Localization and Satoyama economy make the society happy

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Omi-merchants had a philosopy of Sanpo-yoshi, which means 3 way satisfaction. It consists of Urite-yoshi, Kaite-yoshi, and Seken-yoshi. Urite-yoshi means the seller is happy. Kaite-yoshi means the buyer is happy. Seken-yoshi means the society is happy.


The business model of Sanpo-yoshi is the model which makes you, as the seller, happy, as well as your customers and the society.


In the last post, I talked about one element of the business model that makes the society happy, which is making it small.


Another element I think needs in the business model of Seken-yoshi is to make it local. Many people including Helena Norberg-Hodge and Satish Kumar say that it is important to shift our economic system from global to local. The local economy is more environmentally friendly because we use less energy to transport goods. The local economy also circulates money within the community which sustains the economic activities in the area. In a globalized economic system, on the other hand, money is often taken out of the local community, to big cities such as Tokyo or New York where the headquarters of big franchise businesses are located.


In order to create a sustainable economic system, it is important to localize the system for many reasons. When you look at how we produce food, for instance, locally is better. Our present agricultural system based on monoculture is destroying the planet. When we plant single crop or vegetable in a large area of land, it stops the diversity of the ecosystem which has a self-sustaining power.



In Japanese, we have a word which symbolizes sustainability. That is Satoyama. Satoyama means an area which contains some mountains or forests, rice fields or vegetable fields, and residences. The area has self-sustaining power by circulating resources within. The mountains have the sources of a river which produces water to the rice fields. The trees can be used for building houses or furniture, and remaining wood can be used as firewood. Fallen leaves are used as fertilizers for rice fields and vegetable fields. Straws or rice bran from the rice fields after harvesting rice can be used as fertilizers, too. I included the residences in this ecosystem because humans can play a big role in this system of circulation. We frequently go to the mountains to cut trees or collect fallen leaves, and this human activity is crucial to sustaining the mountains. By cutting some trees, we create space in the forests to get sunlight in which helps smaller trees to grow. This circulation of one life to another sustains the ecosystem.


Japanese villages were all based in Satoyama in the past and they were all self-sufficient. Growing multiple species and a wide variety of crops at the same time and same place is better than monoculture and that can be more easily done in Satoyama. Therefore farming locally is more advisable and we need to shift from international division of labor to self-sustaining local farming. That applies to energy production and many other things, too. Thus by shifting to localized economy, we can have a more sustainable system.

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