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Half Farmer, Half X

Half Farmer, Half X

 In Japan, the "Half Farmer, Half X" lifestyle has been garnering attention in recent years. This lifestyle was first proposed in the mid 1990s by Naoki Shiomi, who lives in the city of Ayabe in Kyoto Prefecture. The basic concept of this way of life is that people practice small-scale subsistence farming to grow food for themselves and their families, and spend their remaining time on something else, called "X." This "X" represents what a person wants to do, or in other words, their "personal mission." In a Half Farmer, Half X lifestyle, people balance farming with work they are passionate about and believe to be important, and in return find spiritual fulfillment. Many people who want to lead spiritually rich lives, especially those in their 20s, 30s and 40s, are finding that they can agree with the Half Farmer, Half X lifestyle, even if it means a smaller income.

 The "X" varies from person to person. While one person might spend part of their time farming and devote the rest to an NGO in a "Half Farmer, Half NGO" lifestyle, another might be a "Half Farmer, Half Writer," a "Half Farmer, Half Singer" or a "Half Farmer, Half Childcare Worker." In his book "Lifestyle of Half Farmer and Half X" (Sony Magazines, Inc.), Shiomi introduces a number of different people doing work they are passionate about and wholeheartedly believe in while also incorporating small-scale subsistence farming into their lives.

 One example of a person living an attractive lifestyle based on the Half Farmer, Half X idea is a rice farmer who simultaneously works as a caretaker in a town with an aging population. Living in an underpopulated town that has seen a lot of its young people go off to the city and especially needs caretakers, this "Half Farmer, Half Caretaker" reportedly finds both happiness and a sense of purpose in being able to do work that he/she likes and that also benefits society. Another example is a person in her 40s who uses their English language skills to translate film subtitles while also teaching English to neighborhood children. She gained confidence in herself and in their existence after encountering this Half Farmer, Half X belief: "In the end, farming forms the foundation of life. Apart from that, all a person needs to do is fulfill their own personal mission." A number of elderly people are also living rich and active Half Farmer, Half X lifestyles. For example, a woman in her 70s arranges for people interested in experiencing rural life to come and stay in an expansive, traditional Japanese folk house that is over 100 years old. Another woman in her 80s has put her skill at baking soba boro, Japanese buckwheat cookies, to use by opening a small classroom.

 Rather than just working to pay the bills and get by, there are many opportunities for people who hope to live richer lives doing what they are passionate about and believe to be important, to find their true calling, and in putting their skills to use to contribute to society in a positive way. A key for these people can be found in the Half Farmer, Half X way of life, in which "half of a person's time is spent on subsistence farming to provide food for themselves and their family, and the remaining time is spent doing what they want to do, what they believe they want to spend their life doing."

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