Hide Enomoto, co-founder of Transition Japan, speaks to Michelle Denton about Inner Transition in the Japanese context. We also introduce the next two new videos in our Inner Transition series:
How did you come to Transition?
I had been a coach for about 10 years helping my clients focus on creating meaningful work. During that time, I saw the power of coaching while recognising the difficulties and limitations many of us meet in a society that does not support people owning their own power, their creativity.
In that sense, I saw the limitations of coaching and began to ask myself what society might look like if people owned their power and released their creativity in their work and personal lives? I couldn’t find an answer within coaching but sensed a hint of what I was looking for in the eco-village movement and, in 2005, I decided to move to Findhorn. My initial thought was to create an eco-village in Japan – creating your own food, energy and money is very empowering and highly creative after all….
Then, as things unfolded, I attended a Be the Change symposium in Frome where I heard about Transition. I had an intuitive hit – I knew. Following research and meeting Rob at Findhorn, I recruited some good friends and we set up Transition Japan in 2008.
Could you tell us about your experience of Inner Transition?
I had a leaning towards Inner Transition from the very beginning. In addition to my background in coaching, I studied psychology in the U.S. in 1994, where I came across the work of Joanna Macy.
The very reason I was drawn to Transition was because it had the inner and outer components. I remember how the inner was integral to the Transition Training.
And, I began to see the dots coming together…
What has the response been to Inner Transition in Transition Japan?
The friends that began with me – they were more interested in the outer. They understood the importance of the inner but it wasn’t their orientation.
I remained interested in Be the Change so I set up another nonprofit – Seven Generations – along with Transition Japan. I’m not sure why I set up two organisations, but I did, and it drew different types of people.
A lot of my coaching friends and students were drawn to Seven Generations whereas Transition Japan drew those from a permaculture and activist background.
By establishing both at the same time, it had a complimentary effect and ideas cross-pollinated. Both groups continue to work together. In fact, they ran a collaborative campaign last year where the Be the Change people went to Transition Towns around Japan to offer symposiums.
Has it supported your work at Transition Japan?
I’m no longer involved in Transition Japan but am active in Transition Town Fujino, the first official Transition town in Japan. For the last two years, we have been running a series of mini workshops on Inner Transition, including the Work that Reconnects, non-violent communication and other models. The workshops are designed to help people get in touch with what’s happening inside them and we tend to focus on two categories:
- The inner at an individual level — where we help people to cope with the pain, difficulties and challenges of engaging with Transition in their own lives. You may not be surprised to learn this has really helped since 3/11, the date of the earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster. Of course, many of us had to turn inward after this – as we worked with the effect it had on us individually as well as the physical challenges.
- The inner at a social level — where we examine how to work together more effectively, introducing methods and ways of thinking that support Transition at the community, organisational and societal levels.
Interestingly, a lot of people in Fujino talk about the inner aspect.
I’m curious about your thoughts on the differences between East and West from an Inner Transition perspective?
Even though Japan is in the East, we remain heavily influenced by the West. Deep down while we still maintain an “Eastern” mindset – primarily through a connection with nature and the ancestors – on the surface, we are a lot like people in the West.
So, while it is true there is a stronger connection with our ancestral tradition through Shintoism, the idea of Inner Transition is just as important here as it in the West.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to mention one connection I made between coaching work and Transition. My basic assumption as a coach is people are naturally creative, resourceful and whole. When I first heard Rob speak, he said communities already have enough resources to be resilient and whole as well.
The shift we seek to make includes shifting our perspective to see everything as a resource. I remember when I first moved to Fujino, people who grew up there asked me why I moved to a small town of only 10,000 people where there are no jobs, no ‘everything’. I answered then, and still do now, it is simply a matter of seeing everything as a resource.
In fact, the most abundant and unused renewable energy on earth is people’s creativity. And, for me, this provides the link between coaching, which enables individual creativity, and Transition, which enables community creativity. It is also in my view, what draws people to the movement and what sets Transition apart. Of course, this is very different from how we were taught to live and how many still live. And, it is here that the inner comes into it’s own because transitions are, by their very nature, challenging. Supporting ourselves, each other, the communities in which we live and the movement as a whole – via the inner – is essential to our ability to affect change.
Michelle Denton, an independent adviser and mentor to Transition Network, interviewed Hide for #InnerTransitionweek.