in modern society, making it
relevant to this thesis which seeks to understand what motivates the hyakusho:
For there are two possible courses to affluence. Wants may be
easily satisfied by producing much or desiring little. The familiar
conception, the Galbraithean way, makes assumptions peculiarly
appropriate to market economies: that mans wants are great, not to
say infinite, whereas his means are limited, although improvable:
thus, the gap between means and ends can be narrowed by industrial
productivity, at least to the point that urgent goods become
plentiful. But there is also a Zen road to affluence, departing from
premises somewhat different from our own: that human material
wants are finite and few, and technical means unchanging but on the
whole adequate. Adopting the Zen strategy, a people can enjoy
unparalleled material plentywith a low standard of living
(Sahlins 1972:2)
Finally, it must be noted that many anthropologists feel that this discipline should
be activist in nature. No more can anthropology afford to be a mere observer, a bystander.
Instead, it must observe what problems a society might have and then seek solutions for it.
'Anthropology must be ready to contest unjust systems of domination, along the way

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seeking to decide what injustice actually is, and be prepared to bring potentially
controversial issues to light. Only then will anthropology 'contribute to the collective effort
that the social sciences as a whole need to make to confront a social world which has
changed almost out of recognition in a few short years' (Pottier 1999:4). There is a
similarity here with the opposition to exploitative practices that the organic farmers I
interviewed had. Anthropology allows the researcher to go out in the field and ask
questions, enabling an alternative face of society to emerge. Particularly in the case of
literature about farming, James Scott observes that 'historians and journalists, for the most
part, write history from the large urban centers and from the perspective of literal elites.
The rural population is generally treated as the more-or-less passive recipient of projects
hatched and implemented from above'(Scott 2012:4). This work, and indeed work by many
anthropologists working with agricultural communities can help to restore a voice to those
who dwell far from the center and form an understanding of minorities on their terms.
Through my year of researching for this thesis, anthropology gave me a reason to
focus my attention on the fascinating world that is organic agriculture. It provided me with
an opportunity to listen to and learn from people who have their 'skin in the game',
meaning that their livelihoods depend on the way they perceive their world and act (Taleb
2013:l. 6620). And finally, to do what anthropology does best: to connect the dots, to make
sense of seemingly unrelated ideas by figuratively bringing different people together at the
same table and getting them to talk to each other.







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Chapter 2: Resources

Precious Soil
A farmer has to make several decisions to manage her resources that allow her to
achieve goals of agricultural production. One of the key resources in farming is the soil.
Indeed, 'organic philosophy began as a philosophy of the soil(Guthman 2004:l.3167), and
it is not hard to understand why, once one begins to understand the centrality of soil in
agriculture. One of the most interesting terms that deal with soil in Japan is the idea of
shindofuji, with four chinese characters denoting that soil and the body are inseparable.
Soil making, or tsuchi-dsukuri in Japanese, refers to the ways in which farmers
nourish and maintain their soil. The centrality of this practice is readily apparent when one
hears of the various 'factions' (ha) in agriculture that arise as a result of differences in the
way one treats the soil. Hidemasa Koizumi is well known within organic farming circles
for his method of collecting fallen leaves from the nearby satoyama and composting it
before putting it in his soil (Koizumi 2004); Furuno relies on his aigamo ducks to replenish
soil fertility; and most farmers add some version of compost, taihi, the contents of which
are as varied as the number of farmers who make it (Hashimoto 2011). Some farmers take
precise measurements of the nutrients in the soil and replenish any depleted mineral
(Solomon and Reinheimer 2013); others make it a point to add various bacteria cultures to
the soil in order to improve the bacterial composition of the soil. A whole other group
advocates the no-till practices of Masanobu Fukuoka (of 'One-Straw Revolution fame),
preferring to trust the power of nature (shizen no chikara ni makaseru).
Understanding the soil, therefore, is key to understanding those who profess to be
its stewards. But soil is significant for people in general: Soil is our most under-
appreciated, least valued and yet essential natural resource' (Montgomery 2012:3). In his
masterful inquiry into the importance of soil, David Montgomery notes, 'soil is an

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intergenerational resource, natural capital that can be used conservatively or
squandered'(Montgomery 2012:5). He highlights the problems of erosion, reporting that an
estimated twenty-four billion tons of soil are lost annually around the worldseveral tons
for each person on the planet (2012:4). This is something that we should be worried about
when we look back on collapsed civilizations. Soil, of all things, brought down ancient
societies that abused their land and paid the ultimate price, leaving a legacy of degraded,
worn-out fields that impoverished descendants (2012:l.61). The deserts of Egypt, the
desolation of Rapa Nui and the fall of the Roman empire have all been linked to the ill-
effects of soil abuse.
The hyakusho I interviewed, however, understood the value of this precious
resource. Soil in Japan, Furuno says, acts as a record of the efforts of previous generations
of farmers to make the lean soil more fertile. By growing legume cover crops and adding
night soil, they managed to build up a layer of topsoil rich in humus, a layer that is almost
ten centimeters deep in places. It represents the gradual accumulation of labor and organic
material, a treasure within which lies the seeds of sustainability (Furuno and Sato 2012:57).
The way we treat our soil also speaks to us about ourselves, revealing to us an
important aspect of human psychology. Looking back on history from the perspective of
soil reveals an uncomfortable truth about our ability to grasp change over time: our
memory and attention spans are short. Efforts to reverse the course of soil erosion tend to
get hijacked by other priorities (Montgomery 2012:l.76). Soil is a valuable resource
because it takes so long to form, and yet the time-spans involved do not allow it to capture
the collective imagination. It is not urgent enough to warrant our immediate attention and
decisive action. Instead, and as in all other environmental issues like climate change and
the extinction of species, it seems that the slower the emergency, the less motivated we
are to do anything about itDegradation has occurred over extended time spans that mask
the severity of the extended problem and prevent it from becoming a priority that compels

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effective action' (2012:l.127). Jeffrey Sachs, the prominent economist, also laments the
drastic shrinking of the time horizon for public debate and its adverse effects on the way in
which we approach environmental issues, asserting that we cant address any of these
problems if we cant think systematically about the future (Sachs 2011:176).

Soil as Dirt
Under an industrial ethic, soil is reduced to being just another resource,
something to be exploited by extracting the largest possible amount of nutrients as
efficiently as possible. Applying the principles of increasing production in an industrial
setting has led to a change in the way agriculture is practiced, observes Kakei. In a
capitalist industry set-up, one of the most fundamental ways of increasing ones profits is
the reduction of production costs while maintaining the cost outputs. To maintain the same
level of output with lesser capital is something that is a relatively straightforward idea in
the service sector, but when this principle is applied in agriculture, it leads to a loss of
respect for the soil. Simply treated as another tool in production, its significance is
diminished and it is exploited in order to extract as much from it as possible. The
introduction of chemicals to the soil led to a fall in the quality of soil over the years in
exchange for marginal production gains in the short-term (Kakei and Shirato 2009:14).
Montgomery notes that conventional agriculture in the U.S in particular and in other
countries in general tends to view soil as a commodity, something to be used up and
thrown away. This is something that will not benefit later generations. Although it takes
around 200 years for a centimeter of topsoil to form, conventional agriculture typically
increases soil erosion to well above natural rates, resulting in a fundamental problem
where soil is depleted at a much faster rate than it accumulates, sometimes taking less than
a decade to lose centuries' worth of accumulated soil(Montgomery 2012:24). The logic of
expendable resources has also led to the operation Concentrated Animal Feeding

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Operations (CAFOs) where animals are crowded into small spaces for the sake of
productivity, with no regard to the rights that the animals possess; again, they are just
tools (Kakei and Shirato 2009 :19).

Waste as a Resource
One of the problems with the globalized industrial food chain is the tremendous
amount of food that is wasted. Ackerman-Leist estimates that around 1.3 billion tons of
food is wasted annually, a figure that translates into the wastage of more than one-third of
edible products(Ackerman-Leist and Madison 2013:l. 1413). Japan is guilty as well, with
sources suggesting that the amount of food wasted is in the range of 17 to 23 million tons,
again equal to roughly one-third of the food in circulation (An Appalling Waste of Food
2013). Sakamoto uses a novel approach to this problem of food wastes: he uses it to feed
his pigs. It is an innovative solution that addresses two problems, that of the rising prices of
imported feed and the strain that is put on waste disposal facilities because of the large
amount of raw waste. I had the chance to help Sakamoto with the process of procuring and
preparing the feed for the pigs. We first visited the local garbage collection center.
Sakamoto has had experience working part-time for garbage collection companies before
he settled on his farm, and this experience stands him in good stead. He is on good terms
with the local garbage collection company, and he asks them to spare anything edible for
his pigs. The intrigued workers help out somewhat overzealously, and save anything that
looks remotely edible. When I am told that we will be rummaging through the waste, I
steel myself for nauseating odors and maggots, but am pleasantly surprised: decomposition
has not yet set in. Who says beggars cant be choosers? laughs Sakamoto as we pick
our way through the containers full of discarded vegetables that still look edible, lined up
behind the garbage trucks. Wherever we find signs of damage or rot, we throw it into the
back of the dump-trucks which will later head to the incinerators where everything will be

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burnt. We keep the best for the pigs and throw away the rest since we have more food than
we will need. Our next stop is a local factory specializing in processing wheat. Behind the
low buildings housing the work area, there is a small refrigerated shed where all the waste
is kept. I come here twice a week, Sakamoto explains, as he opens up the shed and starts
handing me black trash-bags. They use these black bags to hide all the waste from the
eyes of the manager. At least they feel some shame! The bags are heavy; I peer inside and
see many packets of gyoza dumpling skins. These are the result of overproduction, the
predicted demand falling short of supply. These too! he says, grabbing some blue plastic
bags. In order to make the process of making the circular discs of dumpling skins more
efficient and speedy, the round pieces are cut out of rectangular sheets of kneaded wheat.
The leftover parts are thrown into the blue bags. Then there are some curiously squishy
bags. Fillings he explains. The seasoned meat that forms the filling of the dumpling is
also there, discarded. There was also one unopened sack of wheat, and half a sack of
cornstarch. Later, back on the farm, he shakes his head as he opens the sack of wheat.
What farmer would imagine the wheat that he put so much effort into would end up going
straight to the dump? It really is shameful. They really cannot understand nor imagine the
thought that goes into the production of this sack of wheat. Sakamoto does not buy animal
feed. The irony is not lost on him. Of the food that is gathered from around the world,
processed, packaged and displayed on shelves, more than half finds its way to the landfill
in Japan. Food that is wrested from producers in impoverished parts of the world is used to
provide the Japanese consumer with enough choices. If not bought it goes into the dump
and becomes waste, or in this case, feed for pigs. Perhaps this is the symbol of power
within the exploitation economy: feeding surplus food taken from other nations and
feeding it to swine (Sakamoto 2013).
The third place on the route is the local tofu store. We receive two crates full of
okara, the pulp that is left over after the process of making tofu. We also receive two

