Saturday, April 23, 2011

Slow in Japan: The Sloth Club

The Sloth Club logo, via their e-commerce site.
As I prepare for my trip to Japan (it's less than a month away now!), I've been reading a lot of blogs from there, and I ran across an absolute gem in Slow Japan. It's the English-language blog of The Sloth Club, a not-for-profit group formed in Tokyo in 1999 to promote the slow movement, sustainable living, a local living economy, and fair trade. The scope of their projects is impressively broad and ambitious for a group who say they strive to 'become the sloth'. Their members have organized many workshops with invited speakers (which seem to be usually promoted solely through their Japanese-language website and blog), participated in peace and antinuclear activism, organize voluntary blackouts to promote a slower lifestyle, published guidelines for slow business (essentially following the triple-bottom-line approach) and slow cafes, promoted conservation through the Hachidori Project, created a brilliant alternative currency system and a "Slow Business School", led slow-travel tours to other countries, promoted straw-bale building through a Slow Design study group, and created an intentional community called Yukkuri-mura in rural Fukuoka prefecture where participants live a han-nou han-x (half-agricultural, half-anything) lifestyle. Their Cafe Slow organic restaurant provides a community centre where some events are held, in addition to selling organic, green, and fair-trade products and books written by members of the Sloth Club. Recent events held by the club have included a conversation-cafe-style series on creating a slower post-3/11 world.

I absolutely LOVE this image they used to promote a recent orientation event for new volunteers.
I think it's magnificent that they've used sloths - instead of the usual snails and turtles - as their symbol of sustainable and slow living, especially given their fair-trade and conservation-project ties with Ecuador:
“The aim is to emulate some of the basic behaviors of the sloth,” in particular its “low-energy, cyclical, symbiotic and non-violent lifestyle.”

Sloth Club members at the 2010 Earth Day celebration in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo. Via.

Namake (alternative currency), via.
Some of their Slow Business articles also mention alternative currency called "zen", a nice wordplay on the yen.
Sloth Club member at a peace demonstration, via
The Hachidori Project logo uses the story of the hummingbird who carried a drop of water
to try to keep the forest from burning as a symbol to promote sustainable lifestyle choices. Via.
Sloth Club members at a huge anti-nuclear rally in Tokyo on 11 April 2011, via their Japanese-language blog.
via the SlowPhoto blog of a Sloth Club organizer - I think she's saying she took the photo in Jordan, but I can't be sure.

The Sloth Club's work has been profiled in Treehugger,'s It's Getting Hot In Here blog, Kyoto Journal, New Colonist, and Metropolis - but none of those articles are recent, and their work is spread across several websites of varying translation quality, so I thought it might be helpful to have a recent synopsis of their activities in a single blog post. 

Inspiring stuff! I can't wait to check out Cafe Slow while I'm in Tokyo.

1 comment:

  1. Inside Japan have a great blog post about the Slow Life Manifesto that's being used to market life outside the cities: