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Where tea stirs remembrance

March 7, 2021

In a current landscape dotted with fast-food hegemony and the rapid erosion of lazy afternoons, is nostalgia enough to carry forth the legacy of Irani cafés in India?

Spring 2021 Reads from Tuttle

February 28, 2021

The roundup of new books on Japan food, culture and travel by Tuttle Publishing.

A life of art and activism

February 28, 2021

The life trajectory of Japanese American artist, activist, feminist and “Modern Buddhist Revolutionary” Mayumi Oda is recounted in her new autobiography.

The Big Picture: Birds’-eye Overviews of the Japanese Archipelago

February 27, 2021

Yoshida Hatsusaburo (1884-1955) was known as “the modern Hiroshige” and created over 2,000 maps in his lifetime.

Another Pool Party in Saigon

January 18, 2021

The joke of it is that, like a lot of people out here, he has no home to go back to. You don’t move to Saigon if your life is going well. He doesn’t even speak to his family. He’s lost touch with his real friends in England.

In the Cave

January 5, 2021

The cave with the hidden Book of the Dead is a powerful metaphor for the pandemic interval we’re experiencing, a between-space whose teachings are accessible if we have the right perspective.

Kiro: Carving out the Future of Hakone Yosegi Marquetry

November 24, 2020

The name of Kiro, a workshop specializing in Hakone yosegi marquetry, rendered using the kanji characters for “wood” and “path,” seems fitting for an art form that has seen remarkable innovation over generations and whose artisans continue to forge a path forward into the future. 

Treasures

October 18, 2020

I felt clean for the first time in my life. That’s what Aldous Huxley said when his house and everything in it was destroyed in a fire. I admired the man and read everything he wrote. And I longed for this kind of non-attachment, too.

Shared “Vision”: KYOTOGRAPHIE 2020 in Review

October 14, 2020

“Vision,” the theme of this year’s KYOTOGRAPHIE International Photography Festival, seeks to highlight photography’s power to overcome barriers and satisfy (in the words of New Zealand writer Katherine Mansfield) “that terrible desire to establish contact.”

Climate Crisis Sparks a Revival of Youth Activism in Japan

October 11, 2020

Youth climate activists are faced with the challenge of engaging a relatively complacent student population on an issue that seems much less immediate and visible than the presence of the US military in the 1960s did: environmental pollution and the emission of greenhouse gases.

A Rare Pleasure

October 2, 2020

The few translations that do exist of particular haiku poets have focused on male poets such as Basho, Shiki and Issa. For these reasons alone, readers should welcome the translation of the work of a premiere Japanese woman poet artist-calligrapher, Kaga-no-Chiyo.

A Culture of Simplicity

September 28, 2020

The simplicity of wabi-sabi is best described as the state of grace arrived at by a sober, modest, heartfelt intelligence.

The world of Japanese dango

September 11, 2020

How much do you really know about this quintessential Japanese snack?

Bringing the delights of hojicha tea to the West

September 10, 2020

KJ x Hojicha Co. KJ readers who have visited Japan before will almost certainly be familiar with roasted green tea—called hojicha in Japanese—which is invariably served upon sitting down in any restaurant or café. Moreish and refreshing served iced, and thoroughly warming and nutty when hot, it is one of those most welcoming aspects of Japan’s…

Seeking Ma

September 10, 2020

“There is something magical about a torii gate floating in the middle of a lake or shoreline. Once I got more immersed in the study of Japanese culture and religions I developed a parallel appreciation and respect for the symbolism and cultural importance they have to the Japanese people.”

Some Gravel, Some Stones: Nature, Art and Spirit in Japanese Gardens

September 10, 2020

Stephen Mansfield interviews Marion Poschmann, whose novel set in Japan, The Pine Islands, was winner of the Berlin Prize for Literature and shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize.

A Gourmet Journey Through Japan

August 14, 2020

Kokoro Care Packages are curated with natural products sourced solely from local farmers and producers in Japan, and can be shipped to wherever you are in the world.

NOTICE: Kyoto Journal is going digital til 2021

August 11, 2020

We have made the difficult decision to suspend our printing operation and sales of our subscriptions, until further notice. Back issues are still available and will be shipped to you if we can ship them to you!

Hiroshima Peace Memorial in Pictures

August 7, 2020

In 2015, Kyoto Journal writer and photographer Codi Hauka reported on the 70th Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony for OpenCanada. It was a hot and humid August day, volunteers passing out frozen hand towels and cups of ice water to the thousands of attendees. Elementary school children handed out programs that each contained a piece of…

A 75th Commemorative Year for the Hibakusha (2020-2021): Reflections on Our Tenuous Future

August 6, 2020

The year 2020 will long be remembered as the year of the coronavirus, unless more dramatic scenarios lie just ahead. Covid-19 has touched, perhaps transformed, humanity’s consciousness, and it will never be the same. Never before have so many of us been brought so close together while being requested to stay so far apart.