19
buckets full of left-over tofu. Being a specialty shop (kodawari no aru mise)concerned
with selling only fresh tofu, any tofu left unsold would be thrown out. As Sakamoto thanks
the owner who has come out to greet us, Sakamotos eldest son (around 5 years old)
nonchalantly scoops up a slice of tofu out of the container and starts eating. Wanna try
some? he offers me the bucket. I take some of the tofu and eat cautiously. After all, this
was being thrown out. It tasted good with a very delicate texture. I ate some more. Our
round for the day was over. Other days take him to different shops, and between these
shops, he manages to procure more than enough food for his pigs.
Work begins after returning back to the farm. I start opening the packets of
dumpling skins. After a few minutes, the process becomes repetitive. I shift to opening
packets full of ramen noodles once every ten minutes or so in order to break the monotony.
I spend an hour and a half, removing all the plastic wrapping on the food. Over the next
few days, he will use a machine to chop up the chunks of wheat into smaller particles and
then leave them to ferment, increasing their nutritional value and also getting rid of
unnecessary chemicals. I cant feed them food that is supposed to be safe for humans to
eat because they wont touch it, referring to some food that is full of anti-oxidants and
other preservatives.
Furunos fields are also fertilized with a different form of waste: the manure from
the ducks as they swim in the paddy fields is integrated back into the soil. The manure
from Sakamotos pig farms also go back into the paddy fields. Organic systems are
essentially cyclic and have space for, even welcoming waste. On the other hand,
industrial notions of efficiency and speed mean that waste is problematic and has to be
disposed of, be removed from the system as quickly as possible. Thus, the way in which
waste is viewed is another key aspect to demarcating organic and industrial agriculture.
On my last day in Hiroshima, Sakamoto proudly showed me a makeshift cage
made of wood panels he had scavenged. Inside were two chickens and a pig. In here goes

20
all our food scraps and left-overs. The pig eats some, the birds eat the rest, and what is not
eaten attracts insects which are delicious tidbits for the chickens. He goes on to explain
that this is how animal husbandry should be: the conversion of what is not edible to man
into something that is nutritious. This is a miniature ecosystem, and it encapsulates what I
am trying to achieve here.

The Machine
The machine embodies a technology which is part of modern
science. Speed, scale, noise, glitter are its characteristics one
observes at first glance. The machine organizes men, materials,
energy, and information on a scale unknown before and at an ever-
increasing speed. So does it disorganize societies and destroy their
knowledge bases elsewhere on a colossal scale with equal speed. It
has produced wealth and glitter for a few, and poverty, darkness, and
noise for the rest. Underlying both creation and destruction,
organization and disorganization, lies a common characteristic of
modern technology: violence. Modern technology is violent for all
(Raghuramaraju 2006:178179).

Modern society fosters the notion that technology will provide solutions to just
about any problem. Indeed, the industrial ethic is based upon this assumption. But no
matter how fervently we believe in its power to improve our lives, technology simply
cannot solve the problem of consuming a resource like soil faster than we can generate it
(Montgomery 2012:6). Another resource that is limited, and yet is being consumed faster
than we can replace, if we can replace it, is oil. Fossil fuels form the backbone of
agriculture in the third quadrant as the following graph shows.

21

Fig 2. A comparison of energy flows in food (Ackerman-Leist and Madison 2013:l. 1072)
Oil is present in different forms. It fuels the machinery in fields and in the
transportation, it provides the raw material for the packaging, and more often than not, it is
used to produce our electricity with which we run the refrigerator and the microwave oven.
This predominance of fossil fuels has been enabled by the mechanization of agriculture.
Indeed, technology has helped to reduce the strain of farm work, and has allowed a small
farming population to feed the masses. However, machines have also led to many changes
for the worse.
Paul Roberts has identified the technology treadmill as one key problem
encountered by farmers around the world (2009:l.152). Garkovich (1995) also deals with
the treadmill phenomenon in her research of fourth quadrant farmers. New technology is
often expensive, and must be purchased through various loans and subsidies offered by the
government. The specialized nature of the technology and machines involved makes them
a sunken asset, something that can be paid off only through an increase in production,
although an increase in production does not necessarily lead to an increase in income. Rice

22
transplanters and Combine harvesters are two of the machines that are heavily used in
Japanese agriculture but at the same time are sunken assets. They can be used only for the
expressed purpose of planting and harvesting rice, respectively, and because every farmer
needs it at around the same time, it is near impossible to share. Maintenance of the
machines, as well as upgrades are similarly expensive. The machinery allows the farmer to
increase her productivity, and more often than not, leads to an expansion of the area under
cultivation. However, the resulting increase in production may not translate into an
increase in income; prices may fall because of a supply surplus.
This vicious circle of ever-increasing amount of produce flooding the market is
behind many of the incongruities of the modern-day food supply, notes Roberts, pointing
to the multiple uses of corn that rose to utilize surplus corn. Furuno highlights the plight of
the farmer within this mechanization, observing that simply encouraging
mechanizationwithout rethinking the fundamental principles of agriculture, while
looking good on the surface, is a sure recipe for a steady slide into poverty. I cannot help
but conclude that this is exactly the predicament that many farmers are in (Furuno
2011:178). Indeed, this is the plight of many in the fourth quadrant, as the farmer tries to
improve yields through mechanization. Farming is a business where debt is a part of
operational reality (Garkovich, Bokemeier, and Foote 1995:132136). Montgomery also
describes reliance on technology as 'addictivetechnology and chemical based farming
are mainly composed of practices promoted by multinational corporations to increase the
reliance on its products' (Montgomery 2012:242).

Labor
All the farmers in the Yasato region I interviewed possessed minimal machinery
by the standards of a conventional farm. Machines are considered more of a nuisance than
a necessity. They are too expensive to use on the hyakushos income. Machines are not a

23
must in a self-sufficient lifestyle, Kakei explains to me (Kakei 2013). He cites Gandhis
doctrine of bread-labor, the moral imperative that one must earn ones bread by the sweat
of ones browBodily labour is a duty imposed by nature on mankind. And one who eats
but does not do any manual work in effect steals food (Dasgupta 1996:36). The labor is
something he welcomes more than new machines, the machines which he feels exposes the
farmer to dangers never experienced before and reduces farming into small, easily
understandable steps, making it a dull and numbing repetitive business (Kakei and Shirato
2009:14) .
Furuno is different from other farmers I interviewed in the sense that he is an
advocate of appropriate machinery in organic agriculture. Perhaps this is a position born of
necessity; unlike the other farmers I interviewed, his family has been involved in
agriculture for many generations. Thus, he has access to prime land, land that is flat and
easily accessible, and located close by. Even then, the total area of the land he farms is
around 3 hectares, not much when compared to the average large-scale farm in America.
He tells me that some work can only be done by a machine. He shows me the largest
machine he uses: a tractor to pull along a sub-soiler, an attachment that is basically two
long prongs mounted on a frame behind the tractor. This machine is key to growing the
second round of crops after the rice has been harvested. The sub-soiler manages to break
through the thick layer of soil that allows the paddy field to retain the water during the
rice-growing season. It also opens up deep furrows in the soil, allowing the water to
evaporate more quickly than it would have otherwise, so much so that just three days later,
the field was lined with long ridges (une), beds onto which the winter harvest of Chinese
cabbage were to be transplanted. It is the only way in which he can grow two crops on the
same piece of land, and yet it does not cost much. Machines can also allow a small farmer
to do so much more. The key, he says, is to create a technology that manages to reduce the
labor of the farmer at affordable prices (Furuno 2013). Most of the machines he uses have

24
small engines and are pushed along in the fields by hand, and Furuno is working with a
local company to design better small machinery.
Sakamoto is also a supporter of appropriate technology. He improvises a lot,
trying to make the best out of the trash that he occasionally finds, resulting in a very cost-
effective mechanization on his farm. Improvising has another benefit. Being a form of
problem-solving, it allows him to exercise his innovativeness. Benri sugiru, ima no nihon
shakai wa! (modern Japanese society is too convenient!) exclaims Sakamoto (Sakamoto
2013). Another key to success is not to rush things and to instead try things that are
realistic and achievable. Identifying the problem or need is one of the keys to success.
Instead of relying on market-made answers, its much better if you can rely on common
sense and careful observation. Although the resulting mix of energy sources and machines
may seem complicated when one considers how convenient market solutions are, but the
payoffs include more redundancy, more control over energy decisions, and more fun and
education as the children start helping out.













