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The One-Straw Revolution

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  5,817 ratings  ·  624 reviews
Fukuoka demonstrates how the way we look at farming influences the way we look at health, the school, nature, nutrition, spiritual health and life itself. He joins the healing of the land to the process of purifying the human spirit and proposes a way of life and a way of farming in which such healing can take place.
Paperback, 14th Impression, 181 pages
Published 2006 by Other India Press (first published 1975)
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I legally downloaded the book in PDF form from

This book made me realize that something else is possible.

The author writes that he is a farmer in Japan who gets rice yields that meet or eclipse the most highly productive regions in Japan, yet he:
- uses no artificial fertilizer
- does not plow
- does not sow seed but rather tosses it on the ground and forgets it
- does not weed
- does no insect control
- works far fewer hours than those who use the above

His descriptions of
Jun 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
So if you crossed Yoda with Joel Salatin and made him a laboratory scientist with a Japanese rice-grain-vegetables-citrus farm, you'd get a rough and awkward parody of Fukuoka Sensei.

Really, to capture this guy's wit and humility and flashing intelligence, you really need to read the book. Possibly over and over. Outside would be best. In Japan-- perfect.

So, if I may debase his great ideas with my little summary, the idea of the book is that People Mess Up Nature. Even good farming practices, li
Jun 13, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People who love the earth and/or simplicity
Recommended to Damian by: Charles Chemin
This is really like a 4-star book combined with a 2-star one. This book starts out fabulously, all about simpler existence and simple farming. Life without fucking everything up, basically, and it's very inspiring. But then the author gets increasingly preachy, and goes on a Zen-and-the-Art-of-Motorcycle-Maintenance-type patting himself on the back... (though actually much less obnoxiously). Ultimately I tend to largely agree with Fukuoka's life philosophy, but he needs to tone it down a bit. I ...more
I work somewhat related to plant breeding and farming so I'm always interested to read something from someone who has something different to say. Sadly (and this is getting more and more common with 'alternative' farming) that different thing often doesn't hold up to closer scrutiny, as it does here.

Fukuoka advocates his idea of natural farming (important his distinction: it's not 'abandonment' farming, it does require work), summarised in 5 points: no cultivation, no chemical fertilizer or prep
Feb 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Slow food enthusiasts, Organic farmers and buyers, Eco conscious consumers
Every once in a while, we chance upon a book that we finish it in one sitting, and wonder why we did not find it earlier. Every once in a while, we chance upon a book that makes us think "Exactly how does any one else not think like this?". A book that introduces a new paradigm.. a new dimension to our world view. The new paradigm may or may not be one with which we are comfortable.

This outstanding book by Masanobu Fukuoka is one such. And the new paradigm it introduced to me is both comfortable
It's hard to rate a book like this. It's a book that I appreciate, but not one that I completely subscribe to. I understand and admire Fukuoka's philosophy and work, that without a doubt.

Fukuoka practices natural farming, which means being cooperative with nature instead of trying to pretend that we humans know more and can do better. He tries to create a system that nature's mechanism does its best. No more pesticide, herbicide, not even pruning, weeding, etc. He simply finds (and some scientif
Dec 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
We make things too complicated. We're not as smart as we think we are. The earth pays for our arrogance. Eat well. Simple, whole foods. Don't work too much or you won't have time to write a haiku.

Starting from the thesis that life has no meaning, Mr. Fukuoka explains how this realization led him to his "do-nothing" farming method. His views of the Westernization of agriculture in Post WWII Japan lead to musings on how the Japanese have become removed not only from their food source, but also the
Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolutely fantastic text on the relationship between nature and man. Fukuoka’s book is a perfect blend of practical farming advise and philosophical reflections, and this blending of the two subjects reflects his outlook on the unbreakable relationship between man and the world around him. The book isn’t just calling for an agricultural revolution, but a personal one, and it’s message of ecological unity is incredibly powerful.
Aug 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: environment
This is the first book that I have ever started rereading immediately upon completion to see what I had missed the first time. After the second reading it easily burst into my all time top 10 favorite books list.

