This book, more than anything else, is about a mentality that pervaded Japanese society then and which can serve as a beacon for our own efforts to achieve sustainability now. This is a book of stories, depictions of vanished ways of life told from the point of view of a contemporary observer, depictions which are based on extensive research and presented as narrative. The stories tell how people lived in Japan some two hundred years ago, during the late Edo Period, a period when traditional technology and culture were at the peak of development and realisation, just before the country opened itself to the West and joined the ranks of the industrialised nations. They tell of a people who overcame many of the identical problems that confront us today - issues of energy, water, materials, food, and population - and who forged from these formidable challenges a society that was conservation-minded, waste-free, well-housed and well-fed, and economically robust, and which has bequeathed to us admirable and enduring standards of design and beauty. Readers will gain insight into what it is like to live in a sustainable society, not so much in terms of specific technical approaches, but in how larger concerns can guide daily decisions and how social and environmental contexts should shape our courses of action. These stories are intended to illustrate the environmentally related problems that the people in both rural and urban areas faced, the conceptual frameworks in which they viewed these problems, and how they went about finding solutions. This book offers a remarkable look at how traditional Japanese were able to find meaning and satisfaction in a life in which the individual took 'just enough' from the world and not more. Detailed drawings of life and technology in the Edo Period accompany the text.
"Just Enough is valuable as a mentality, as a framework for acting in the world..." --Worldchanging.com
"Brown's elegant and accessible text with its lucid illustrations make this a wonderful companion for students and professionals in the fields of design, civil engineering, farming, construction, or Japanese history, or any person interested in leaving a more delicate footprint on the planet." --ForeWord Magazin
"Just Enough should be required reading for anyone who wants to help make today's world more sustainable. Read it, please." --Sarah Susanka, Architect and author of The Not So Big House series and The Not So Big Life
"Azby Brown's book, using excellent examples from Edo-period Japan, proves that we have surrounded ourselves with many things that we don't need to live sustainably and happily. This is an important warning for the future, one that should make us all stop and think." --Shigeru Ban, Architect, recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Medal in Archit
Azby Brown was raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. He studied architecture and sculpture at Yale, graduating in 1980. In 1985, he received a grant from the Japanese Ministry of Education to do research at the Department of Architecture of the University of Tokyo, where he received a master's degree. He is the author of The Genius of Japanese Carpentry (KI 1995), Small Spaces (KI 1996) and The Very Small Home (KI 2005). He became an associate professor of architectural design at the Kanazawa Institute of Technology in 1995, where he has also accepted a position in the Department of Media Informatics. In 2003, he opened the Future Design Institute in Tokyo, and currently serves as director.