25
Chapter 3: Community

The Village and The City
Souichi Yamashita is one of the most prolific farmer-writers of Japan. To date, he has
authored around 45 books, mostly dealing with agriculture (Bird 2013b). Yamashita details
how the rural areas are acting as a receptacle for those who have been used and then
discarded by the high-growth high-competition society that has characterized much of
Japans post-war growth. He uses figures from a 1994 census to illustrate his point
(Yamashita 1999). Of the nearly 36 thousand people who returned to agriculture, 32
thousand were aged 40 years and over. The village, forgotten for the 33 years of Japans
phenomenal growth, had been robbed of its vitality but was now acting to provide a place
for those deemed useless by the society they had worked so hard to create. He notes with
a sense of irony that when the economy falls apart, people will come back to the land. Our
job is to preserve these places. People need something to return to(Bird 2013b).
Yamashita provides us with a record of the rapid shift that Japan underwent post-war,
when the rising prospects of life in the city lured many of the young away from the rural
communities. Yamashita notes that the song Tokyo e ikou yo (Lets go to Tokyo;
interestingly, this song, released in 1955, was banned because it enticed the young
generation to go to Tokyo) by Fujio Maki marks the start of the mass exodus towards the
city centers. Five years later, the exodus would be exacerbated by the sending off of whole
groups of promising young children fresh out of junior high school, known in the local
parlance as golden eggs (kin no tamago), to earn money in Tokyo. The extent of the
outflow can be seen in the fact that many special trains were arranged for the expressed
purpose of ferrying these young hopefuls to the three mega-metropolitan areas of Tokyo,
Nagoya and Osaka. In the decade spanning from 1957 to 1966, close to 4 million people
moved out of the rural areas and into these urban areas, shifting the balance in such a way

26
that the three cities together were home to more than 45% of the Japanese population
(Yamashita 1999:1823). However, in the years to come, the myths that had made Japan
Inc. distinctive and envied started crumbling. The waves of globalization would hit hard,
making ideas like the convoy system , the common destiny company and the promise of
lifetime employment impossible to implement (Yamashita 1999:32). This resulted in the
situation that Yamashita observed as noted earlier.
Recognition of the fact that agriculture is deeply connected to agriculture has provided
the impetus for some well-known community movements. Two prime examples are The
Ainou Movement Ainou Undou (based in Mie Prefecture) and the Reverence for Life
Movement (RLM) Inochi wo Mamoru Undou(based in Kumamoto Prefecture). The
Ainou Movement began in the aftermath of World War II as a way of disseminating
agricultural knowledge to help raise productivity, but gradually changed into a movement
calling for the creation of a more sustainable and harmonious society built around agrarian
villages. Started by a charismatic leader called Junichiro Kotani, the Ainou movement is
still in existence more than 50 years after its inception (Kotani 2004). The RLM was a
movement that lasted from 1962 to 1980, and was started by a group of concerned doctors that
called for a conceptual framework for health that encompassed healthcare, safe food and good
eating practice, and agriculture (Takekuma-Katsumata 2011:xiv). It involved farmers in a
movement that called for rural health. It calls for recognition that food is what our bodies are
made of and through the recognition of this simple fact, to support organic methods of
production. One of the leaders in this movement, Yoshitaka Takekuma notes that farmers are
just as important as doctors; yet do not receive the same amount of recognition. Citing the
notion of ishokudougen (a saying that implies that food and medicine have the same origins),
he notes that eating good food is the best way we can ensure our health. He makes use of the
concept of Food as Life (shoku wa inochi nari) to put this idea in more simpler terms
(Takekuma 1983:174). Both of these movements place emphasis on the role that farming plays

27
within the community, and worked to spread this fundamental recognition. And as we shall see
in the next section, community is inseparable from the notion of food.

Local/Transnational: Debates on Food Security and Food Sovereignty
Food security is a growing concern, both for the various bodies and entities
dealing with the problem of hunger in third-world countries and countries like Japan which
are dependent on imports for food. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of
the United Nations, food security at the individual, household, national, regional and
global level will be achieved when all people at all times have physical and economic
access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food
preferences for an active and healthy lifestyle (Schanbacher 2010:13). An important point
to be noted here is that the concept of food security does not include the need for self-
sufficiency of a community. Instead, it concentrates on the acquirement of the greatest
amount of food at the least cost. To this end, policies which encourage trade relations in
the food sector are put in place. Japan is no stranger to this globalized market: it is the
largest importer of agricultural goods, with an import market estimated to be worth around
6 trillion in 2008 (MAFF 2009). On a calorie-based calculation, this means that 61% of the
food consumed in Japan produced elsewhere. Food here is divorced from the cultural
contexts in which it has traditionally existed, and is instead used as a tool for imposing
neoliberal policies. Lewellen notes that a great deal of anthropological data suggests that
such 'unimpeded neoliberal capitalism increases inequality, destroys indigenous cultures,
promotes rampant consumerism, commodifies everything, transfers wealth from the poor
to the rich, eviscerates the environment, and disempowers the weak while further
empowering the strong' (2002:192). Indeed, Schanbacher points out that the dominant food
security model guided by neoliberal economic theory leads to the global concentration of
agricultural sectors," leading to the destruction of peoples sovereignty over the

28
production, distribution, and consumption of the foods they desire and the livelihoods
associated with them(2010:105). The concentration of agricultural sectors also implies the
concentration of industrial and knowledge-based sectors in First-world countries, creating
a fundamental imbalance of power between the two because of the differences in the
currency value of the products of these sectors. The disparity in the value of currencies also
favors a move into the third sector. Many developed countries are using their superior
economic position to shift their centers of production to third-world countries and
implement capital-intensive agriculture. Lewellen observes that while small farmers may
be able to produce food at a more efficient rate, (e)fficiency in cropping is only one part of
the whole process, and the small farmer is at a disadvantage in every other
aspect(Lewellen 2002:226227) be it in processing, transport, access to markets,
distribution or loans. At the same time, Lewellen notes that such movements of
globalization and neoliberal capitalism do not go unchallenged (2002:192). In this case, the
challenge comes from local movements all over the world intent on securing their food
sovereignty. In order to provide an alternative to the neoliberal concept that is food
security, the concept of food sovereignty has been advocated by peasant groups across the
world. La Via Campesina (International Peasant Movement), the organization which is
widely acknowledged to have consolidated the idea of food sovereignty, defines it as the
right of peoples, countries and state unions to define their agricultural and food policy
without the dumping of agricultural commodities into foreign countries. Food sovereignty
organizes food production and consumption according to the needs of local communities,
giving priority to production for local consumption (Schanbacher 2010:54). This
approach stands in stark contrast to the purely economic approach put forward by food
security, which creates the illusion of plenty by exploiting the availability of superior
economic resources to procure food. Instead, food sovereignty recognizes the societal
value that food production holds and emphasizes the role of the local community in food

29
production, processing and consumption. As a concrete step towards the achievement of
food sovereignty, the idea of localized production is often used, citing the fact that to the
productive, economic, and environmental benefits of small farm agriculture, we can add
the continuance of cultural traditions and the preservation of the rural way of life. If we are
truly concerned about rural peoples and ecosystems, then the preservation and promotion
of small, family farm agriculture is a crucial step we must take(Schanbacher 2010). Thus,
there is a concept of farming communities as not merely an economic entity but as a
powerful player in molding the idea of a community. This also meshes closely with the
idea of life environmentalism that has been put forward by Torigoe and Kada.

Community and the Farmer
Perhaps one of the most interesting findings was the cosmopolitan nature of the
conception of community that the farmers had. Farmers have traditionally been viewed as
rooted to the local community (Lewellen 2002:223), yet the farmers I interviewed proved
otherwise. While their immediate surroundings are local, and the work they do is on the
local scale, their ideas and the communities are decidedly cosmopolitan or global.
Uehara for example, was drawn to the possibilities of agriculture in building up
and maintaining communities. One of the big topics in the 1970s and recently as well,
community-building or chiiki zukuri garnered the interest of many university study
groups. Uehara belonged to one such group in Waseda during university, and later went on
to study the same in graduate school (Uehara 2013). Through his research he was able to
meet the people who were involved in the so-called primary sector, agriculture and forestry.
The people who were involved in production were all very independent and skilled, and he
was drawn to their way of life and philosophy. This would later provide him with the
motivation to see for himself the places where agrarian communities were thriving: he
decided to intern in an NGO that specialized in development aid for third-world countries.

30
Visiting Nepal and Bangladesh, he visited the agrarian communities there. Yet he was
surprised by what he found. The goals and aspirations of the villagers he interacted with
were strikingly similar to their First-world counterparts. Their definition of the better life
was defined by the acquisitions of cars and television sets, the new gadgets and the fast
food that were the symbols of the first world. The boundaries that he had in his mind
aligned along national borders faded away as he saw the glaring similarities in outlook.
The blessings and curses of modernity was something no longer confined to within the first
world nations but had transcended geographical boundaries.
Furuno talks about his experiences at a group set up for the expressed purpose of
creating a get-together for farmers in the Kyushu area (Kyushu hyakusho deai no kai) . He
remarks that there are two things essential for agriculture: soil and people (Furuno and Sato
2012:37). Ideally, the farmers identity is formed through interaction with two groups of
people: People in the sense of consumers, who evaluate the product and then pay for it, and
people as fellow producers, who share philosophies and techniques. At the get-together,
Furuno recalls how lucky he was to meet celebrity farmers like Souichi Yamashita and
Une Yutaka (Bird 2013a). They were some of the big names in the alternative agriculture
movement, and Furuno felt that it was important to have such role-models. At the same
time, not all the farmers who came were using alternative methodsthere were many
conventional farmers as well. But Furuno says that he had much to learn from them, in
terms of finding solutions to the same problems and accumulating important skills. It was
also a good opportunity to hear voices from outside ones circles. Whether alternative or
not, all the farmers would gather together and share their experiences over cups of sake and
good food, and forget their solitary existences as a minor group in society. Their common
hardships and shared passion for farming brought them together. At the same time, Furuno
extended his reach beyond Japan, transmitting the knowledge he had acquired to rice-
growing regions in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea,

31
Taiwan, and Vietnam in an effort to introduce the method (Japan Information Network
2002). Here too, he declared that whatever the nationality, the fellow farmer would always
be a friend. His concept of community is truly transnational. The Iidas are also well-
travelled. Koji Iida had spent around five years, travelling through various countries in
Latin America and Asia. The friends he made along the way still visit them on their farm in
Yasato (Iida 2013).