I am a firm believer that understanding and obeying nature are essential steps towards fulfillment on both individual and social levels, and this book gives expression to that belief better than any I have ever read. Mr. Fukuoka's essential question that took him 30 years to answer is "

"_The One-Straw Revolution_ is one of the founding documents of the alternative food movement, and indispensable to anyone hoping to understand the future of food and agriculture."—Michael Pollan

"Only the ignorant could write off Fukuoka, who died two years ago at the age of 95, as a deluded or nostalgic dreamer...Fukuoka developed ideas that went against the conventional grain....Long before the American Michael Pollan, he was making the connections between intensive agriculture, unheal

Josh Friedlander
In Charles Mann's dichotomy, Mr Fukuoka is a prophet, not a wizard - though a prophet of comfort. He preaches a return to traditional ways, and rejects agricultural innovation. In his view - peppered with Zen-like comments on life and peace of mind - we cannot "cheat" nature forever. Each innovation we find - to wring more out of the soil, kill insects and disease, and provide more and a wider range of produce throughout the year - will inevitably throw up externalities, and though we may fix th ...more
Letters Journal
Oct 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book about rice, winter grain, and fruit tree farming in Japan and a meditation on the limits of human knowledge and language. Or, it is more accurate to say that it is a story about the limits of human knowledge and language, told through the lens of rice, winter grain, and fruit tree farming in Japan.

I have never grown rice or winter grains, and I probably never will. Yet, this book was absolutely captivating and exciting. Fukuoka’s approach to farming and to life is to seek non-acti
Thai Son
Oct 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Superbly written book. Masanobu Fukuoka lived his tale, and these are the insights from a lifetime of cocreating with life and nature's splendor. I think this will be one of those rare books which,I can say for certain, have defined my course in life. I read to the middle of it in a nice mid-day, and somehow my mind sort of stop searching for the information, and my whole being sort of just shivered. I had a rumination. Satori. Or something like that. Many will find similar sentiments. Many in m ...more
Sara J. (kefuwa)
My first NYRB. And I didn't even know it was an NYRB the first time I put it on my wishlist - I was just looking for more Masanobu Fukuoka after reading his Sowing Seeds in the Desert way back in 2014. Suffice to say I found this, his first book, just as interesting as that one - I think it is a bit more elaborate as well. It does go into spirituality a bit in some parts but if that's not your thing then just glaze over it (I have to admit even I found some of it a bit *out there*). The overall ...more
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
There's something basic about this book; you realise that some way into it - Fukuoka doesn't say anything new at all. Most of what he talks about is common sense. It's just a sad fact that we've moved so far away from that. If all these grains that we now farm have grown over the years and been part of us for so many millennia, why do we suddenly need to use so many fertilisers? Of course, the argument is one of plenty, to feed the teeming billions. But that still does not seem to answer his que ...more
Aug 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature, translation
the one-straw revolution is a pragmatic, philosophical exposition on "do-nothing" farming, an agricultural method that eschews nearly all modern technological and chemical enhancements in favor of a more holistic and balanced approach. masanobu fukuoka was a japanese farmer and often-ridiculed practitioner of this "do-nothing" style of farming (which, despite its name, actually requires considerable hard work- just far less than most modern agricultural processes). fukuoka's method included four ...more
Sathya Srinivasan
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
"The usual way to go about developing a method is to ask, "How about trying this?" or "How about trying that?" bringing in a variety of techniques one upon the other. This is modern agriculture and it only results in making the farmer busier.

My way was opposite. I was aiming at a pleasant, natural way of farming which results in making the work easier instead of harder. "How about not doing this? How about not doing that?" -- that was my way of thinking. I ultimately reached the conclusion that
Dec 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: farming
I get Masanobu Fukuoka's farming philosophy/practice. It's beautiful. And it's quite clear in hindsight that his work helped ignite the good food movement throughout the world. So huzzah to him!

Fukuoka's book, though, left me wanting. I couldn't get over the constant references to the concept of "nature" or "natural" made throughout. In agriculture, "natural" as a label confounds me. No agricultural products are produced naturally. That would be silly. The whole idea of agriculture is to create
Mina Villalobos
Jul 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Definitely a very interesting and thought provoking read, I found myself feeling both surprised and saddened that this was written almost 40 years ago and we're still dealing with the same kind of problems, only made worse. This is a philosophy book more than it is a gardening book, but it is because of the philosophy and the way of life it promotes that you could ever think of make the type of cultivation it proposes happen. Perhaps the measures that we would need to take to change our way of l ...more
Emma Whyte
Aug 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Fukuoka’s musing: ‘the key to peace lies close to the earth’, sums up perfectly the overall ethos of this book. It merges discussions on farming practices with a more general philosophy on the human condition and our relationship to nature. Whilst this edition was written in 1978, many of his sentiments ring true today. For example he writes that ‘if we do have a food crisis it will not be caused by the insufficiency of nature’s productive power, but by the extravagance of human desire’. I also ...more
Ramona Gherghe
Sep 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2015, engleza
"I hope, as the days go by, that I will be able to experience a day as a year."
"When I go to the fields or the orchard I say to myself: make no promises, forget about yesterday, do not think about tomorrow, put sincere effort into each day's work and leave no footprints here on earth."
"Nature can never be unederstood or improved upon human effort."
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that is a lot about food, food chains and agriculture, but more about how we live on the earth and the nature of knowledge. It owes much to Buddhism, here is the moment of Masanobu Fukuoka's initial enlightenment:
One night as I wandered, I collapsed in exhaustion on a hill overlooking the harbor, finally dozing against the trunk of a large tree. I lay there, neither asleep nor awake, until dawn. I can still remember that it was the morning of the 15th of May. In a daze I watched t
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Splendid outline of natural farming from a Japanese perspective with generalizable tips for the world. The book's motto is ' Eat, play, sleep.'

