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Snippet from Wikipedia: Masanobu Fukuoka

Masanobu Fukuoka (Japanese: 福岡 正信, Hepburn: Fukuoka Masanobu, 2 February 1913 – 16 August 2008) was a Japanese farmer and philosopher celebrated for his natural farming and re-vegetation of desertified lands. He was a proponent of no-till, no-herbicide grain cultivation farming methods traditional to many indigenous cultures, from which he created a particular method of farming, commonly referred to as "natural farming" or "do-nothing farming".

Fukuoka was the author of several books, scientific papers and other publications, and was featured in television documentaries and interviews from the 1970s onwards. His influences went beyond farming to inspire individuals within the natural food and lifestyle movements. He was an outspoken advocate of the value of observing nature's principles.

Masanobu Fukuoka (2 February 1913 – 16 August 2008) was a Japanese farmer and philosopher celebrated for his natural farming and re-vegetation of desertified lands. He was a proponent of no-till, no-herbicide grain cultivation farming methods traditional to many indigenous cultures, from which he created a particular method of farming, commonly referred to as “Natural Farming” or “Do-nothing Farming”.

Fukuoka was the author of several Japanese books, scientific papers and other publications, and was featured in television documentaries and interviews from the 1970s onwards. His influences went beyond farming to inspire individuals within the natural food and lifestyle movements. He was an outspoken advocate of the value of observing nature's principles.

He has been mentioned many times by Bill Mollison as being influential to Mollison's cofounding of permaculture along with David Holmgren

See Also


People Permaculture Permaculturists


(2 February 1913 – 16 August 2008) was a Japanese farmer and philosopher celebrated for his natural farming and re-vegetation of desertified lands. He was a proponent of no-till, no-herbicide grain cultivation farming methods traditional to many indigenous cultures,<ref name=“Continuing ancient no-till nature farming cultures”>

</ref> from which he created a particular method of farming, commonly referred to as “Natural Farming” or “Do-nothing Farming”.<ref>Sustainable Agriculture: Definition and Terms. Special Reference Briefs Series no. SRB 99-02, September 1999. Compiled by: Mary V. Gold, Alternative Farming Systems Information Center, US Department of Agriculture </ref><ref>Setboonsarng, S. and Gilman, J. 1999. Alternative Agriculture in Thailand and Japan. HORIZON Communications, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. Online review version (Retrieved 25 March 2014).

</ref><ref name=“Toyoda 2008-9 Japan Spotlight”>


Fukuoka was the author of several Japanese books, scientific papers and other publications, and was featured in television documentaries and interviews from the 1970s onwards.<ref name=“NHK appearance 1976”>

NHK TV 1976 Documentary (Japanese only; Retrieved 30 November 2010)</ref> His influences went beyond farming to inspire individuals within the natural food and lifestyle movements. He was an outspoken advocate of the value of observing nature's principles.<ref name=“Scheewe 2000 Nurturing the Soil”>Scheewe W. (2000) Nurturing the Soil, Feeding the People: An Introduction to Sustainable Agriculture, rev ed. Rex Bookstore, Inc. ISBN 9789712328954</ref>


Fukuoka was born on 2 February 1913 in Iyo, Ehime, Japan, the second son of Kameichi Fukuoka, an educated and wealthy land owner and local leader. He attended Gifu Prefecture Agricultural College and trained as a microbiologist and agricultural scientist, beginning a career as a research scientist specialising in plant pathology. He worked at the Plant Inspection Division of the Yokohama Customs Bureau in 1934 as an agricultural customs inspector. In 1937 he was hospitalised with pneumonia, and while recovering, he stated that, he had a profound spiritual experience that transformed his world view<ref name=“One-Straw-Rev-Recapitulation-satori-Eng-quote”>1992

1996 translation The Ultimatum of God Nature The One-Straw Revolution A Recapitulation -page 2. “In an instant I had become a different person. I sensed that, with the clearing of the dawn mist, I had been transformed completely, body and soul.”</ref><ref name=“Journeying with Seedballs-Bio”>2001

&#91;(a title translate:) The One Straw Revolution: Recapitulation -Journeying [around Earth] with clay seed balls-&#93; -biographical notes on page 271.

</ref><ref name=“Ramon Magsaysay Award-Bio”>The 1988 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service - "BIOGRAPHY of Masanobu Fukuoka"</ref> and led him to doubt the practices of modern “Western” agricultural science. He immediately resigned from his post as a research scientist, returning to his family's farm on the island of Shikoku in southern Japan.

From 1938, Fukuoka began to practise and experiment with new techniques on organic citrus orchards and used the observations gained to develop the idea of “Natural Farming”. Among other practices, he abandoned pruning an area of citrus trees, which caused the trees to become affected by insects and tangled branches. He stated that the experience taught him the difference between nature and non-intervention.<ref name=“ Way of Farming”>1975

1985 translation -updated 1987 The Natural Way Of Farming-The Theory and Practice of Green Philosophy -pages 132 and 190-216 - page 132 “There is a fundamental difference between nature and the doctrine of laissez-faire or non-intervention. Laissez-faire is the abandoning of nature by man after he has altered it, such as leaving a pine tree untended after it has been transplanted in a garden and pruned, or suddenly letting a calf out to pasture in a mountain meadow after raising it on formula milk.”</ref><ref name=“ Straw Rev Recap”>1992

1996 translation The Ultimatum of God Nature The One-Straw Revolution A Recapitulation -pages 5, 50, 97-8, 206-208 - page 98. “To put it very briefly, my theory is that human knowledge and actions have destroyed nature, and thus, if we abandon them and leave nature to nature, nature will recover on its own. This does not, however, mean nonintervention.”</ref> His efforts were interrupted by World War II, during which he worked at the Kōchi Prefecture agricultural experiment station on subjects including farming research and food production.

In 1940, Fukuoka married his wife Ayako, and over his life they had five children together. After World War II, his father lost most of the family lands due to forced redistribution policies of the American occupying forces and was left with only three-eighths of an acre of rice land and the hillside citrus orchards his son had taken over before the war. Despite these setbacks, in 1947 he took up natural farming again with success, using no-till farming methods to raise rice and barley. He wrote his first book Mu: The God Revolution, or Mu: Kami no Kakumei (

) in Japanese, during the same year, and worked to spread word of the benefits of his methods and philosophy. His later book, The One-Straw Revolution was published in 1975 and translated into English in 1978.

From 1979, Fukuoka travelled the world extensively, giving lectures, working directly to plant seeds and re-vegetate areas, and receiving a number of awards in various countries in recognition of his work and achievements. By the 1980s, Fukuoka recorded that he and his family shipped some 6,000 crates of citrus to Tokyo each year totalling about 90 tonnes.<ref name=“Ramon Magsaysay Award-Bio” />

During his first journey overseas, Fukuoka was accompanied by his wife Ayako, met macrobiotic diet leaders Michio Kushi and Herman Aihara,<ref name=“The Road Back to Nature”>1984

1987 translation The Road Back to Nature: Regaining the Paradise Lost</ref> and was guided by his leading supporter and translation editor Larry Korn. They sowed seeds in desertified land, visited the University of California in Berkeley and Los Angeles, the Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, the Lundberg Family Farms, and met with United Nations UNCCD representatives including Maurice Strong, who encouraged Fukuoka's practical involvement in the “Plan of Action to Combat Desertification”. He also travelled to New York and surrounding areas such as Boston and Amherst College in Massachusetts.

In 1983, he travelled to Europe for 50 days holding workshops, educating farmers and sowing seeds. In 1985, he spent 40 days in Somalia and Ethiopia, sowing seeds to re-vegetate desert areas, including working in remote villages and a refugee camp. The following year he returned to the United States, speaking at three international conferences on natural farming<ref name=“The Road Back to Nature” /> in Washington state, San Francisco and at the Agriculture Department of the University of California, Santa Cruz. Fukuoka also took the opportunity to visit farms, forests and cities giving lectures and meeting people. In 1988, he lectured at the Indian Science Congress, state agricultural universities and other venues.

Fukuoka went to Thailand in 1990 and 1991, visiting farms and collecting seeds for re-vegetating deserts in India, which he returned to during November and December that year in an attempt to re-vegetate them. The next year saw him participate in official meetings in Japan associated with the Earth Summit in Rio, Brazil, and in 1996 he returned to Africa, sowing seeds in desert areas of Tanzania, observing Baobab trees and jungle country. He taught the making and sowing of clay seed balls in Vietnam during 1995.

He travelled to the Philippines in 1998, carrying out Natural Farming research, and visited Greece later that year to assist plans to re-vegetate 10,000 hectares around the Lake Vegoritis area in the Pella regional unit and to produce a film of the major seed ball effort. The next year he returned to Europe, visiting Mallorca.