The State and the Farmer
Mi no take ni atta seikatsu, is a phrase that roughly translates as a life lived in a
manner befitting of ones stature. Sakamoto used this phrase often to describe his and his
familys approach to life. The first three words mi no take refers to ones stature, and is
used in a humble manner, to suggest that the speaker is not worthy of too much. The latter
part, ni atta seikatsu completes the sentence, and means a life adjusted to. This means
that one is not overreaching for goods or lifestyles beyond ones means, thus preventing
any unnecessary strain or pressure to keep achieving more. Contrary to the popular image
of agriculture as being protected by subsidies from the government, all of the farmers I
interviewed from the Yasato region have no debt; they take no loans and subsidies issued
by the government. All of them managed to procure enough money to start off, and then
keep things as simple as possible, and try their best to keep within their own limits. The
small scale of the fields is also not conducive to the increase of production through
machines. Sakamoto observes that this is a powerful fact that allows the hyakusho to enjoy
farming (Sakamoto 2013). Agriculture is fun when one can do as one pleases, enjoyable to
an unsuspected point. When he would watch his parents at work, his attention was drawn
to the unpleasant sides of this vocation (taihen na bubun). Sakamotos parents are both
farmers, and he recounts how his father would put in long hours in the field and at work,
out of proportion to his earnings. Feeling that his father was somehow mistaken, he

32
promised himself that he would find a way to get more money without working as hard.
But strangely, once he started farming, he started understanding that there was little
distinction between play and work. More often than not, work for the organic farmer is the
same as leisure. It is in toil that they find pleasure, something that is hard to understand,
especially for children.
He does not use any hojokin, subsidies or grants provided by the government
because it does not fit in with their self-sufficient lifestyle. Everything has to be black and
white, everything has to be accounted and paid for. He told me of the time when he built
the structure that houses his pigs.While he had managed to get hold of the roofing and
wood required to make the framework of the building, he still needed some concrete for
the foundations. When he tried applying for the hojokin in order to pay for the concrete
only, he was denied because he was not employing specialists who would be able to
compose the required documents. Figuring it was not worth the hassle, he borrowed the
help of his family and built the shed up from scratch according to his own preferences.
In his book, Rural Society in Japan (1980), Tadashi Fukutake provides a
glimpse into the lives of farmers in Japan in pre- and post-war Japan, and the role the state
played in their lives. Through his work, we see what farmers expected, and more
importantly, what was expected of farmers. Fukutake notes the clear intertwining of the
agricultural classes and the ruling class. There is a sense here of the state rewarding the
farmers and peasants who were instrumental post-war in the production of enough food to
feed the masses, not through economic incentives or better living standards, but instead by
extolling the virtues of agriculture (Fukutake 1980:17), claiming that it was the
foundation of state and society (1980:17). It was the ideology of the imperial state which
provided the justification for the existence of farmers, Fukutake explains, and with Japans
loss in the Second World War, the imperial state took along with it the strong sense of
purpose that had guided the peasantry up till then (1980:22). This meant that the rationale

33
which justified the poor compensation received from farming in comparison with other
professions because it was a noble calling could no longer be supported by the state, and
that the rapid spread of capitalist principles of production mean that farming is now
thought of as an enterprise that should show a profit (Fukutake 1980:202). This
conception has been transcended somewhat by the existence of small farmers who eschew
ties with both the state and unfettered capitalism in evaluating the meaning of their work.


Knowledge
In Ueharas orchard, we start pruning off dead branches.The trees act as living
records: each cut the tree receives, each typhoon it survives, each year of high
temperatures: all influence the growth of the tree and are therein recorded. This is what
makes fruit growing tricky, the fact that the time-spans involved are so long. The trees we
were pruning on that day were some he had been entrusted with by a more elder farmer
who had retired. He points out some of the branches and tells me how he does not agree
with some of the pruning work of his predecessor, while acknowledging that it was the
way that everybody normally did it (minna ga futsuu ni yatteiru). Based on knowledge that
he has learnt from some biology textbooks on plant development and physiology, he
modifies the advice of his neighbors and prunes the branches according to his own system.
The process will be gradual and it will be years before the trees start assuming the shape he
is envisioning. When I ask him if there are any traditional pruning methods that have been
handed down, he tells me that they exist, but that he prefers to work out a system that he
truly understands instead of doing 'what everyone else is doing' (Uehara 2013). On the
lowest part of the orchard, I find a tree with unfamiliar leaves. It turns out to be an avocado
plant, something that he is experimenting because he hopes to grow different varieties of
fruit in the future. This approach to farming is what Montgomery advocates in order to

34
change agriculture. He calls for farming techniques which do not rely on the
implementation of a standardized model or system but rather the creation of farming
systems which are optimal for the local conditions, something which he terms farming
with brains rather than by habit or convenience (Montgomery 2012:241).
For the more than 35 years that Furuno has been farming, he has been
experimenting constantly in order to deal with problems that crop up with the method of
farming that uses ducks. Because he farms using knowledge that he finds for himself, he is
constantly using a trial-and-error method. The knowledge he has managed to accumulate,
however, is formidable and has even enabled him to earn a doctorate degree in 2007
through a dissertation he worked on for more than two years, writing in the little time he
had to spare after working in the fields. He laments the current situation in education,
where the gain of agricultural science is the loss of agricultural communities (nouga
sakaete nougyou horobu) . He says that those who receive a college degree education in
agricultural science should be out in the fields helping to find new knowledge to help
sustain farming communities, instead of working in cities. Sadly, this is not the case.
Kakei feels a need for a fundamental rethink of the education system and the
information distribution system to ensure that it does not favor the ethics and principles of
an industrial society, but instead envisions a less exploitative and more sustainable society
(Kakei 2013). The economist Jeffrey Sachs observes that, Taking moral responsibility for
the future, accepting the reality that our actions today will determine the fates of
generations to live, is daunting enough. Taking practical responsibility is equally
difficult(Sachs 2011:177). Kakei felt that practicing a morally responsible agriculture
would be very difficult, but after experiencing the farming life, the life of the hyakusho for
himself, he found out very quickly that the agricultural way of life was prosperous,
healthy and fun. He had assumed that the economic poverty and manual labor he
associated with the farming life would be too much for him to bear. The dark images he

35
and his generation had associated with farming were the result of a journalism that was
financed by the growing industries in the post-war years and a warped education that
prepared the numerous workers needed to fuel Japans miraculous industrialization (Kakei
and Shirato 2009:89)
Indeed, there exist a fundamental imbalance in the treatment accorded to the
knowledge that is produced in institutions and the knowledge that is gained over decades
of experimentation by farmers and passed down as traditional wisdom. Recalling his years
as an undergraduate and graduate student, Uehara notes that the experts in the community-
building study group he studied under relied on the advice of doctors and politicians, and
bureaucrats well-versed in policies. Uehara felt a fundamental discord: The people who
were being asked to advise on the creation and maintenance of communities were people
far removed from the everyday community, the lived community. The problems mentioned
by the study group and the answers formed were predictable as well. The problem was
always people: that there were not enough of them. To somehow bring people back to the
village, the study group would resort to pseudo-colonial approaches: most notably the
promotion of tourism to the village. Bringing in industries was also a popular solution to
the problem of the thinning village population. The failings common to these approaches
was and is the fact that they have little use for the tremendous amount of knowledge that
the local community members possess, because it fails to fit into their idea of community.
The education system is of little help either; it gears children towards a life in the city and
based around the service and industrial sector. Little in the curriculum legitimizes the
knowledge of the villagers, and it is only natural that young people seek employment
elsewhere, usually in nearby cities. Simply because the younger generation has not learnt
of the skills to maintain an agrarian community, the community is changed into an entity
peripheral to the city, forced into a crude imitation of the city and judged on how well it
can achieve this goal. Kakei laments this situation, saying that those who have had first-

36
hand experience of a farmers life end up losing sight of the meaning of life, so how can
we expect children who have been brought up in a society where irresponsible adults
choose to have material wealth over all else to understand what it is that allows them to
live? In our modern times, where food and clothing can be found on supermarket stores,
the best way to get access to these goods is by dutifully following orders (Kakei and
Shirato 2009:25). A move into the first quadrant will not be possible without the support of
society as a whole, and knowledge dissemination is thought to play a large part in this
movement.



















37
Chapter 4: Visibility

Food and Images
Japans traditional cuisine washoku was added to UNESCOs Intangible Cultural
Heritage list late in 2013 (Japanese Cuisine Added to UNESCO Intangible Heritage List
2013). The idea of washoku encompasses so many different philosophies, like that of
seasonality, sparseness and making do with what one has; it is as rich in meaning as it is
pleasing to the eye. Yet all too often, the message implied within this cuisine is studiously
ignored. Most of the ingredients used to create a washoku dish come from abroad,
vegetables and fruit available year round allow for consumers to disregard seasonality, and
sparseness of food is something that is unthinkable. What remains is an imitation of
washoku, something fit for the showcases in the museum to which this cultural heritage is
increasingly in danger of being relegated to:
It is no longer a question of imitation, nor duplication, nor even parody. It is a
question of substituting the signs of the real for the realan operation of deterring every
real process via its operational double, a programmatic, metastable, perfectly descriptive
machine that offers all the signs of the real and short-circuits all its vicissitudes
(Baudrillard and Glaser 1994:2)
In an eerie echo of this situation, food has become mystical for many in the first
world. It has been unceremoniously removed from the position of the main concern of
households and instead has been shunted into the corner, viewed as no more than a
necessary burden. In order to free up more of the family budget to spend on other pursuits,
food has been relegated down the list. People are increasingly finding recourse to fast food,
with less and less people spending time in the kitchen. The MAFF Annual Report on Food,
Agriculture and Rural Areas (FY2012) notes, 'the share of overall food expenditure has
declined for meat and vegetables while increasing for cooked food and

38
oils/fats/condiments'. Other figures, mainly those pointing to the gradual decline in couple-
and-child households, suggest that the trend is likely to continue, with the externalization
of the Japanese diet projected to grow further. The value of the sales of the home-meal
replacement industry has more than doubled in the past twenty years, going from a net
worth of 2.3 trillion in 1990 to 5.8 trillion in 2011, and is expected to keep rising (MAFF
2012). The organic farmers stand to lose the most from this trend, since the majority of
their consumers are people who subscribe to get boxes of fresh produce delivered every
week, in a system that is now famous as the Teikei system. The Japanese predecessor of
the CSA (community-supported agriculture) set-up connects the farmer to the consumer
and is one of the ways in which farmers can get higher renumeration for their products. It
also allows them to get recognition for their organic products without having to get JAS
certification. It is predicated, however, on the consumer choosing to cook, instead of
ordering pre-cooked food. A general shift in society towards ready-made foods hurts the
prospects of organic farmers who hope to make a living solely out of selling farm produce.
Yet it is not only the organic farmer who suffers. Michael Pollan records the ill-effects of
this trend away from preparing ones own food for society in general in his book Cooked:
A Natural History of Transformation (2013). The pre-packaged foods that dominate First
World markets cause problems, he claims, for the health of our bodies, our families, our
communities, and our land but also more importantly, it disrupts our sense of how our
eating connects us to the world (Pollan 2013). He elaborates that the growing distance
from any direct, physical engagement with the processes by which the raw stuff of nature
gets transformed into a cooked meal is chaining our understanding of what food is,' usually
for the worse (2013:9). The ability of the processed foods industry to provide us with
neatly packaged food has reduced it to just another commodity, an
abstraction(2013:9).This abstraction of the many complex processes that gets food on the
table pushes us further and further into a vacuum with no place for physical engagement or

39
the proper appreciation of the value of the things that keep us functioning. Indeed, as
Pollan wryly observes, we end up trying to nourish ourselves on images (2013:10) . And
images dominate the shelves of the modern grocery store or conbini creating a simplistic
facade where nothing is really connected (Iwasaki 2013:28). Indeed, a quick trip to the
grocery store will allay fears of any immediate crisis (Montgomery 2012:2; Roberts
2009:298) for those living in developed nations, simply because so much of the food is
processed .
Without a television at home, Sakamoto is astounded by the speed of the
television commercials he sees whenever he happens to be in town. He learnt an important
message though: that people are buying images and stories (Michaels 2011:3).
Understanding that making good agricultural produce is only part of the story, with the
ability to sell making up the rest is a realization that is essential to market ones product.
People must be convinced of certain narratives and images in order to buy something.
Once a narrative is accepted, there are no questions asked, even questions regarding
authenticity or intrinsic value. It is not enough, Sakamoto observes, to produce the
authentic. One must market it as such. People can be convinced that anything is good for
them. That is how things like fizzy drinks, fast food and pesticides are soldthe
consumers are taught that these products will somehow heighten the quality of their lives.
The creators of the authentic thus have their work cut out; they must educate their
customers and customers-to-be to be consumers about the value and meaning of the
authentic: without any such effort, the good intentions and hard efforts of the farmers will
be wasted. One of the ways in which farmers made their food chain more transparent was
through the sharing of information through newsletters (tsuushin) they pack with their
produce or information that is posted on their websites (see appendix). These sources of
information help convey the various undertakings by the producer to the consumer,

40
involving both in a highly personal relationship that breaks the barriers found in the
industrial system.

