In January 2008, I began seriously thinking about starting a self-sufficient life after reading The One Straw Revolution. Nonetheless, I had no knowledge of growing food, and I had to learn a farming method somewhere.
I had two options; one was to attend a Permaculture course at The Permaculture Center Japan in Fujino, the other was to join Marugasaki Natural Farming Group in Saitama.
At that time I was living in Kunitachi in Tokyo, so Fujino wasn’t so far, and it seemed to be an interesting place. There was Steiner school there as well, and known as an alternative town. The first Transition initiative in Japan would begin there in 2009.
Marugasaki Natural Farming Group was located in Higashi Omiya in Saitama prefecture, and it was a little further away. It was a group studying Kawaguchi style natural farming. Each member was allotted a small rice field and a vegetable garden, and you were supposed to practice growing rice and vegetables there. Once a month you get together and learn the method from two leaders who had previously studied under Yoshikazu Kawaguchi in Akame Natural Farming School.
In the Permaculture course, you receive a series of weekend workshops throughout the year and you not only learn how to grow food but many other aspects of leading a self-sufficient life. I knew a few people who attended the course and they said it was very useful.
Anyway, in order to get more information, I went to the first meeting of the Natural Farming group in February. There I was told that I had to decide whether to join or not on that day because they were allotting a garden to each member that day and they couldn’t wait since the farming would begin in a few weeks. Mind you, they weren’t trying to sell me anything because it was free to join. They just had many people who were interested in joining the group and they had limited space to allot.
So I decided to join on the spot. Well, it was free after all-haha. I was very attracted to Kawaguchi style natural farming since it was the closest to the Fukuoka method and the fact that we could learn how to grow rice as well. I also liked that we had our own garden to practice. I knew it was the best way to learn.
I ended up going there for two years, and it changed my life completely.