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The One-Straw Revolution

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  4,917 ratings  ·  520 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
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 go
Damian Satterthwaite-Phillips
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 grow tired of the false human-nature dichotomy ...more
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
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
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 prepared compost
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,
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, unhealthy eatingPollan


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 s
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)
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, greens
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 concep ...more
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book made me look at food and gardening differently. Must read for those interested in food security, permaculture, agriculture, and sustainability.
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 major pri ...more
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
Ramona Gherghe
Sep 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: engleza, read-2015
"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."
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/>
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 posses/>He
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
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, h
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I want to sit with this for a bit.

There is a lot I don’t agree with and some of it is semantics. I wanted to read this with an open mind and while reading wanted to firmly disagree - but at the same time wished deeply that I could agree. Some things I don’t grasp well (mainly those pertaining to Buddist teaching or based therein). However, the book reads like the observations and contemplations of a person with a deep connection to their experience. It also is undoubtedly a strong fo
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Initially thought that this book will teach organic way of farming instead it covers the organic lifestyle to everyone. In particular without exploiting the nature (Way we were following current practices Masanobu see it as Brutal). By the end of we will believe his philosophical thoughts were empirical. In simple to summarize, Masanobu highlight we have to purify our human's thought and spirit as process thus heal the land in his ironical thoughts.
Emma Whyte
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really 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
Shriti Kumar
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Book Review
‘The One-Straw Revolution-An Introduction to Natural Farming’ by Dr. Masanobu Fukuoka


‘The One-Straw Revolution-An Introduction to Natural Farming’ by Dr. Masanobu Fukuoka is based on the following theme: “The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but cultivation and perfection of human beings”, and we are always developing new ways to attain this by absorbing from the existing perfect nature.
Through his work Dr. Fukuoka has en
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 question ...more
Denis Farley
Dec 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So far, a birthday gift, heard a lot about it and looking forward.

Up to page 110 now, a little past half way at 180 pages throughout. Having become interested in Permaculture (I suppose that is a proper name now), principles after hearing Bill Mollison speak around '94, and noticing Mr. Fukuoka's name among the literature and references within the discipline over the years, it is an unqualified pleasure to take in this translation from the Japanese, his life, ideas and practices. There is much
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Being an avid gardener I read this book looking for inspiration. I wasn't disappointed. This guy brings a new way of thinking about how to grow food and create an environment to heal your body and soul. He makes some dead on observations about the modem world and how we are clueless about nature and our desire to improve on nature has caused us nothing but problems. He argues we will never understand nature and to try, removes us further from it.
John Yunker
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ecolit-books
I thought I knew a thing or two about gardening. But since undertaking a rather intensive gardener training program I now know just how little I actually knew about gardening.

I’m not alone. It turns out that so much of what we’ve been told about gardening and farming over the past few decades — from the usage of pesticides and fertilizers to the annual tilling of soil — has turned out not only to be bad for the soil but bad for the planet.

The One-Straw Revolution by Masan
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 i
Malia Walter
Jul 12, 2014 rated it liked it
I truly enjoyed the fist half to two thirds of this book. A sound foundation, both historical and philosophical, was laid for Fukuoka's "do nothing" gardening methods. He explained his own life so that the reader would understand where he was coming from and established his credentials to make his theories believable, all in a format that felt like a series of essays, rather than a book. My purpose in reading the book was to grasp another facet or different viewpoint for my understanding of perm ...more
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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
“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.” 171 likes
“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.” 105 likes
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