Food and Safety
Safety is one of the key derivatives of visibility, and perhaps the biggest reason
for the consumer to buy organic is the safety that it implies and promises. Two of the most
prominent people in the organic movement of Japan wrote books dealing with the problem
of pesticides. Giryo Yanase was a medical practitioner in Nara Prefecture and one of the
first people to notice and record the ill-effects of pesticides in a book that came out in 1961
(Takekuma-Katsumata 2011:112) He was followed by Sawako Ariyoshi, a prominent
writer who penned the seminal Fukugouosen(Multiple Pollution), a book that has been
hailed as the Silent Spring of Japan. Their efforts raised awareness about the need for
safer foods, and organics rose to fill the need. Indeed, the defining characteristics of
Organics are often cited as safe and ability to have peace of mind (anzen anshin). One
of Ueharas aims is to grow fruits that are safe to eat, even the skin (Kawa made tabereru
mono wo tsukuritai). Citrus plants and other fruits require intensive pesticide use to cater
to a notoriously picky Japanese consumer base. Blemishes appear wherever insects pierce
the skin in order to get at the sweet nectar within; and blemishes on the skin lead to a fall in
the value of the fruit as a product.Fruits are also treated post-harvest to prevent damage
while shipping. The resulting mix of toxic chemicals and wax on the surface of the fruits
may be harmful to the consumers. Although this means that he is able to harvest and sell
less of the fruit, he is happy with the compromise because safety of the food (shoku no
anzen) is the most important quality for him. On Sakamotos farm, the pigsties are
spacious and the floors covered with a thick layer of sawdust. New-born piglets wriggle
through holes in the fences and run about, poking their inquisitive noses into the crates and
cardboard boxes to inspect the contents. Such scenes are unimaginable on an efficient

41
modern day pig-farm, with space being used sparingly, and pigs confined. The upside of
allowing the pigs space to move about makes itself apparent in the fact that Sakamoto uses
no drugs and antibiotics on his farm.
Instead of supporting farmers who make healthy and safe food, we often separate
the two, and leave our personal health in the doctors hands. However, citing the principle
of ishokudougen, Souichi Yamashita points out the iatrogenics of medicine, suggesting
that as medicine progresses, the human body regresses (Yamashita 1999:94). Iatrogenics
(literally, caused by the healer) implies causing harm while one intervenes to try to help
(Taleb 2013:l. 2140). It refers to unintended side-effects that are caused when one works
on the basis of a limited understanding. Yamashita talks about the principle and laments
how society ends up rewarding the medical practitioner for the excessive use of antibiotics,
causing a weakening of the human body, while failing to support the farmer who is the one
who has the potential to provide society with the safe food that is a key to good health.
When talking about food safety, perhaps the biggest challenge that the organic
farmer must face is the after-effects of the nuclear contamination in the aftermath of the
3.11 disaster. Safety started to be measured in Becquerels, the unit denoting radioactivity,
and many farmers were dealt a heavy blow. Ujita for example, was enjoying an increase in
customers in the decade leading up to 2011 but began to lose many customers, particularly
restaurants, after news of possible contamination spread. Ujita said, sekkyokuteki ni jibun
no mono wo urenaijishin wo motenai (It is hard to try to sell your products; even you
yourself are not sure of whether the food is safe or not) (Ujita 2013). The only way to
regain legitimacy is through the use of expensive tests that measure the amount of radiation
present; even then, success is not guaranteed. At Sakamotos home, I was starting my
interview after a long day of work. As we moved onto some eggplant tempura and katsuo
no tataki (lightly roasted bonito), the talk shifted to the after-effects of the Fukushima
disaster. I hope you dont mind eating fish, given the current situation (TEPCO dumping

42
radioactive waste-water into the sea).I received this as a gift but I didnt want my children
to eat it because it may contain some levels of radioactivity. I think it is fine but I dont
want to take any chances; ever since 3.11, we havent eaten much fish. I meditated on the
glistening piece of fish caught between my chopsticks. I murmured my thanks (saying
itadakimasu) before taking my first bite. Although Sakamoto and his family do not eat fish
since the accident, he does not know for sure if it is necessary to go to such lengths. After
all, it is how each person decides to interpret the information that is at their disposal that
determines how they act. The damage at Fukushima nuclear power-plant after 3.11 was
unprecedented, and beyond prediction (souteigai). This is a manifestation of the fact that
man-made complex systems tend to develop cascades and runaway chains of reactions
that decrease, even eliminate, predictability and cause outsized events. So the modern
world may be increasing in technological knowledge, but, paradoxically, it is making
things a lot more unpredictable (Taleb 2013:l. 398). Sadly, it is the farmer who is forced
to remembershe cannot forget about Fukushima and move on, oblivious to its aftermath.
Long after the headlines have died down and have moved onto more fresh and appealing
stories, little changes the reality on the ground. Far from the lens of the media, reports are
trickling out of Fukushima. Word of malformations, cancers and plant worker deaths is
spread along social networking services, although there is no way to conclusively prove the
effects of radiation. Sakamoto paints a picture of a society that is being effortlessly duped
into acting as the state wishes it to, a society that believes that what you see is all there is.
All this, he says, is because of a lack of transparency and the effort to find the truth.
One of the greatest signs of the transparency that is present in organic agriculture
is that the daily food tastes good (Hibi no gohan ga oishii). Iida Kanako explains, saying
that she is made very aware of the fact that they are living within an intricate matrix
through which they are connected to other living organisms, and that recognizing this truth
is what makes the food worth savoring (Iida 2011:127).

43

Transparent Energy
Energy is one of the key areas that needs to be addressed in order to create a
peaceful society. Finding alternative means of meeting ones energy needs is something
that is a movement of peace and will potentially change Japan. Seeking independence from
the grid is then, a form of declaration of a lifestyle, a statement committed to peace.
Sakamoto is interested in providing for his familys energy needs with as little dependence
on conventional sources of energy (electricity and gas) as possible. I think that trying to
solve energy problems is a way of trying to bring peace to our world.Peace cannot be a
viable concept unless energy problems are resolved (Sakamoto 2013). At first glance, his
car is an ordinary Toyota minivan, but a whiff of the fumes from the exhaust suggests that
something is different. The fumes smell decidedly like tempura, the Japanese delicacy.
Sakamoto had modified the engine to run on leftover cooking oil, a resource that he found
in abundance and free of cost in the local restaurants. A little surfing on the internet and
some minor modifications was all it took. I would also later look at his set-up for filtering
oil: it was made of two oil drums and some 18-liter tin cans (called ittokan) stacked up and
connected with a garden hose to each other. He found pride in the fact that he had built
everything from scratch. Their kitchen was also interesting, with a conventional gas stove
inside and a rocket stove outside.According to Wikipedia, A rocket stove achieves
efficient combustion of the fuel at a high temperature by ensuring a good air draft into the
fire, controlled use of fuel, complete combustion of volatiles, and efficient use of the
resultant heat. It has been used for cooking purposes in many energy poor locales (notably
Rwandan refugee camps) as well as for space and water heating (Rocket Stove 2013).
Sakamoto tells me how they usually cook using the rocket stove, with the gas stove inside
for days when they feel they do not have the energy to fire up the rocket stove, or if it is
raining. The extreme efficiency of this stove means that fuel consumption is cut in half,

44
with a few branches of wood sufficient to cook rice for one meal. The bath too, made use
of wood-fire to be heated up. Technology that managed to fit into ones lifestyle was the
most likely to be adopted and used. It all comes down to how practical the technology is.
It is more likely to be implemented if it can be fitted into ones lifestyle, says Sakamoto,
as he describes the chemistry behind what he is doing. Sakamotos farm is also a testament
to the sheer waste of energy in the food supply chain. As noted in an earlier section,
Sakamoto feeds food waste to his pigs. All the kilocalories, the food miles, the virtual
water and the farmers efforts find themselves in a pigs feeding trough, or worse still, in a
landfill.
Agriculture and energy production are connected in more ways than one may
think, and the most obvious connection is that agriculture is energy production. It is this
understanding of agriculture that has led the concept of rationality according to
conventional agriculture to be questioned in recent years, with proponents of alternative
forms of agriculture pointing out that the modernization of agriculture has been
accompanied by the loss of rationality of agriculture as an industry for creating energy
(Kakei 2009:15). The basic formula of capturing and converting the energy of the sun into
a form of energy consumable by humans, thus leading to an increase in the overall amount
of calories available, has been forgotten. It has been replaced by a system which relies on
the massive energy inputs through the use of fossil fuels in different forms, so much so that
modern agriculture expends more energy than it is able to create (Ackerman-Leist and
Madison 2013:l.980). On the other hand, traditional approaches, and more recently
agroecology, manages to lead to a net gain in energy (through the capture of solar energy)
even if immediate crop production may be less than that of its modern counterparts, which
is what production should aim for (Kakei 2009:17-18). Productivity and our definition of it
should be looked at carefully, Kakei argues, if we are to make the right decisions about
agriculture.

