UPCOMING ISSUE KJ92: DEVOTION
INSIGHTS FROM ASIA
Kyoto Journal is an award-winning
quarterly English magazine founded in Kyoto, Japan,
presenting cultural and historical insights from
all of Asia since 1987.
- FICTION, POETRY & REVIEWS
- HIDDEN JAPAN
- IN TRANSLATION
- INSIGHTS FROM ASIA
- OUR KYOTO
Shokunin and Devotion
The Japanese word ‘shokunin’ is often translated as ‘artisan’ in English. Although it isn’t incorrect by definition, the translation seems to lose the spirit of what a shokunin does. I’m reminded of this every time I explain the works and lives of shokunin to an overseas audience, which happens to be what I do for a living.
A kotatsu is a low table with a blanket or quilt spread over it and a heating device inside. In old houses like ours, the area under the table is often actually sunk into the floor, so the legs can stretch out and the feet can rest directly on the little heater.
“Portraits of Eldest Sons” is a series of photographs addressing the relationship between young men and their family homes. Photographer Saito Hiroshi took indvidual portraits of himself and his friends—all young men aged around 20 or 21, and all eldest sons—in the rooms where their family butsudan, in-house Buddhist altars, are displayed.
The Stone Carver
He walked back to the main street, along the row of stone workshops. Through the open doors of one he saw, through a haze of white dust, a row of squatting carvers working frantically, pounding their chisels into the stone in a clanging chorus.
The pre-modern Japanese were not, of course, innocent of environmental exploitation—they razed many mountainsides and turned many fields after reciting the requisite prayers—but they understood their relationship to the environment in a radically different way than modern Japanese do.
Honyarado: Losing Kyoto’s Counter-Culture Hub
Opening in 1972, Honyarado became a hub and stronghold of anti-war activities and a symbol of youth counterculture. We campaigned for the release of political prisoners in South Vietnam and South Korea, and supported court cases against obscenity charges.
Noguchi Isao on Heirloom Seeds
“Since ancient times, farmers would carefully select seed from vegetables that grew well and tasted wonderful, in addition to other characteristics including shape and color. By saving such seed season after season, these native seeds became trusted as stable varieties over centuries.”
KJ Summer 2018 Reads: Titles from Tuttle
As part of their 70th-year anniversary celebrations, KJ has teamed up with Tuttle Publishing, the Asia specialist, for this four-part series.