Transportation / Mobility

February 12, 2003


Kakegawa Declares Itself a "Slow Life City"

Keywords: Food Local government Transportation / Mobility 

Shizuoka Prefecture's Kakegawa City a town of 80,000 residents located south of Tokyo, launched a refreshing initiative by declaring November to be "Slow Life Month," aiming to become a city that promotes a comfortable lifestyle and relaxed state of mind. With a total of 131 events held during the month, this is the first such large-scale event in Japan under the concept of a leisurely life, or what they call "Slow Life."

Kakegawa City has declared itself a "Slow Life City," outlining eight principles for city-planning and the lifestyle for the twenty-first century (see below).

The local government of Kakegawa was one of the first municipalities in Japan to actively promote city planning through lifelong learning. The vision of a Slow Life City is considered as a basic plan for the city's future direction, but some questions remain, however, to implement it. For example: How can they bring the concept of "Slow Life" into shape in the context of the local administration? How can they get support from local businesses to cut working hours and increase holidays, both indispensable to achieve "slower" lifestyles?

In spite of challenges, the Slow Life movement to pursue satisfaction and quality of life, with comfort rather than economic and material prosperity, is spreading nationwide through events such as these. The heads of seven local governments, including Kakegawa, established the "Coalition of Slow Life Cities." In 2003, a "Slow Life Month" will be held by Tajimi City (Gifu Prefecture) in February, the town of Yasuduka (Niigata Prefecture) in May, and Gifu City (Gifu Prefecture) in August.

(From the "Slow Life Declaration in Kakegawa")

In the late twentieth century, Japan valued and pursued the "fast, cheap, convenient, and efficient" life that brought us economic prosperity. However, it also caused problems such as dehumanization, social ills, and environmental pollution. We would like to move forward, with the slogan "Slow Life," to achieve "slow, relaxed and comfortable" lifestyles, and shift from a society of mass production and mass consumption, to a society that is not hectic and does cherish our possessions and things of the heart.

Humans live about 700,800 hours (assuming an average life expectancy of 80 years), of which we spend about 70,000 hours working (assuming we work for 40 years). The remaining 630,000 hours are spent on other activities, such as eating, studying, and leisure, including 230,000 hours sleeping. Until now, people often focused their lives on these 70,000 hours of labor, devoting their lives to their companies. However, with the "slow life" principles, we would now like to pay more attention to the 630,000 hours outside of work to achieve true happiness and peace of mind.

The practice of the "Slow Life" involves the following eight themes:

SLOW PACE: We value the culture of walking, to be fit and to reduce traffic accidents.
SLOW WEAR: We respect and cherish our beautiful traditional costumes, including woven and dyed fabrics, Japanese kimonos and Japanese night robes (yukata).
SLOW FOOD: We enjoy Japanese food culture, such as Japanese dishes and tea ceremony, and safe local ingredients.
SLOW HOUSE: We respect houses built with wood, bamboo, and paper, lasting over one hundred or two hundred years, and are careful to make things durably, and ultimately, to conserve our environment.
SLOW INDUSTRY: We take care of our forests, through our agriculture and forestry, conduct sustainable farming with human labor, and ultimately spread urban farms and green tourism.
SLOW EDUCATION: We pay less attention to academic achievement, and create a society in which people can enjoy arts, hobbies, and sports throughout our lifetimes, and where all generations can communicate well with each other.
SLOW AGING: We aim to age with grace and be self-reliant throughout our lifetimes.
SLOW LIFE: Based on the philosophy of life stated above, we live our lives with nature and the seasons, saving our resources and energy.

Posted: 2003/02/12 09:38:45 AM
Japanese version