45

Chapter 5: Complexity

'Transforming food production into something more
sustainable isnt simply a matter of exchanging one set of inputs for
another or finding some new technology, but of developing a new
way to think about food and food production. And given the political
and intellectual inertia behind the existing system, what is becoming
clearer all the time is that the battle over the next food economy will
be as much about ideas as economics, and that the route to a truly
sustainable food system isnt likely to be the path of least resistance'
(Roberts 2009:272).

Simplified Agriculture
Procrustes was an inn-keeper in Greek mythology who, in order to make his
guests fit in his special bed, would cut the limbs of those who were too tall and stretched
out those who were too short. In a similar manner, Taleb observes that treating a living
biological system, in this case agriculture, as 'a simple machine is a kind of simplification
or approximation or reduction that is exactly like a Procrustean bed(Taleb 2013:l.1629).
Conventional Agriculture (kankou nouhou), or modernized agriculture (kindai nouhou) is
premised on the notion of efficiency , and seeks success in making agriculture more
'rational' and practiced along industrial principles(Wiebe et al. 2010:91) by reducing
complexities in the system. Nature was something to be controlled and subdued in order to
make the production process more streamlined and efficient. This was made possible
through the production and use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, a high level of
mechanization, and manufacture of seeds which allowed for monocultures to occupy much

46
of agricultural land. The enormous success of the adoption of conventional agriculture is
apparent from the fact that more than 99% of land in Japan is cultivated along its
principles . One of the most famous organic farmers in Japan, Yoshinori Kaneko has put
the town of Ogawa in Saitama prefecture on the map for the large number of organic
farmers there. He describes Japanese agriculture in the 1970s as importing all of the
American ideals of chemical agriculture in its bid to modernize (Colquhoun and ten Bosch,
2013 Food Matters).Before World War II, Japan had always been organic. After Japan
lost the war, the country was torn and poor. The Japanese lost hope in themselves and
looked to America for answers. They were sold on chemical farming methods to increase
yields and adopted an American way of eating. Paul Roberts provides a vivid description
of these industrialized methods in his book 'The End of Food. Under an industrial ethic,
agriculture is run just like any other manufacturing business. Raw materials such as No.2
yellow corn or BSCB (boneless, skinless chicken breasts) are now handled like any other
commodity: produced wherever costs are lowest, shipped to wherever demand is highest,
and managed via the same contracts, futures and other instruments used for timber, or tin,
or iron oreTo an important degree, the success of the modern food sector has been its
ability to make food behave like any other consumer product (Roberts 2009:l.126).
Agricultural products that are no different from other consumer products lend themselves
quite well to global trading, and this has fed into an increasingly powerful cycle: 'the
global market and foreign agroindustrial control of commercial cropping has sped up two
processes that have been going on for a long time: mechanization and rationalization
(Lewellen 2002:227).But as in Procrustes' bed, something had to be sacrificed; and these
sacrifices are looking less and less appealing. 'The world environment is paying a high
price for the system of intensive agriculture now widely adopted across the world.
Modernization and development have resulted in increasing homogenization of both the
natural and the cultural environments. Diverse and complex ecosystems are converted into

47
simple ones through monoculture, with an associated loss of habitat and extinction of
species' (Sutton and Anderson 2004:291).

Antifragility
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, one of the foremost thinkers of our times, proposes the
use of the concept of antifragility in understanding and dealing with risks made
complicated by the unpredictability of nature. Antifragile entities benefit from shocks;
they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and
love adventure, risk, and uncertainty (Taleb 2013:l. 331). He explains how this property is
possessed by everything that has evolved with time. Most importantly, antifragility
determines the boundary between what is living and organic (or complex), say, the human
body, and what is inert, say, a physical object (2013:l. 339). One of the best ways to
manage risk, therefore, is to become antifragile and embrace the complexity within the
system.
One good example of antifragility in organic farming systems is provided by
Furuno. Since his farming system depends on a biological agent, the duck, for pest control
within his fields, his rice crops are resistant to the infestations of leafhoppers
(unka)( insects belonging to the Cicadellidae family) which are blown in from China. The
ducks simply eat them up, preventing their spread. In comparison, the paddy fields around
Furunos have tell-tale brown patches of shriveled-up rice plants: the leafhoppers are
notorious for the speed with which they decimate crops almost ready for harvest within a
matter of days. The only way in which conventional farmers can deal with this problem
however, is through more chemical spraying, and even that is not effective at times
because the hoppers are often resistant to chemicals because of previous exposure in China.
Uehara's farm is located in Ehime Prefecture, towards the south-western end of
the island of Shikoku. Uehara shows me around his different pieces of land. He explains to

48
me that land in these areas is owned in patches located on different slopes as a way of
distributing risk. And the risks are very real; typhoons which blow in from down south in
summer and autumn often bring the seawater onshore and up the slopes, leading the trees
to wither from the increase in salinity, and the strong winds may break branches and drop
fruit. And then there are the infestations of brown marmorated stink
bugs(kusakamemushi), insects which pierce the skin of the citrus fruits, rendering them
inedible. The orchards here have been in existence since the Muromachi era (spanning
from the 13
th
to the 15
th
centuries), and are situated on the steep and abrupt slopes that
rise up from the Uwa sea. Carved into the concave sides of the low hills are narrow
terraces bolstered with large blocks of local stone. Where the gradient is high, the terraces
are no more than 3 meters wide, space enough for a single row of trees; the gentler slopes
closer to the sea allow for more trees to be planted. Here again, the ancestors have left
behind a landscape greatly altered that allows future generations to farm. Uehara remarked
that they must have done it by hand, and that it was humbling just to see what their
perseverance had managed to achieve. Armed with a pair of gardening scissors, I
accompany Uehara as he heads to his largest orchard in order to prune his trees. As we
look downwards from the asphalt road that marks the start of the land, Uehara points out
the various types of citrus he has planted. This again is another risk management strategy,
a way of ensuring that not all of his crop is damaged in a storm.
Antifragility is not a new concept, but it is a new way of looking at history. One of
the best examples of an antifragile, and therefore sustainable, society is Edo Period Japan.
Described by Brown as one of the most sustainable forms of human society, The Edo
period in Japan refers to the more than two-and-a-half centuries(1603-1867) of rule by the
Tokugawa shogunate. Although on the brink of environmental disaster in 1603, the same
land was populated by more than double the population by the time the era was replaced by
Imperial rule. Azby Brown concedes that although technological advances and government

49
policies may have contributed to this possibly unparalleled feat, more than anything else,
this success was due to a pervasive mentality that propelled all of the other mechanisms of
improvement. This mentality drew on an understanding of the functioning and inherent
limits of natural systems. It encouraged humility, considered waste taboo, suggested
cooperative solutions, and found meaning and satisfaction in a beautiful life in which the
individual took just enough from the world and not more (Brown 2009:10).This
philosophy was a keystone in the Edo period mentality, and is something that we can make
use of to make our present-day societies more antifragile. The noted Japanese biologist
Akira Miyawaki also concurs, pointing out that pre-modern Japan is one of the few
examples of a civilization that has successfully avoided any examples of environmental
degradation or destruction through human activities, a success that he attributes to the
practice of coexisting with forests and from the way people have been supported by their
local forests (Miyawaki and Box 2006:62). The continued existence of chinju-no-mori
(forests that surround a Shinto shrine) that dot the Japanese landscape is testimony to the
fact that forests were and are still held sacred, even symbolizing the traditional Japanese
landscape.

Multifunctionality and Specialization
One of the reasons that Kimura mentioned when talking about why he decided to
settle in Yasato was that it reminded him of the landscape he saw in his youth, when he
went to visit his relatives (Kimura 2013). The landscape of Yasato is dominated by gently
sloping hills covered with wild tree growth that is evocative of the image of the furusato,
the homeland (Miyawaki and Box 2006:63). Indeed, many of those interviewed referred to
the satoyama landscape as a key motivating factor. Agriculture, then, can be understood in
terms that go beyond the simplistic notion of agriculture as a way of producing food.
Besides producing food and fiber, agriculture creates joint benefits such as landscapes,

50
biodiversity, cultural heritage and viable rural communities. Such non-food outputs are
the roots of multifunctionality, and such benefits are beyond the private domainthey are
important features from agriculture to sustain the rural countryside (Brouwer 2004:1).The
prominent ecologist Akira Miyawaki explains the different benefits that we are getting
from agriculture.
Healthy ecosystems support many organisms, including many
we do not see, such as decomposer microbes in the soil. Among other
benefits to humans, healthy ecosystems provide food and other
materials, cleanse and manage water, buffer climatic extremes, and
foster aesthetic values, Co-existing with nature requires awareness of
these valuable ecosystem services
(Miyawaki and Box 2006:212).

Other positive multifunctions performed by agriculture include a reduction of
pressures on urban areas, reduced pollution, congestion, crime and unhygienic living
conditions (Brouwer 2004:302). It is worth noting the contributions that a sustainable
form of agriculture makes, and take it into account when trying to gauge the value of
agriculture instead of relying on the simplistic yardstick of production in monetary values.
Indeed, a simplistic concentration on quantities produced leads to agricultural methods
which are located squarely in the third quadrant. Here, specialization is more in demand
than multifunctionality, for the simple reason that it leads to a greater economic reward in
the short term. Specialization is a strategy that allows farmers to buy only certain kinds of
equipment and refine their knowledge in one area. It is a strategy that can be profitable7
(Garkovich 1995:140). Specialization of this type is agriculture as business, and is in sharp
contrast to agriculture as a way of life (hyakusho gurashi). Pollan remarks on the
shortcomings of specialization. Specialization is undeniably a powerful social and

51
economic force. And yet it is also debilitating. It breeds helplessness, dependence, and
ignorance, and, eventually, it undermines any sense of responsibility (Pollan 2013:19).