He visited China in 2001, and in 2002 he returned again to India to speak at the “Nature as Teacher” workshop at Navdanya Farm and at Bija Vidyapeeth Earth University in Dehra Dun, Uttarakhand in northern India. On Gandhi's Day, he gave the third annual Albert Howard Memorial Lecture to attendees from all six continents. That autumn he was to visit Afghanistan with Yuko Honma but was unable to attend, shipping eight tons of seed in his stead. In 2005, he gave a brief lecture at the World Expo in Aichi Prefecture, Japan,<ref name=“World Expo Aichi Japan 2005 appearance”>

World Expo Aichi Japan 2005 appearance - official web page for his session in 2005 Aug 4. (Japanese only; Retrieved 30 November 2010)</ref> and in May 2006 he appeared in an hour-long interview on Japanese television network NHK.<ref name=“NHK TV dialogue at 93”>

{{Asiantitle|こころの時代~宗教・人生||Spiritual Era ~ Religion・Life|j}} May 2006 NHK television interview between Fukuoka Masanobu and

on the topic: Journey around the world with Clay seed balls</ref>

Masanobu Fukuoka died on 16 August 2008 at the age of 95, after a period of confinement in bed and in a wheelchair.

Natural Farming

Fukuoka called his agricultural philosophy

, most commonly translated into English as “natural farming”.<ref name=“One–Straw_Translator's_Notes”>1975

1978 translation and reinterpretation The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming</ref> It is also referred to as “the Fukuoka Method”, “the natural way of farming” or “Do-Nothing Farming”, despite being labor-intensive.

The system is based on the recognition of the complexity of living organisms that shape an ecosystem and deliberately exploiting it. Fukuoka saw farming not just as a means of producing food but as an aesthetic and spiritual approach to life,<ref>Linking foresight and sustainability: An integral approach Joshua Floyd, Kipling Zubevich Strategic Foresight Program and National Centre for Sustainability, Swinburne University of Technology</ref> the ultimate goal of which was “the cultivation and perfection of human beings”.<ref>Agriculture: A Fundamental Principle, Hanley Paul. Journal of Bahá’í Studies Vol. 3, number 1, 1990.</ref>

The five principles of Natural Farming<ref>From the ground up: rethinking industrial agriculture By Helena Norberg-Hodge, Peter Goering, John Page, International Society for Ecology and Culture</ref> are that:

  • human cultivation of soil, plowing or tilling are unnecessary, as is the use of powered machines
  • prepared fertilizers are unnecessary, as is the process of preparing compost
  • weeding, either by cultivation or by herbicides, is unnecessary. Instead only minimal weed suppression with minimal disturbance
  • applications of pesticides or herbicides are unnecessary
  • pruning of fruit trees is unnecessary<ref>Sustainable Agriculture: A Vision for Future by Desai, B.K. and B.T.Pujari. New India Publishing, 2007</ref>

Clay seed balls

Fukuoka re-invented and advanced the use of clay seed balls. Clay seeds balls were originally an ancient practice in which seeds for the next season's crops are mixed together, sometimes with humus or compost for microbial inoculants, and then are rolled within clay to form into small balls. This method is now commonly used in guerilla gardening to rapidly seed restricted or private areas.<ref name=“Seed Bombs: A Guide to Their Various Forms and Functions”>"Seed Bombs: A Guide to Their Various Forms and Functions. On Guerilla (English) (Retrieved 25 may 2011)</ref>


In 1988, Fukuoka received Visva-Bharati University's Desikottam Award<ref name=“Japan for Sustainability News”>"Japanese Farmer-Philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka: Natural Farming Greening the Deserts" Japan for Sustainability Newsletter 2006 May. (English) –Japanese page. (Retrieved 5 January 2011)</ref> as well as the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service in the Philippines,<ref name=“Ramon Magsaysay Award-Cita”>"The 1988 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service - CITATION for Masanobu Fukuoka</ref> often considered “Asia's Nobel Prize”.<ref>The 1988 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service. "RESPONSE of Masanobu Fukuoka 31 August 1988". The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation website. (Retrieved 15 December 2010).“In electing Masanobu Fukuoka to receive the 1988 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service, the Board of Trustees recognizes his demonstration to small farmers everywhere that natural farming offers a practical, environmentally safe, and bountiful alternative to modern commercial practices and their harmful consequences”.</ref>

