published March 10, 1988
Cover Image by Kawagichi Yoichiro
We live in the age of corporate organisms. Though no formal announcements have been issued, it’s becoming harder to ignore that they have wrested control of the earth from Homo sapiens and supplanted us as the planet’s dominant species. It is they— the multinationals, government bureaucracies, religious hierarchies, military bodies, et al. — not individual humans, that generate our era’s character, its patterns of wealth & poverty, its technological progress & ecological peril, its entertainment and political agenda. They have, in short, taken over, and nowhere more so than in Japan.
—W. David Kubiak, E. Pluribus Yamato: The Culture of Corporate Beings
The nation had just celebrated his 75th birthday the week before, and he had never been to McDonald’s! Billions sold to his loyal subjects throughout the land, and he had never visited one of those bright, modern establishments of yellow and red that he’d seen from the shaded windows of the limousine on his rare excursions from the palace.
—Robert Brady, The Emperor Visits MacDonalds
In Kyoto there are three areas of life which, residents say, may overwhelm outsiders if they try to explore too deeply: the world of Buddhist priests, the Gion entertainment and geisha district, and the Nishijin weaving district. The world of Nishijin, like that of the temples or teahouses, is considered to be a complex organization rooted in a long tradition, with a sense of mystery which cannot be easily unraveled by outsiders. Nishijin is the name for three interrelated entities: the district of Kyoto in which silk brocade weaving has been carried on for some five centuries; the weaving process, which is complicated, and requires the finest skills in Japan; and finally, the unique product — the broacade used for priestly garments and for obi (kimono sashes) that are worn on the highest ceremonial occasions in Japan, such as weddings, tea ceremonies, noh plays and traditional festivals. Over its long history, Nishijin cloth has become one of the cultural symbols of Japan.
— Tamara Hareven, Nishijin in Crisis
Different People: Pictures of some Japanese, by Donald Richie — Leo Kenny
The Old Capital, by Yasunari Kawabata, trans. Martin J. Holman — Lisa Lowitz
Secret Teachings in the Art of Japanese Gardens, by David A. Slawson — Ian Perlman
Break the Mirror, by Nanao Sakaki — Ken Rodgers