Sustainable Living in Japan’s Mountain Communities

Tomi Matsuba Unesco Conference Message(Shimane)




In Omori town, there is the Iwami-Ginzan GUNGENDO, a place for research for the World Heritage Site, Iwami Ginzan. With a philosophy including treasuring and paying close attention to even a single thread in its fashion accessories and clothing, this company promotes a style of clothing, food, and lifestyle that is distinct from fast fashion.

Representative and designer, Tomi Matsuba, was invited by UNESCO to speak at the international conference in Bangkok and presented a speech called, “What should we do for a sustainable society?”

It was 35 years ago when Tomi Matsuba came to Omori Town. During this time, the mine in the area had closed down, the population was declining, and the mining era was fading. However, from the time Tomi first visited the area, the region was stimulated, and those here found that with its rich history in mining and the area’s lifestyle passed down throughout the years, the charms and power of this mysterious area can be used to do something for the area.

When people look at nature, they always tend to pay attention to only what is happening above the ground, such as whether plant buds have appeared, flowers are blooming, and if fruits are growing. However, what allows these plants to grow, are the roots that are intertwined and spread out within the soil. Omori Town’s lifestyle is one of “life with roots,” which is not only crucial for plants but is also extremely important for people as well.





In this “life with roots” philosophy, there is the idea of restoration and innovation. The concept of restoration and innovation is to not toss away old things from the past, but instead, utilize things from the past and what has been learned from before, to create new items and space — bringing the learnings and things from the past and into the present in new forms. This sustainable living lifestyle that has spread throughout the world was born from mountain villages.

In Iwami Ginzan, there is an old-fashioned house called Takyo-Abeke. This house was rebuilt with the intention of reproducing and sharing the idea of restoration and innovation. The house was originally a samurai residence with a history stretching as far back as 230 years and was purchased about 13 years ago. The house is now “a lodging house” that Tomi-san restored while she was living there. While staying at this lodge, you can talk with Tomi-san about the “life with roots” philosophy and sustainable living lifestyle, while enjoying her home cooking which uses locally grown ingredients.




You can also enjoy listening to Tomi Matsuba’s story on the way to visiting Iwami Ginzan. Why not take a walk and see this rich historical site.

For Reference:

Tomi Matsuba was asked to speak at the Unesco Conference in Bangkok. Here is the URL of the article about the talk.

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