About TUP: a message from Kai
Thank you for finding your way to this website
Thank you internet for making this connection possible
Thank you Earth for being a most generous host!
UPDATED: Sept 26, 2023
ABOUT Tokyo Urban Permaculture
Tokyo Urban Permaculture (TUP) is a project that peace and sustainability activist Kai Sawyer started in 2011. He was a second-year permaculture apprentice at the Bullocks Permaculture Homestead when the Fukushima nuclear meltdown tragically occurred. He decided to take action at the root of the problem, Tokyo, to explore what seeds of hope he could grow in the center of cultural, political and economic power.
→ More about that on the Permaculture Podcast 2020
You can read more about Kai and the Bullocks Permaculture Homestead on his first blog: Living Permaculture (about) ＊no longer updated
Kai’s Bio is toward the end of this page.
Kai’s TEDx talk “An Invitation to Stop” (English)
＊this talk was done while attending University of Tokyo Graduate Program in Sustainability Sciences – Global Leadership Program. Also, as a personal accomplishment, at the peak of clinical depression and major stage fright.
→ Our permaculture education center Peace and Permaculture Dojo, located in Chiba
→ Our children’s book now in English Our Earth Our Home
→ Japanese Youtube channel (for Japanese-speaking audience)
→ English Youtube channel (for Our Earth Our Home）
TUP started out as a place for Kai to share permaculture, Nonviolent Communication (NVC), mindfulness (based on zen master Thich Naht Hanh’s teachings), systems thinking, gift economy, and creative activism. Interventions and experiments such as guerrilla gardening, street meditations, youth climate change actions, making media, and developing community gardens have been a central part of TUP activities.
After several years of cultural “soil-building”, TUP has now blossomed into a decentralized community of social change growers exploring how can we co-create a culture that is moved by love for the earth and peace. Activities are not limited to “Tokyo”, “Urban”, or “Permaculture”, but one focus is on regenerating Tokyo into a capital that supports life rather than consuming it.
Recommended reading to understand our approach
The Big Picture by Richard Heinberg
2011 Tokyo Urban Permaculture begins
Started on “blogger” (now WordPress) as a media to share revolutionary ideas on urban ecological-cultural-political regeneration.
2014 Sustainable [R]evolution: Permaculture in Ecovillages, Urban Farms, and Communities Worldwide
A crowd-sourced compilation of best practices around the world. Kai, contributed/wrote articles on Natural Farming in Japan, chinampa farming in Latin America, Bullocks Permaculture Homestead (WA), and City Repair movement in Portland, OR.
2015 URBAN PERMACULTURE GUIDE
– a new design approach to living in the city
A crowd-sourced and crowd-funded 400 person book project, Urban Permaculture Guide, was published and has become one of the most read permaculture books in Japan. See Living Permaculture (book) for more.
2015 Community Roof-top Garden in Omotesando, Tokyo
The first Tokyo Urban Permaculture community garden project, Commune Community Garden, was started in 2015 near Omotesando Station. It has been a site for experimentation, community gatherings, and relief from the busy Tokyo world. Kai Sawyer along with gardener Norika Ishida have been teaching classes at this site through Freedom University.
Moved to Nagatacho (center of Japanese national politics) 2022
2016 Peace and Permaculture Dojo (“School of Living”) Isumi City, Chiba
An international school for sustainable living in a traditional Japanese farmstead regeneration project, including a 150 year old thatch-roofed kominka.
Programs include residential volunteer program, one-day program (permaculture tour, working on the land, and earth oven pizza party), two week Permaculture Design Course (PDC), nonviolent communication intensive retreats, miso-making workshops, and various retreats/workshops.
Plans for future development include a sustainability school for children and an Ecoversity.
2018 みんなのちきゅうカタログ OUR EARTH OUR HOME
Inspired by the Urban Permaculture Guide and the Whole Earth Catalogue, a small publishing company Two Virgins proposed making a children’s book about regenerating the earth and our culture.
As of 2023, published in Japan, Taiwan, Korea, USA, and China.
2023 Permaculture documentary TERRA
A full-length permaculture film featuring many inspiring citizen’s initiatives from Japan and the US (West Coast).
Currently being translated into English (slowly).
2023 General Store by Kamakura Urban Permaculture opens in Kamakura, Kanagawa
For most recent updates see the Tokyo Urban Permaculture blog (in Japanese)
In some ways, TUP is just a name, a blog and website, a flag where people can come to for healing, hope, and action. The movement in Japan is much larger than TUP, and we are just another branch of an inspiring earth-wide movement. Nothing more exciting than this!
Since our focus is on supporting non-English-literate Japanese, most information is in Japanese…until we find someone passionate about translating for us. We love connecting with the English-literate too so feel free to write us or support us in any way! Just be warned that few of us are bilingual and so our responses might be rather slow. Reminders are welcome if you don’t get a response in a week or something like that. Since we are all volunteers slowly building up our social infrastructure, our capacity is still quite limited.
Thanks for reading and happy to be on the planet with you!
moved by love
Kai, Remi and the inspiring people taking action for a better future
Kai Sawyer is an educator, speaker, and sustainability practitioner based in Chiba, Japan. He is the founder of Tokyo Urban Permaculture, a movement to regenerate the urban ecosystem through growing food and culture in Tokyo.
He teaches sustainable living, Nonviolent Communication (NVC), systems thinking, gift economy, healing depression and trauma, zen/mindfulness at universities, conferences, businesses, and community gatherings around the world since 2005.
He has been featured in the Japanese media regularly as a leader in sustainability, and advises universities and government on topics regarding sustainability. He resides in Isumi City, Chiba with his family at the Peace and Permaculture Dojo, an educational center for regenerative (sustainable) living and design.
Books: Urban Permaculture Guide (Japanese) and Our Earth Our Home (Originally Japanese, translated to English, Korean, Taiwanese, and Chinese).
Youtube: Tokyo Urban Permaculture
He has published two books on sustainable living in Japanese
Urban Permaculture Guide: 都会からはじまる新しい生き方のデザイン A New Design for Urban Sustainable Living
みんなのちきゅうカタログ Our Earth Catalogue (inspired by the Whole Earth Catalogue)
CURRENT PROJECTS (2019)
Localization Movement: Kai Sawyer along with anthropologist Keibo Oiwa PhD have been the leaders of the modern localization movement in Japan. They have hosted an annual international conference called Economics Of Happiness. This year (2019) the conference will be held on November 8~10 at Meiji Gakuin University in Totsuka, Kanagawa. Kai Sawyer will also be hosting a Localization conference in Isumi City on November 13th.
Isumi Sustainable City project: a slowly developing project to make Isumi City a model for sustainability in Japan. As rural areas all over Japan face depopulation and economic strain, Isumi City can be a reference point for how to create a vibrant local economy, and how to regenerate a local food system. This project is in partnership with local businesses, local government, and community members new and old.