Encounters

Walking the Kumano Kodo

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The Kumano region was long considered to be one of the most sacred regions in Japan, its three shrines attracting pilgrims so numerous that they were said to resemble a line of ants…

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Land and Money

Taiwan urban flower

“When my mother burns incense to honor the ancestors, it’s for those of my father’s family, the Wang, not her own, the Liu,” Shuyuan said as we mounted the steps of the factory. “She feels that neither she nor any of us children ever got anything from the Liu, its village or its land. Everything we have came from my father and this factory.”

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Hearing their Voices: the Afghan Women’s Writing Project

lana slezic afghanistan women photography kyoto journal bhurka

In 2004 when Masha Hamilton first visited Afghanistan, Afghan women sought to begin careers, get educations and participate in public life…when she returned, life in Afghanistan had become more difficult, and opportunities for women were increasingly scarce. She established the Afghan Women’s Writing Project to create a forum for both women’s education and their voices.

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Luck or Curse? The Stories of Two Hibakusha

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“I worry somewhat that people in this country still think that by dropping those bombs we hastened the termination of the war and also saved a million lives of soldiers. I’m a little worried about that perception.”

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Meld

Alex Ting Meld kyoto Journal food issue Taiwanese American wedding tea

Growing up in a rural New England suburb, the only thing different about our family was that we ate rice every night and that our ancient Taiwanese grandfather would practice tai chi on the lawn.

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Engawa

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I slide my feet along the floor, the gray, smooth, one-hundred-and-fifty-year-old floor of plaster of lime and clay and gravel. I think of all of the feet, the generations of feet, that have shuffled across it, lived on it, of the people who’ve sipped tea standing in the same spot.

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On Learning Pottery in Japan

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We never talked about our own work in aesthetic terms. I never asked, and they never volunteered. We never talked about the “significance” of our work, or its place in society. There seemed to be no place for the pained self-consciousness that afflicts so many American potters and students.

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Sar Kaley (these so-called lucky birds)

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No perfect way to earn merit in the end. Even something as simple as a bird becomes complicated. Yet still those bamboo cages at the foot of the stairs, a few kyat, and you’re compelled to have this thing all threadbare and shivering in our hands. And what was the wish again?

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Satori in the Conbini

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I stopped at the neighborhood 7-Eleven conbini on my way home nearly every night. It became a strange little ritual. Each night I could shed my mousy English-teacher-in-Japan existence with fellow worshippers at the altar of consumer goods..

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Kitchen Tales

Wendy Nakanishi Kitchen Tales Yasmin Flett illustrations

I left the comfortable and unchallenging world of my childhood when I was in my early twenties, eventually settling in Japan where I married a farmer. We are resident in rural Shikoku, and I have got acquainted with the roots of cooking through my relationship with my husband’s mother, whom I call Okaasan.

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Yakushima

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The Jomon sugi is so mammoth, and contains so many crooks and crannies in its branches and trunk, and such an abundance of rotted pockets, that it is host to a number of other trees and bushes growing high up in the air. And within breathing room of the Jomon sugi are other giants, also harboring their own families of trees.

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Tomorrowland

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I have suffered all my life from what one might call nostalgia for the future. In 2011, two years before my first cancer diagnosis, my husband and I spent the summer in Japan. I thought that if the future were to be found anywhere, it would be there, in bubble-fueled, Midas-fingered Tokyo…

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Soaring over Sorachi

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As one of the few places like it in all of Japan, Sky Park draws visitors from around the world to glide. Cities like Takikawa have shrunk since the coalmines closed in the seventies and eighties…But the thousand tourists who visit Takikawa annually to ride in a glider provide a good boost to the city.

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An Apprentice Boatbuilder in Japan

Douglas Brooks Japanese boatbuilding

I returned to Japan expressly to interview one of the boatbuilders I met on that first trip. Mr. Koichi Fujii was the last builder of taraibune, or tub boats, and with the help of an interpreter I did my best to begin documenting what he knew.

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Koya Abe: Selling Vintage Records in Tokyo

Koya Abe selling vintage records in Tokyo

Koya Abe spent most of the six-minute-long 2011 Tōhoku earthquake keeping his 78rpm records from falling off the shelves. The delicate collectibles are stored in open-mouth crates mounted on the wall of his Tokyo record shop.

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Chikamichi: The Shortcut

Chiori in Iya Valley - Issue 82

Subsistence farming in the mountains is not usually conducive to amassing any great wealth. But then I looked again at the houses and fields, a whole village created from nothing more than wood, bamboo, stone, clay, vine, straw, grass, and the knowledge of how to use them…

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Giant Bonsai

Kyoto Journal - Tree

 “Cut it down. You’ll have a better view of the rhodies,” one neighbor suggested.

But why? I loved seeing the fir’s textured bark arcing across the backyard and then shooting up to the sky.

“This is the most beautiful tree I’ve ever seen, “ my mother said. “It’s a giant bonsai without wires.”

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Victorian-era Dispatches from Meiji Back-Roads

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“The mosquitoes were in thousands, and I had to go to bed, so as to be out of their reach, before I had finished my wretched meal of sago and condensed milk. There was a hot rain all night, my wretched room was dirty and stifling, and rats gnawed my boots and ran away with my cucumbers.”

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Before you go, be sure to check out our latest issue:

KJ 97: Next Generations