Slow down and smell the simplicity


Founder of the Sloth Club, Keibo Oiwa advocates living in harmony with Mother Nature. Photo: Keibo Oiwa

In the Eastern world the name Keibo Oiwa (otherwise known by the pen name Tsuji Shin’ichi) is synonymous with slowness and beauty.

The Japanese anthropologist, activist and author is the founder of The Sloth Club, a Slow Life NGO advocating a regression to nothingness through lectures and workshops on social and environmental issues.

His book, Slow is Beautiful: Culture as Slowness, became the bible for the Slow Japan Movement. The book encourages a new way of cultural thinking, acknowledges the richness of rural life and aims to make society more sustainable and ecological through local work.

Visiting the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival in Indonesia next week, Keibo will discuss how life in Japan needs to shift in light of the 2011 Fukushima radiation disaster.

“I am very much looking forward to visiting Ubud and share some Slow Life philosophies,” he said.

“Fukushima was a reminder that resources are a rare commodity and if we can learn to enjoy only a little, that is a function of great wisdom and humanity’s future hangs on this.”

He is also set to deliver a lecture called ‘Slow, Small, Simple which will focus on humanity’s necessary downward shift from “excess” to “just enough” in the age of late capitalism and the race to get faster, bigger and stronger.

“We need to regress in order to progress, turning the mantra of ‘Distraction, Production and Consumption into Smaller, Simpler and Slower,” he said. “The basic principle of redesign is shrinking.”

This year the theme for the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival is Saraswati: the Goddess of Wisdom and Knowledge, which makes Keibo’s visit that much more anticipated. What resonated the most in Keibo’s ideas was that the world is at a turning point and the structural and economic ideals rooted in capitalism and religion are on their way out, while the way of the future is much slower and simpler.

“There is thing called global commons: air, water and time. Nobody owns it but everybody has access to it. The only one of those we can truly control is time, and we translate that into money, which is a waste.” It is this principal philosophy that has kept Keibo’s Slow Japan Movement growing for the last fifteen years and why he is such an appropriate speaker at this year’s festival.

“Every country is sharing the same problems: bad governments, corporate laundering, etc. The collapse of old systems is not only inevitable but it is already happening,” he said. “Mother Nature is the mother of all economies, the source of all real wealth.”

In addition to delivering a lecture and participating in discussions, Keibo will also be present at the screening of his two visionary films, Vandana Shiva: Embracing the Seed of Life and Kawaguchi Yoshikazu in Natural Farming.


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