The JAS Mark
The Organics Promotion Law (Yuuki Nougyou Suishin Hou) was passed on
89,889 ha December 2006, and with it began the implementation of the JAS Organics
Mark. Based on extensive research of laws concerning organics in other countries, notably
the U.S and the E.U, and conforms to the recommendations of the Codex Alimentarius
Commission, one of the leading authorities on consumer protection and international
agricultural trade. Until 2000, there was no legal definition of organic products in Japan:
observance of the 1992 Guidelines on Sustainable Agriculture issued by the MAFF was
voluntary and independent organic certification was not required. It is worth clarifying that
thatYuuki Shokuhin, the equivalent of organic food in Japanese, means a food product
that contains low or no chemicals added in the production process, and thus it is not limited
to organically grown and processed products but can also include other categories of
products (Morgera, Caro, and Duran 2012:250). These other categories refer to
differences in the level of chemical pesticides and/or fertilizers employed: if they are used
within the prescribed amounts, they can qualify for organics status.
Although it worked to help create a system that provided certified and trustworthy
organic products, it led to a highly regulated market, with a lot of paperwork involved for
any farmer interested in going through the certification process. In addition, the
certification process was not a one-time event; it required annual updates and the
submission of detailed plans regarding information such as crops to be grown and seeds
used. In short, it reduced organic agriculture to a bureaucratic process: JAS is limited to the
production aspects of organic farming, and is thus unable to capture its essence. This was
fiercely opposed by farmers like Kakei, who asserted that organic agriculture was

52
something much more, and that the JAS did not question the geography of the farm,
making it possible for foreign grown organics to come into Japan. As of April 2013,
more than 1,768,033 ha of land cultivated under JAS standards was in foreign countries,
with around 80% of the certified land classified as orchards. In comparison, a mere 9,889
ha of land within Japan was certified, with 50% of the certified land listed as vegetables
and other annuals. There are currently around 4000 households who have JAS certification,
while around 8000 households claim that they are using agricultural practices, bringing the
total number of organic farmers to 12,000 in total. This number means that people who are
involved in organic agriculture are 0.47% of the total number of households involved in
agriculture (Nishio 2011).The total amount of food that they produce is around 0.35% of
the total product of Japan.
The JAS mark is ultimately a symbol of trust, one which many opt to bypass by
reaching out directly to their own customers. But it is not the organic farmers who are
doing something wrong, argues Uehara. The onus of proving ones credentials should fall
on those who are sacrificing future food sovereignty and endangering the health of the
ecosystems, the consumers, and the producers. It should be the conventional farmers who
undergo certification, with proper indication of what pesticides, what fertilizers and what
chemical additives go into the process of creating the product. The only problem, he notes
wryly, is that he is in the minority 1% speaking out against the majority, the rest of the
conventional farmers.







53
Chapter 6: Why Farm?


The previous sections have looked at the various arguments surrounding
sustainable agriculture and conventional agriculture, drawing on insights of the farmers to
help explain the various aspects of what a more sustainable form of agriculture will look
like. The following sections will look at the hyakusho themselves and explore what
motivates them, and what they think the ideal society should look like.

Motivation
Two of humanitys greatest sages, Buddha in the Eastern
tradition and Aristotle in the Western tradition, counseled us wisely
about humanitys innate tendency to chase transient illusions rather
than to keep our minds focused on deeper, long-term sources of well-
being. Both urged us to keep a middle path, to cultivate moderation
and virtue in our personal behavior and attitudes despite the allures
of extremes
(Sachs 2011:9)

In practice, that is to say, in everyday life, then, our ethical abilities bid us to
address those problems we can impact with decisions made in our personal lives. ...Doing
nothing is not really an option, since this choice effectively answers the question with the
narrowness of an egotistical "I am going to care only about myself" (Waldau 2013:305).
Small-scale farming in the present day and age presents a financial problem to the
hyakusho. Since earning enough through agriculture is often not realistic, many hyakusho
rely on additional sources of income. Uehara for instance, is a certified architect, a

54
columnist and illustrator. Sugiyama often assists his neighbors in house-building, earning
much-needed cash (Sugiyama 2013). Sometimes, their wives work outside the farm. IIda
Kojis wife Kanako is an artisan working with ceramics, while Ueharas wife Wakana is
skilled in languages and does freelance translation work. Kakei notes that there is no
shame in having a job other than agriculture; it is more vital that newcomers increase, and
views the governments goal of fostering more full-time farmers as being disingenuous.
But why then, In the face of such financial difficulties, do the farmers persist? Sakamoto
admits that farming isnt worth the effort when calculated in monetary terms (Wari ni
awanai). But, he goes on to explain, this is exactly what one is freed from through working
on the farm, the need to calculate everything by how much money it makes. Farm work for
many of the farmers I interviewed represents small steps away from the reflex of
calculating monetary profit and loss. It becomes a sort of training in acquiring other ways
of measuring the value of certain work, or of evaluating it. This is something that seems
repugnant to a modern society which seeks to make everything as efficient as possible.
Having different scales to measure different things causes various problems and leads to
uncertainty, zones of grayness. It even enables people to enjoy 'work' and to dissolve the
lines between work and play.
Another term that appeared frequently was taru wo shiru or knowing the limits
to ones desires. A shortened form of ware tada taru wo shiru, it is an important Zen
saying that can be translated as I know what just enough is (Brown 2009). Another
thing Sakamoto admires greatly about Edo Japan is the idea of shisso (frugality or
austerity), as a virtue.
Tanoshii (enjoyable). Sakamoto feels that the actions of Taro Yamamoto (Arita
2012), while note-worthy, exemplify the movement mindset which fails to address
whether an activity is enjoyable or not. Muri shite wa tsuzukanai- doing something that
requires sacrifices does not last. By not pausing to wonder whether an activity can be

55
continued for life or not, movements endanger themselves, being caught up in the heat of
the moment. A key difference in comparison to other movements lies in the fact that
organic agriculture is a livelihood: there are lives at stake. One cannot simply drop it and
move on, as with movements. It is not something one does in ones spare time. The key,
Sakamoto feels, lies in making agriculture more attractive. Ordinary people will not do
something that is too hard, or is accompanied by too much hardship. Kakei says that in
retrospect, one of the things he regrets is the stubbornness of his youth and his not having
experienced living as a farmer which led him to tell people to overcome the hardships of a
life lived on the land through sheer power of will. No person in her right mind would
choose a life that was full of troubles and hardships.
One of the strongest motivators for the farmers I interviewed is a vision of a more
just and sustainable society. Victor Frankl observes thatMan does not behave morally
for the sake of having a good conscience but for the sake of a cause to which he commits
himself, or for a person whom he loves, or for the sake of his God (Frankl 1962:101102).
For many, the ethics of the life of a small-holder farmer is a powerful motive. Agrarianism
is a problematic concept on its own, and as shown in the literature review, it may be co-
opted by pseudo-organics or even conventional farmers. Margaret Gray observes that
Agrarianism has served various and often contradictory ends.
The ideal has even pitted farmers of different types against each
other by offering a flexible rhetoric to anyone laying claim to it. In
this way, it has served landowners both large and small, subsistence
farmers, anti sprawl environmentalists, utopian communalists, and
even farmworkers themselves.those who have benefited most from
the ideology are the largest, profit-centered agricultural producers
(Gray 2013:22-23).

56
Agrarianism, therefore, has to be subject to the condition that it refers to small-
scale systems.

Children and Farming
The question of choosing which world we will leave to our
children invokes, but goes well beyond, our ethical natures- the
question is also, like so many family-related issues, deeply
personal. ... Making community is at once an ethical, personal, and
practical set of problems
(Waldau 2013:305).

With the ideal farmer being defined as a responsible steward for natural resources
for future generations, it comes as no surprise that ensuring a better future for their children
is another one of their prime motivators.
In a late night session of drinking, Sakamoto said that there are basically four
basic human needs he feels must be met: shoku(food) , neru(sleep) yaru (sexual urges) and
shison(progeny). He observed that living in cities does not allow for the fulfillment of most
of these needs, with most of the time devoted to work. Facilities specializing in childcare
in the metropolitan areas, especially Tokyo are straining under the pressure of too much
demand; high living costs also deter many people from having children. Children do not
know what their parents do for a living as well, as they usually cannot accompany their
parents to the workplace. On the other hand, small-holder farming usually allows for the
participation of any age and skill level. There is a lot to be done on the farm, and children
can see and experience first-hand what their parents do for a living. Furuno observes that
knowledge about sustainable knowledge and practices abounds in todays world, but that
all this information is ultimately artificial, useful but nonetheless different from knowledge

57
that is learnt naturally through all five senses (shizen jouhou). The latter form of
knowledge is learnt through ones experiences as a child, meaning that such knowledge
would have no chance of growing and turning into life-philosophies unless one is able to
move about freely and safely in the natural environment, something that is being made
increasingly impossible because of the use of chemicals and automation of many of the
tasks in the field (Furuno and Sato 2012:23). Fittingly, Furuno defines success in organic
farming as having vegetable and rice fields where children are free to move about
(2012:53) On the farm children have a freedom to roam and play that many urban children
rarely experience (Garkovich et al. 1995:57).
The children in any farming family are very important. When asked how they
measure success, farmers with children would not make use of any financial indicators,
instead saying that their children are the true indicator of their success. Ensuring a healthy
living environment for their children, both in physical and in mental terms, figures high on
their list of priorities. A life of farming often brings with it permanent and more family-like
relationships (Garkovich et al. 1995:60).The importance of children was manifest in many
different ways. Usually newcomers to the farming community, young couples would
struggle to be accepted as members. However, through their children, both husband and
wife are brought into contact with their neighbors as social barriers are lowered for
children.
Gazing at their children basking in the sun on a neighbors lawn, the Ueharas tell
me that some older members of their community drop by with seasonal vegetables, little
treats from the local store, or just share some anecdotes, anything to interact with the
children. Kodomotachi ni genki wo moraini! (to get some happiness from the children) is
a phrase that is often used. The presents of seasonal vegetables are often substantial, so
much so that the Ueharas rarely buy vegetables at the supermarket (Uehara 2013). Raising
children is no simple task. The reliance upon family members as well as on those who

58
form the community thus becomes imperative, but it is often a source of pleasure for all
(Garkovich et al. 1995:57). Parents have to think what is in the interest of the child, and
unless one is willing to have enormous patience with them, it is not possible to deal with
them in a proper manner. Sakamoto feels that many young people lack the skills and
patience to be parents in todays world. Making an allusion to genpuku, a rite of passage in
ancient Japan that conferred adult status on the individual, he argued that without a proper
appreciation of the responsibilities that accompanied such rites of passage, many young
adults fail to understand and fulfill their duties. The spirit of Bushido, he feels, has been
lost. Farmers without children of their own also cite a slightly altered version: their success
depends on whether they can leave a vision for an alternative life, an alternative that is
becoming increasingly hard to take simply because there are not enough practitioners
(Kimura 2013).
At the same time, children are the main source of worry for their parents. While
farming households are able to provide for the most of the needs of their children,
education becomes a thorny issue. Given the high costs of education in Japan, it is
primarily worry for whether they will be able to provide for their grown up children that
weighs heavy on the minds of their parents. Some of the farmers also emphasized the fact
that they did not want their children to become farmers out of inertia, but rather by really
aspiring to be one.
Ultimately, Sakamoto feels that the independence that meeting ones needs
through agriculture allows one to question and confront the status quo. It forces the
individual to seek out meaning in ones life, to create joy in work and define the good life.
And through the flow of agricultural products and inputs, to stumble upon and discover
uncomfortable truths which lead to uncomfortable questions. Without undergoing this
process, he feels that many are losing the will to live by falling into an existential vacuum.
(T)here are various masks and guises under which the existential vacuum appears.