In March 1997, the Earth Summit+5 forum in Rio de Janeiro presented him with the Earth Council Award, received in person at a ceremony in Tokyo on 26 May of that year,<ref name=“Earth Council Awards Japan 1997 Gov page”>

Earth Council Awards 1997 Japan - Japanese Government Environment department website press release (Japanese only; Retrieved 30 November 2010)</ref> honouring him for his contributions to sustainable development.<ref name=“Japan for Sustainability News” />

In 1998, Fukuoka received a grant of US$10,000 from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund but the grant was returned because his advanced age prevented him from completing the project.<ref name=“Rockefeller-$10000”>

. “As a contribution toward the publication of a textbook, 'Natural Farming - How to Make Clayballs'.”</ref>


In the international development of the organic farming movement, Fukuoka is considered to be amongst the “five giant personalities who inspired the movement”<ref name=“giants”>The Economics of Organic Farming: An International Perspective, edited by N. H. Lampkin, S. Padel, p. 12. University of California. CAB International, 1994. ISBN 0-85198-911-X</ref> along with Austrian Rudolf Steiner, German-Swiss Hans Müller, Lady Eve Balfour in the United Kingdom and J.I. Rodale in the United States.

His books are considered both farming compendiums and guides to a way of life.<ref name=“Toyoda 2008-9 Japan Spotlight”/>

The One-Straw Revolution has been translated into over 20 languages and sold more than one million copies<ref name=“Toyoda 2008-9 Japan Spotlight” /> and Fukuoka has been widely influential, inspiring an international movement of individuals discovering and applying his principles to varying degrees,<ref name=“Toyoda 2008-9 Japan Spotlight” /> such as Akinori Kimura,<ref name=“Akinori Kimura's Miracle Apples Nature Farming”>Akinori Kimura's "Miracle Apples"(Retrieved 30 November 2010)</ref> David Mas Masumoto<ref>Pruning the past, shaping the future: David Mas Masumoto and organic nothingness Chou, Shiuh-huah Serena. MELUS, June 22, 2009</ref> and Yoshikazu Kawaguchi,<ref name=“Kato Nagoya-U”>


 | volume = [ 25]
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 | publisher = {{Eigo|名古屋大学大学院国際言語文化研究科|eng=Graduate School of Languages and Cultures, Nagoya University}}
 | year = 2003
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 | issn = 0388-6824
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</ref> and has significantly influenced alternative movements in the West, such as permaculture.<ref>

</ref><ref name=“pc temperate”>The Earth Care Manual: A Permaculture Handbook For Britain & Other Temperate Climates. Whitefield, Patrick, Permanent Publications, July 2004. 'The work of the Japanese farmer, scientist and sage Masanobu Fukuoka has been very influential in the permaculture movement worldwide.'</ref>

Rosana Tositrakul, a Thai activist and politician, spent a year studying with Fukuoka on his farm. She then organised a visit by Fukuoka to the Kut Chum District of northern Thailand, which, together with his books, were influential in the rapid and widespread adoption of organic and chemical-free rice farming in the district.<ref>



In the preface to the US editions of The One-Straw Revolution, Wendell Berry wrote that the Natural Farming system would not be directly applicable to most American farms. Fukuoka's techniques have proven difficult to apply, even on most Japanese farms, and are seen as too technically demanding for most people to follow. It has been described as a sophisticated approach despite its simple appearance.<ref name=“Kato Nagoya-U” /> In the initial years of transition from conventional farming there are losses in crop yields. Fukuoka estimated these to be 10% while others, such as Yoshikazu Kawaguchi, have found attempting to strictly follow Fukuoka's techniques lead to crop failures and require many years of adaption to make the principles work.<ref name=“Kato Nagoya-U”/>

Critics argue that his rejection of mechanisation is not justifiable for modern agricultural production <ref name=“Friedrich and Kienzle”>Friedrich, Theodor and Kienzle, Josef (2008) Conservation Agriculture: Impact on farmers’ livelihoods, labour, mechanization and equipment; in: Stewart, B.I., Asfary, A.F., Belloum, A. Steiner, K., Friedrich, T. (eds): Conservation Agriculture for Sustainable Land Management to Improve the Livelihood of People in Dry Areas; Proceedings of an international workshop, 7–9 May 2007 in Damascus, Syria, Damascus/Syria, pp 25-36.</ref> and that the system cannot interact effectively with conventional agricultural systems.<ref>Sustainable agriculture and environment: globalisation and the impact of trade liberalisation Andrew K. Dragun, Clement Allan Tisdell 0 Reviews Edward Elgar, 1999. p.111</ref>

In Japan, where Fukuoka had few followers or associates,<ref name=“Scheewe 2000 Nurturing the Soil” /> his critics argue that the “inner world and the connection between humans and nature does not, however, exhaust reality” and that he did not give sufficient attention to interpersonal relationships or society.<ref name=“Scheewe 2000 Nurturing the Soil” /> His influence is likened to that of a “strict and authoritarian grandfather figure” having a tendency to “theorize in a grand way” but not always to be practical.

