Q: Can you please explain “Rakunatural” in detail?
This is a word I made, so I should be the one to explain it too. Below the title of this magazine we explain it the following way: “Rakunatural” mean “ It is fun to live a comfortable (Japanese: Raku) life in accordance with nature.” In other words it is a concept of don’t pushing yourself too hard and living a life in line with the laws and rhythms of nature. And it all originates from Prema in Japan.
To take it even farther, I intended for this word to take on a paradoxical meaning opposing a “duty-based” way of thinking. For some reason, when people start to open their eyes for a more natural way of life, their way of argumentation sometimes takes on a much more aggressive nature. For example: “Western medicine who doesn’t see the body as a whole is bad”, “A primary diet without grains, and especially brown rice is simply unthinkable”, “All food is just about the enzymes, so it’ pointless to eat if it isn’t raw”, “Soap is the only safe cleaning agent, and all other detergents are out of the question no matter if their ingredients are of natural origin” etc. etc. I could go on forever.
Because of space issues my explanation is a bit fragmented, and I am perfectly aware that all these issues have meanings that go far deeper than this. But unfortunately in the process of pursuing a natural life it is easy to create “imaginary enemies”, and my fear of this is always present.
Of course, it is a fact that there are many things in this world that damage both the environment and the natural state of our bodies. It is very important through individual choice to reduce the extent of these harmful elements to an absolute minimum. And there are also examples of what is considered common knowledge actually is wrong. If you increase this knowledge, the gap between your family, friends, school, workplace, society etc. will grow immensely, and this might also lead to hatred between the different parties. Very sad, but true.
In 2005 when I thought of this word, the LOHAS concept was also gaining an extreme momentum in Japan.
At the time even counselors teaching that just using the word LOHAS will make you money started appearing. There is not doubt that this was a time where sorting the good from the bad was important. According to the latest Wikipedia article, LOHAS is short for “Lifestyles Of Health And Sustainability”. It is a marketing term coined to tie together the lifestyle of people with concerns for health and environmental problems, with profit-making activities. The term was created in 1998 in USA, and came into focus as a term explaining a lifestyle in 2004 in Japan. But now the meaning has become vague and ambiguous, and is simply treated as another “buzzword”. It is also normal for businesses to use this vagueness on purpose and connect it with products or services promoting an ecological way of thinking.
I write about this term with great skepticism, but at the time this was really used as term for a cutting edge lifestyle protecting both your health and the environment.
I thought that the Japanese people had an inherent respect for harmony, and lived lives that valued the whole rather than the individual, so why should we need to use a foreign word like this? Isn’t living in harmony with nature just an extension on the same vector?
Sustainability becomes possible when the lives of each individual are tied together with the laws and rhythms of nature. These conservative values have often been considered as a hindrance to a global economy, but I still do believe that these traits are the ones Asians should be most proud of. That is because I think it is possible to learn a lot from pursuing a truth in harmony, not from screaming out your own selfish claims, but from an internal dialogue.
There is a way of thinking I especially like: “First learn, and delve deep. And then let it go. If it still comes boiling up from inside of you, keep it”. Learning more about food, health and the environment is never bad, but at times it can be the reason for conflict and mutual distrust, again leading to more complicated relationships and the loss of valuable energy. Whatever happens before our eyes (be it good or bad) teaches us something. It’s a fact that chemical materials act as poison in our bodies, but why does this poison really exist? If there is a God(s), why is the world so dirty? Even thoughts like this give us valuable opportunities for learning. These opportunities should be used for what they are, and I intend to always see things from different angles before I make an attack. I hope this is a feeling we all share.
It is not about how your surroundings will be today or tomorrow.
It takes time. But the action of realizing something from within is over in a moment. Let’s live a passionate life which is pleasant (pure) not just for the individual, but for each other too!
Prema Inc. CEO Nobuo Nakagawa