59
Sometimes the frustrated will to meaning is vicariously compensated for by a will to power,
including the most primitive form of the will to power, the will to money (Frankl
1962:109).
On the opposite end of the spectrum to the hyakusho is the consumer, the
malleable individual, bereft of any bonds (Bauman 2013). Giddens observes that the
postmodern order is one that privileges consumption rather than production. The consumer
society is one of rapidly changing fashion, the constant creation and obsolescence of goods,
and a society without history (Bonner 1997:153). This is the character the practitioners of
the markets are able and willing to recognize and accommodate is Homo consumens - the
lonely, self-concerned and self-centered shopper (Kahneman 2012:69). And consumens is
none other than the sole character that economic theorists regard as deserving of attention,
because this is the one credited with keeping the economy on course and lubricating the
wheel of economic growth. This entity is Homo oeconomicus- the lonely, self-concerned
and self-centered economic actor pursuing the best deal and guided by rational choice
(Kahneman 2012:69). Jeffrey Sachs explains the evolution of the consumer:
For more than a century, incessant waves of commercial
advertising, public relations campaigns, and official propaganda
have remolded our psyches to want more and more consumption. The
technologies of mass persuasion have become ever more
encompassing. ..Now we are fully digital and wired, multimedia,
spending hours each day in front of many different kinds of screens
that are sending nonstop messages to buy, spend, borrow and buy
some more. These messages are driven by a highly professional and
highly effective public relations, marketing and advertising industry
(Sachs 2011:137).


60
Modernity
Kakei is critical of modernity. In modern times, and particularly for those who
live in major cities, many people seem to have lost a purpose in life. The meaning of their
work is drowned beneath ever-increasing specialization, and they spend their days at their
desks adding figures and writing words in order to receive a monthly salary which they
then spend on the various necessities of living. There are also those who are involved only
in sports, or incessantly play games. How is this made possible when we take into
consideration the livelihood of the peasant of yore? This is a question that surely rests in
the deepest recesses of ones thoughts, a question that is driven there and is made to remain
there by an abstract attribution to progress in society, without a chance for proper
reflection or deliberation (Kakei and Shirato 2009:2425).
He made a reference to the case of India, where progress meant the casting away
of traditional knowledge. Being a self-declared disciple of Gandhi he had adopted the
Mahatmas position towards modernity. For Gandhi, modernity was a movement of
forgetfulness where secular, scientific urban India dismissed its roots in the village
community. Progress meant a move away from the loincloth and the bullock cart. More
particularly, (the Indian modernist) had a theory for eliminating poverty but little
understanding of pain and suffering. Poverty could be eliminated but pain and suffering
needed to be lived out and understood. Not all pain was a disease or discomfort to be
eliminated. If it were, altruism, restraint and asceticism, in fact love would have little to
play in the emerging consumerist society (Raghuramaraju 2006:206).
Sakamoto commented that the ingredients for a good life include things of beauty,
a rhythm in tune with nature, and family. He elaborated upon the concept of things of
beauty (utsukushii mono), saying that anything we make ourselves is precious and
beautiful by virtue of our having made it, giving it intrinsic value. Self-sufficiency in this
sense can be more satisfactory (nattoku dekiru) as well. What he was saying was in stark

61
contrast to the consumer society that we live in today, described by Sakamoto as an endless
treadmill that is a key precept of this More! More! Cult (more more kyo). Instead, he
counts himself amongst those who practice the Enough! Enough! Philosophy (taru taru
kyo) In addition to endless needs, Sakamoto attributes Shuudatsu, or exploitation, to the
Japanese quest for benri (convenience). This quest is the stuff of legends; Japan is
renowned worldwide for its innovations accumulated in the never-ending pursuit of
convenience. This goal, the need to make life more comfortable and convenient, was
instrumental in Westernizing Japan, he feels. Change came with absurd ease, with most of
the important questions like human rights and colonialism left unanswered and unattended
to. Morphing into a currency-driven economy, it was driven along by the powerful illusion
that a life without money is impossible. Re-ru ni noranaito kurashite ikenai It feels
impossible to live without conforming to the rails laid down by society. Miyawaki also
observes that if we simply want to make our present lives more luxurious, convenient, and
gratifying, then our materialistic way of thinking should be just the thing. If we want to
survive and grow into the future, however, we must realize that our planets resources are
finite and that now is the time to make some critical decisions about the future of life on
spaceship Earth (Miyawaki and Box 2006:182).

Who is the Peasant?
The subsistence farmer is a familiar face in many societies, and is often referred to
as a peasant. According to Lewellen, peasant is one of the oldest and most durable
classifications in existence. He contends the anthropological view never really strayed far
from the popular view: Peasants were traditional peoples who were rooted in the land
(2002:223) For most of history, they composed the majority in society and it is only in the
past few generations that this has changed. Indeed, peasant masses, as if all that
mattered was their sheer numerical weight, were presumed to represent the soul of the

62
nation, the carrier of its spirit, and its future (Scott 2012:3). But the image of the small-
scale farmer as being left behind by society was also strong. A basic problem with the
concept of peasant is that it never quite meant in reality what the dictionaries say it
means, namely, someone who lives off the land by intensive agriculture(as opposed to
horticulture) at a relatively low level of technological development ( as opposed to modern
farming)(Lewellen, 2002:222).
In effect, this understanding of agriculture trapped it in the past, in direct contrast
to the modernizing urban center (Ohnuki-Tierney 1993:122). It was contended that
agriculture was the foundation of the Japanese nation and that its villages preserved the
rustic, simple ways of the past (Ohnuki-Tierney, 1993:122), in the process maintaining the
body of Japan that was being steadily weakened by the city. The intellectuals in the Meiji
period exalted the simplicity and purity of the Japanese countryside and its farmers, but
regarded them, nonetheless, as country bumpkins (Ohnuki-Tierney, 1993:121).Farmers
were generally looked down upon as being stuck in an undesirable occupation. A bemused
farmer recalls, how, bent over from some weeding, he heard a woman tell her child to stop
misbehaving if he wanted to avoid becoming like a farmer (anna fuu ni naccha ikenai yo).
Farming was, and often still is, seen as a waste of college education (Garkovich et al.
1995:70). One of my interviewees mentioned the apprehension he felt when starting off on
a career in farming after gaining a college degree: it is like a leap of faith. Indeed, most of
the graduates of agricultural sciences end up as researchers or professors.
Kakei terms what he is doing not nougyou(agriculture) but rather hyakusho
gurashi(peasant life) (2009:12); others prefer the term jikyuu jisoku no kurashi (self-
sufficient life) or nouteki kurashi(agrarian life). The main point is that people are keen on
differentiating themselves from agriculture that is profit-oriented and instead focus on
farming which helps support lifestyles. The word hyakusho is used by farmers to refer to

63
themselves, and this word is often translated as peasant, but this term remains inadequate
to capture the remarkable diversity and ideas that the hyakusho have.
The recent attempts and promises of the government which seek to make
agriculture more profitable are also questionable. While seeming to respect the role of the
farmer within society, closer examination makes it seem their economic or consumerist
identities rather than their identities as members of rural communities and cultures that is
being respected (Furukawa 2007:9). This makes it apparent that farmers are not identified
as members of a local community worthy of being preserved in its own right, but rather as
economic units capable of rationally maximizing costs and benefits (2007:910). On the
other hand, agrarian citizenship is a concept that tries to bring the community into the
picture. Agrarian citizenship ... recognizes the roles of both nature and society in the
continuing political, economic and cultural evolution of agrarian society (Wiebe et al.
2010:95). It seeks the active participation of rural actors in the radical resistance to the
expansion of market capitalism. Its goals include not only the reclamation of a
humanistic community but also protection against the continued decimation of social
and ecological spaces (2010:95).

Conclusions
The higher and more profitable a mans position, the more
unstable it becomes, and the more terrible and dangerous a fall from
it for him, and the more firmly the man believes in the existing order,
and therefore with the more ease of conscience can such a man
perpetrate cruel and wicked acts, as though they were not in his own
interest, but for the maintenance of that order'
(Tolstoy and Garnett 2011:220).


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This thesis has looked at the various aspects of contemporary agriculture in Japan
from the viewpoint of the farmers, and has attempted to understand why they farm. In
uncovering how they understand their profession and how they connect to society, I have
provided their account of organic agriculture in Japan. This thesis also locates this move
for a more sustainable form of agriculture within the global movement towards food
sovereignty. The hyakusho does not need somebody to act as a spokesperson for her; she
just needs more people to understand why she does what she does. Hyakusho do not wish
for more remuneration, but instead for a realization of the ideals that they adhere to. As
Tolstoy wisely observed, the good cannot seize power, nor retain it; to do this men must
love power. And love of power is inconsistent with goodness; but quite consistent with the
very opposite qualities- pride, cunning, cruelty (Tolstoy and Garnett 2011:180). Here then,
lies the conundrum: is it possible to spread the ideals of the hyakusho, ideas of food
sovereignty without corrupting it by associating with power? Perhaps this question will
only be answered with time, as the children of the hyakusho grow up and are faced with
decisions on how to live their lives. Miyawaki suggests that the way of the hyakusho is the
only way forward. we must work and get our hands dirty. We need to follow an
ecological blueprint and design our settled landscapes using plant species from the original
natural vegetation. We need to move away from a culture oriented toward production and
consumption and meet our energy, food, and health-related needs more frugally, even if
this means a lifestyle that puts less emphasis on ease and comfort and sometimes requires
us to get by with less (Miyawaki and Box 2006:216). Whatever the future may hold, the
hyakusho will always be out in the fields, nurturing the life that sustains humanity.