What is Slow? Why Slow Japan? Where can I find materials in English?
Welcome to the website of SLOW JAPAN.
This website aims to introduce you to the Japanese “Slow Living Movement.”
In July 1999, ten or so people got together in small meeting room in Tokyo and started the Sloth Club. It became a catalyst of the so-called “Slow Life” movement in Japan. It’s creed is “slow is beautiful”. The co-founder of the Sloth Club, Shinichi Tsuji, published the book “Slow is Beautiful” in 2001 and it became a bible for the movement. In such a fast-paced country, many people first didn’t take them seriously. Some people laughed (some even got angry!) at the club members because it didn’t sound practical at all (and besides, how can a movement called “Slow” contribute to the economy?!) But 10 years later, the Sloth Club still exists and the word “slow” has become widely recognized. Now our members grin with mixed feelings when they see the advertisements of fast-paced conventional businesses using the word “Slow” as a marketing term (although of course there are serious business people who have tried to adopt slow concepts into their businesses and are doing a wonderful job).
Slow can be understood to mean alternative, sustainable, ecological, local, and happy. Slow means “to connect”. Connection between people and people, people and nature, north and south, right and left, urban and rural, and more.
In last ten years, we have witnessed many positive changes all over Japan. The concept of slow has made an impact on many aspects of the society. The movement, for example, encouraged people to start acknowledging the richness of rural life and communities. For a long time, rural areas were labeled as outdated and tacky. “We have nothing here” was a phrase often heard in the countryside. However, now both city dwellers and country people are increasingly admiring local traditional foods and farming techniques that can only be found in certain areas. New types of businesses were founded, which we call “slow businesses”. These businesses are trying to make society more sustainable and ecological by developing new ways of making money, providing jobs, and contributing to local life. Many like-minded groups have also formed to address issues as diverse as nuclear disarmament, peace between Japan and Korea, decentralization, and pollution. The movement as a whole is creating a new sustainable and ecological culture.
It is a noteworthy thing that many individuals who doesn’t necessarily belong to particular organizations or conscious companies have initiated their own slow movement. Signing up for allotment gardens, making Japanese traditional preserved foods at home, buying organic and fair trade products, turning off the electricity and having a candle night, or simply slowing down in work, relationships, and life. Inspired by Paul Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson’s book, we realized that we are part of Japan’s Cultural Creative movement.
Although many new activities were begun, many of us found that “slow” is not a new idea. All around Japan, there are local traditions of playing, of wasting time. We can incorporate them in a new trend against our efficient, fast-paced civilization.
Yes, Japan is still one of the fastest countries. Many businesspeople still dream that the Japanese economy will regain its prior strength and power. There is still severe competition among young people to attend prestigious schools and get jobs at Fortune 500 companies. However, more and more people are becoming aware that something is wrong with our society and that we have to do something to change it. The uniqueness of the Japanese slow movement is that we don’t claim to have any answers. Instead of just walking from point A to B, the slow living movement encourages wandering and considering the impacts of our decisions. Through this wandering, an alternative way of thinking can be born. We see a Japan that is gradually shifting towards a more sustainable, ecological, and happy way, in a word, a “slow way.”
Here is another Japan!
Who is This Site For?
If you are a visitor to Japan, please participate in a Slow event or support Slow businesses. You are always welcome.
If you are a resident of Japan or Japanese citizen who speaks English, please join us and contribute your ideas and talents to our cause. We are partnering with groups all over Japan, and would greatly appreciate your support in translating more of their materials into English and other languages – and inviting your neighbors to live slowly.
If you live in another English-speaking country, we welcome partnership efforts with groups that share our goals. With the three-fingered “Sloth peace sign,” let’s form “Slow treaties” with like-minded citizen activists and slow businesses all over the world.
How to Contact Us
To contact any of the groups profiled on this site, please contact them directly using the information and/or contact people provided.