An Osaka-based nonprofit organization promoting “eco-villages” provides information on such communities in Europe. It also makes arrangements for people who wish to visit or stay at one.

Mana Enomoto, secretary general of Citizen Works, said she wants more people to visit Europe’s eco-villages and learn from the experience because Japanese people’s perceptions differ greatly from the reality.

“To understand eco-villages, it would be best if you actually go to one,” said Enomoto, who visited four of the villages in Denmark and Britain in September.

She was surprised to find that each community is unique and that many place importance on spirituality.

“In Japan, an eco-village is considered a community where people lead an environmentally friendly lifestyle, using natural energy and eating locally grown organic vegetables,” she said. “But what struck me most when I visited (the European ones) was the fact that people thoroughly enjoy their life. I want Japanese people to learn this aspect of eco-villages.”

Interest in eco-villages in Japan is reportedly increasing, so the group plans to arrange more visits.

Eurotopia, a directory of communal communities and eco-villages in Europe, is available from the group. The 413-page book lists 336 so-called intentional communities, including 40 eco-villages in 23 European countries, with detailed information as well as contact numbers for networking organizations.

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