Japanese Trends Worth Watching: De-ownership, Demonetization & De-materialism


Photo via: Flickr/tomo908us

It's hard to see Japan's sunny side of affairs beyond the red pool of blood in Taiji's cove. It's currently in the middle of peak dolphin killing season. When I read the following piece in Resurgence by Junko Edahiro, a Japanese environmental activist and journalist, however, a tiny glimmer of hope arose.

She reports on three cultural eco-trends brewing up (albeit quietly) in her modern-day Japan that if true, I think, might lend to "gaiatsu," a Japanese term for outside pressure causing inside pressure to change. One of the tactics Louie Psihoyos, filmmaker of The Cove, believes can end the country's dolphin slaughter.Trend Number One: De-ownership
The car, which Edahiro calls,"once a must-have social status symbol" in Japan is now considered "not cool" by many accounts of her interactions with high school and university students. Once having proposed the idea of car sharing back in 2000 via her environmental e-magazine, it was met with adverse replies from Japanese readers not keen on the idea of uncleanliness often associated with shared objects.

Now, car sharing services are spotted running alongside Tokyo's main railway, with new ones frequently popping up. Similarly, used books, CD rentals, house shares and fashion swaps are beginning to dot the consumer culture landscape. For many it seems, the idea of new, is becoming old.

Trend Number Two: De-materialism
As similar studies are proving stateside, happiness in Japan, according to Edahiro, is re-defining itself. Money can't necessarily buy it anymore. Material goods like clothing, real estate, and gizmos are being replaced with soul-satisfying relationships, time outdoors, agriculture, and social events like gathering with neighbors over candle-lit meals.

Trend Number Three: Demonetization
Edahiro has recognized a shift from full-time work (that sounds similar to the over-worked, over-stressed 9-7 jobs here in the states) to part-time lifestyles that allow time for growing food for the family. Instead of being a full time writer for example, one might be a part-time farmer, part-time writer. The tides could be shifting to a "work to live" rather than "live to work" mentality.

Edahiro's observed trends certainly leave high hopes. As she concludes, each could potentially dent "business models seeking profit simply by selling increasing numbers of products." This potentially green grassroots movement doesn't seem the buying type.

But as Edahiro also states, the movement though growing is quiet and the newspapers aren't quick to report on such headlines. Sounds similar to the silence surrounding the cove, yes?

May gaiatsu prevail!

More on Japan:
Japan Will Ignore Ban on Bluefin Tuna, Says The Fish Isn't That Endangered
Japan Accused of Bribing Nations to be Pro-Whaling
Japan Kills Sea Shepherd Anti Whaling Ship. For Scientific Research?

Tags: Conspicuous Consumption | Dematerialization | Dolphins | Japan

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