Family farm recent developments

Fukuoka's farm in Shikoku was taken over by his son and daughter-in-law in the late 1980s, as Fukuoka reached an advanced age<ref name=“Mr-Fukuokas-life-sons-farm-still-thriving-2004”>

Esu Coop Osaka exchange visit to Fukuoka Masanobu's son's family's nature farm (blog page posted 2004 Dec)</ref> and his grandson also took up farming. Many of the farm's iyokan and amanatsu mikan trees remain,<ref name=“Toyoda 2008-9 Japan Spotlight”/> although some old iyokan were replaced by new varieties of fruit. Woodlands remain along with orchards, including some areas of wild vegetables still growing amongst them. Some areas of straw-mulched cropping continue to produce grains and vegetables.

The farm also features an orchard area of gingko trees, shiitake mushroom crops growing on tree logs in shady woodland, and plantings of limes, grapefruits, feijoas, avocados and mangos.<ref name=“Mr-Fukuokas-life-farming-sons-farm-now-2007”>

Japan's nature model farming for more than 30 years.

TERRE issue No. 12 2007</ref><ref name=“Mahoroba-blog-Elder-Fukuoka-story”>

Elder Mr. Fukuoka meeting again with owner of Mahoroba Natural Foods store (Japanese only; Retrieved 30 November 2010)</ref>

Selected works


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  • 1947 –

    , self-published, incorporated into later editions.

  • 1958 –

    , self-published, later incorporated into


  • 1969 –

    , self-published, republished as

    , Tokyo, 1985. ISBN 978-4-393-74112-2.

  • 1972 –

    , self-published; republished by

    , 1985, ISBN 978-4-393-74113-9.

  • 1973 –

    , self-published; republished by

    , 1985, ISBN 978-4-393-74111-5.

  • 1974 –

    , self-published.

  • 1975 –

    , republished

    , 1983, ISBN 978-4-393-74103-0.

  • 1975 –


    , ISBN 978-4-7887-7626-5.13-3.

  • 1984 –


    , ISBN 978-4-393-74104-7.

  • 1992 –

    , self-published, ISBN 978-4-938743-01-7.

  • 1997 – with


    , ISBN 978-4-393-74115-3.

  • 2001 –

    , self-published, republished by

    . 2010. ISBN 978-4-393-74151-1.

  • 2005 –


    , ISBN 978-4-393-97019-5.


  • 1978

    1975 Sep.

    The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming, translators Chris Pearce, Tsune Kurosawa and Larry Korn, Rodale Press.

  • 1985

    1975 Dec.

    The Natural Way Of Farming - The Theory and Practice of Green Philosophy, translator Frederic P. Metreaud, published by Japan Publications, ISBN 978-0-87040-613-3.

  • 1987

    1984 Aug.

    The Road Back to Nature - Regaining the Paradise Lost, translator Frederic P. Metreaud, published by Japan Publications, ISBN 978-0-87040-673-7.

  • 1996

    1992 Dec.

    The Ultimatum of God Nature The One-Straw Revolution A Recapitulation; English translation, published without ISBN by “Shou Shin Sha (小心舎)”.

  • 2012


    Sowing Seeds in the Desert: Natural Farming, Global Restoration, and Ultimate Food Security, edited by Larry Korn, Chelsea Green.


  • 2009 –

    , Fukuoka, Masanobu's hand-written classical song-verses and drawings. Bilingual Japanese and English. (ISBN 978-4-938743-03-1, ISBN 4-938743-03-5).


  • 1982 – The Close To Nature Garden; produced by Rodale Press. 24 minutes. In English.
  • 1997 – Fukuoka Masanobu goes to India; produced by Salbong. 59/61 minutes. Available in Japanese or dubbed English.

See also


External links

Conservationists Sustainability advocates Sustainable food system

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