Our meddling intellect
Misshapes the beauteous forms of things --
We murder to dissect.

William Blake:
He who binds to himself a joy
Doth the winged life destroy,
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sunrise.

Fukuoka: When it is understood that one loses joy and happiness in the effort to possess them, the essence of natural farmi
J Carney
Aug 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“But all I have been doing, farming out here in the country, is trying to show that humanity knows nothing.”

I came to this book thinking it would be a practical case study of no-till farming. It was, but it was also a philosophical, metaphysical, scientific and personal exploration of the relationship of people to food, farming, nature, and work.

I’m at an age where I’m hard to surprise, but Fukuoka’s philosophy was very new to me. I’ve gotten a lot out of recent books or articles I’ve read prom
Hayden Kesterson
Reading this book with the background I have and while working on a farm was very interesting. Some passages are in line with an orthodox Marxist understanding of economy while others are completely outside of any line of thinking I am familiar with. It was easy to see while reading it how the audience of 1975 (the year it was published in English) could take it and fit it with a hippie/back to the land mindset, and how those of the contemporary alternative food movement could put in line with a ...more
Mckenzie Ragan
This was a quick and really kind of meditative read. Fukuoka’s manifesto details his dropping out of the science establishment to pursue a mode of farming more in tune with nature prior to human tampering – a mode that is at once primitive and far-seeing. He explains where science has failed us, how one intervention leads to the necessity of another as plants are weakened and soil is burned clean of nutrients and microorganisms. He explains his own ‘do nothing’ method that drew academics, hippie ...more
Laura Marelic
Oct 07, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.

I think this is one of those books that was so revolutionary at the time of its publishing that it changed the industry and now most, if not all, of his principles are relatively mainstream. There were definitely some beautiful passages and I do agree with a lot of his philosophy about nature vs. the modern Western world. But many of his tangents and stories were redundant and came off as pretentious/hypocritical/overly nihilistic, especially in the second half of the book.

Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is an awesome is a mistake to think that it is based only on natural farming practices. The book talks in detail about diet, seasoning and on top of it philosophies based on Taoism, Buddhism and Christianity with respect to nature and humanity.
Fukuoka inspires the youth to take up the responsibility to preach and practise the natural methods of farming and imbibes a search for nature connection already present in humans.

Human intellect according to the author is in mad race to inv
Thao Duong
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book for both the soul and the mind :)

I like the ideas, to put everything in simple, live in the present, harmony with the nature and be happy.

Somehow when the author wrote about doing nothing, I can understand his reason, but I disagree with that idea. One can do nothing, feel content and happy. Another can try the best to reach out what he wants, to go through life boldly with no regrets and still feel content and happy. Once he had the idea that trying is not good, he already separated his
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Lets Read! 1 1 Jul 26, 2020 10:00PM  
AMZN Lux: Any recommendations on great books similar to One Straw Revolution? 3 6 Aug 29, 2017 08:09AM  
NYRB Classics: The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming, by Masanobu Fukuoka 2 13 Oct 29, 2013 04:12PM  
Feed the World 2 42 Mar 12, 2013 05:14PM  

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Masanobu Fukuoka was born in 1914 in a small farming village on the island of Shikoku in Southern Japan. He was educated in microbiology and worked as a soil scientist specializing in plant pathology, but at the age of twenty-five he began to have doubts about the "wonders of modern agriculture science."

While recovering from a severe attack of pneumonia, Fukuoka experienced a moment of satori or p

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“I do not particularly like the word 'work.' Human beings are the only animals who have to work, and I think that is the most ridiculous thing in the world. Other animals make their livings by living, but people work like crazy, thinking that they have to in order to stay alive. The bigger the job, the greater the challenge, the more wonderful they think it is. It would be good to give up that way of thinking and live an easy, comfortable life with plenty of free time. I think that the way animals live in the tropics, stepping outside in the morning and evening to see if there is something to eat, and taking a long nap in the afternoon, must be a wonderful life. For human beings, a life of such simplicity would be possible if one worked to produce directly his daily necessities. In such a life, work is not work as people generally think of it, but simply doing what needs to be done.” 188 likes
“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.” 111 likes
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