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Just Enough is a book of stories, depictions of vanished ways of life told from the point of view of a contemporary observer. The stories tell how people lived in Japan some two hundred years ago, during the late Edo 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 industrialized nations. They tell of people overcoming many of the identical problems that confront us today--issues of energy, water, materials, food and population--and forging a society that was conservationminded, waste-free, well-housed, well-fed and economically robust. From these stories, 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 rather, in terms of how larger concerns can guide daily decisions and how social and environmental contexts 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. Included at the end of each section are a number of lessons in which the author elaborates on what Edo Period life has to offer us in the global battle to reverse environmental degradation. Topics covered include everything from transportation, interconnected systems, and waste reduction to the need for spiritual centers in the home.
Azby Brown, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana is the director of KIT Future Design Institute in Tokyo. He studied architecture and sculpture at Yale College, graduating in 1980, and entered the Department of Architecture of the University of Tokyo in 1985 under a grant from the Japanese Ministry of Education. He received his master's degree in 1988 and completed his PhD research in 1995. He is the author of The Genius of Japanese Carpentry (1995), Small Spaces (1996), The Japanese Dream House (2001), and The Very Small Home (2005), all published by Kodansha International. He became an associate professor of architectural design at the Kanazawa Institute of Technology in 1995, and currently holds a position there in the Department of Media Informatics.