About TUP: a message from Kai

Welcome to you English-reading friend!


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!

ABOUT Tokyo Urban Permaculture 

Tokyo Urban Permaculture (TUP) is a project that Kai Sawyer started around 2011. He was a second-year permaculture apprentice at the Bullocks Permaculture Homestead when the Fukushima nuclear meltdown tragically occurred. He decided to venture into the heart of the problem, Tokyo, to explore what seeds of hope he could grow in the busy radioactive world that he was born in. 

You can read more about Kai and the Bullocks Permaculture Homestead on his first blog: Living Permaculture (about)

TUP started out as a place for Kai to share permaculture, compassionate communication (aka Nonviolent Communication), mindfulness (based on Thich Naht Hanh’s teachings), systems thinking through games, gift economy, and creative activism from primarily from the Bay Area of California. Workshops and presentations are primarily offered as a gift (more about the gift economy here) and anybody is welcome to join.  Interventions and experiments such as guerrilla gardening, street meditations, youth climate change actions, and developing community gardens have been a central part of TUP activities.


A crowd-sourced and crowd-funded book-like zine, Urban Permaculture Guide, was published and has become one of the most read permaculture books in Japan. See Living Permaculture (book) for more.


After several years of soil-building, TUP has now blossomed into a 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 the focus is on regenerating Tokyo into a urban culture that supports life rather than consuming it. 

Some concrete projects include

this website!

  • nonviolent communication activist training retreat
  • PAWA Permaculture Design Course (with Phil Cashman and Kyle Holtzer)
  • Commune Garden: a  rooftop community garden in Omotesando, Tokyo
  • Japan-centered permaculture design manual in Japanese (just sprouting)
  • Permaculture and Nonviolence Dojo for training Japanese activists (just sprouting)

For most recent updates see the Tokyo Urban Permaculture blog.

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 and the inspiring TUP team

Kai’s Profile

Kai Sawyer is an educator, speaker, and sustainability practitioner based in Chiba, Japan. He teaches sustainable living, nonviolent communication, and mindfulness at universities, businesses, and community gatherings all over Japan since 2011. 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 wife and child.

Kai’s TEDx talk: TEDxTodai (University of Tokyo) An Invitation to Stop


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)


Peace and Permaculture Dojo (Isumi City, Chiba): An international school for sustainable living in a traditional Japanese farmhouse. Programs led by Kai Sawyer currently include five-month residential internship, week long Permaculture Design Course (PDC), nonviolent communication intensive retreats, miso-making workshops, and monthly Day Of Mindfulness (DOM) gatherings. Plans for future development include a sustainability school for children and a College for Sustainability in collaboration with Isumi City.

Tokyo Rooftop Community Gardens: 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 Norika Ishida have been teaching classes at this site through Freedom University. Starting 2019, a new community garden project near Kanda Station is in the works in collaboration with Greenz magazine.

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.