Watch Kazuaki Hashimoto chopping firewood for the following winter on a baking day at the end of April, and you may be forgiven for thinking he leads a rather old-fashioned lifestyle.

But Hashimoto, who recently moved from a house with an air conditioner and electric heater in each room to an energy-efficient house with a single wood stove, is at the forefront of a distinctly cutting-edge movement: living off-grid.

Hashimoto and his wife Haruko are the latest household in this lush valley in the Fujino district of Sagamihara to install an off-grid system devised by Fujino Power, a local group seeking to educate citizens about energy and empower them to generate their own electricity.