Hidden Masterpieces

August 2, 2020

As canals are to Venice, gardens are to Kyoto, even if mostly concealed behind the walls of private residences, or within sub-temples that have not transformed themselves into tourist attractions.

Ashwini Bhat: The #claynomad at home

July 14, 2020

From India, Australia, Japan, to the United States, and elsewhere she pursued variety and experience, which for a time was recorded on her social media under the hashtag #claynomad.

A Critical Moment for Japanese Art Curation

June 12, 2020

Morse warned that in 2020, over 75% of specialists in Japanese art would be at retirement age. She called on the museum community to focus on developing a new generation of curators in response to the impending exodus of experts from the field.

The Life and Times of Okada Torajiro and his Seiza Method of Self-Harmonization

June 5, 2020

To actually practice Seiza, one needs no group or leader, no visualization, vocalization, counting, or mantra repetition, and no special symbolic objects, apparatus, or vestments. Seiza is truly more zen than Zen.  

Hachise launches dedicated page for Otsu machiya properties

May 30, 2020

Our friends at Hachise have launched a new page for their beautifully-renovated Otsu properties.

Tadashi Nakajima: Encountering the God of Darkness

May 25, 2020

Cradled, we were slowly merging. This I knew, looking up at the dusty stars, losing all feeling in arms, in legs, smelling the hot rice odor which was now mine as well. I, the man I thought I knew, was gone, become a thousand others.

Sacred Desire Notes on Tamotsu Yato: Photographer

May 25, 2020

Tamotsu Yato embodied the erotic gaze — he was one of the earliest to do so openly. At the same time the gaze involved much more than simple erotics and it is this, no less, which merits our attention.

Cherry Blossom Epiphany: The Poetry and Philosophy of a Flowering Tree, by Robin D. Gill

May 25, 2020

“The Japanese have written thousands of poems about the cherry blossoms” is something I have said thousands and thousands of times over the years to my college classes in Japanese language…

Behind the Mask

May 23, 2020

In 1960, noh actor and mask carver Udaka Michishige was the last to be taken as an uchi-deshi, or live-in apprentice, into the home of Kongō Iwao II, the head of the Kongō School.

An Old Posttown Makes a Comeback

May 20, 2020

The City of Otsu and Hachise, a realtor specialising inmachiya renovations, are exploring ways to restore Otsu’s glory as a station on the old Tokaido overland route

A Definitive Ranking of the Ducks of Kamogawa

May 18, 2020

We’ve taken the liberty of identifying the most common species of duck inhabitants on the Kamo River, and ranking them from ugliest little duckling, to virtual bird of paradise. 

Kato Shuichi on Everything – one of Japan’s Last Renaissance Men

May 18, 2020

Cultural critic, literary historian, novelist, poet and dramatist, Katō is one of Japan’s major post-war figures.

Behind the Scenes of Miyazaki’s Magic

May 11, 2020

Alpert was employed at Ghibli’s parent company Tokuma Shoten and was tasked with making its films as successful abroad as they are in Japan.

The Passing of Beauty and Glory

May 11, 2020

What does the Tale of Genji suggest about sensitivity to the fleeting nature of human existence?

Demons, Misinformation and Kimochi

May 4, 2020

“This is a book that gives voice to the Japanese who feel exactly as I do, and who exist by the millions. Japanese bookshelves are filled with angry books all of on these subjects.”

The Shigeno Family of Dyers: Learning from the Past

May 2, 2020

The Shigenos’ expertise is Kyo-kanoko shibori (Kyoto’s fawn tie-dye) —a technique named for its characteristic dyed patterns which resemble the white spots on a young deer.

Japan’s Peacemaker: Shidehara Kijuro and the Origins of Article 9

May 1, 2020

In his book “Japan In The World: Shidehara Kijûrô: Pacifism and the Abolition of War,” peace historian Klaus Schlichtmann illuminates the true story behind Article 9, spotlighting the decisive role played by Shidehara Kijuro, Japan’s pacifist foreign minister.

Japanese Tea Houses Outside of Japan

April 27, 2020

A round-up of venues outside Japan that offer tea service and/or tea ceremony experiences.

My Year of Meats: An excerpt

April 27, 2020

It was Kato, my old boss at the TV production company in Tokyo where I had gotten my first job, strangulating English sound bites into pithy Japanese subtitles. Now, he said, he had a new program and could use my help.

Food: Our Five Most-Read

April 26, 2020

A passionate chef serving up shojin-ryori plant-based cuisine; the founder of Kyoto’s first (and so far, only) Korean teahouse; an encounter at an unusual temple restaurant and indigenous Ainu cuisine in central Tokyo: these are Kyoto Journal’s top five most read articles on food.

The view to Mt. Sumeru: Donald Richie on D.T. Suzuki

April 20, 2020

‘I think that Dr. Suzuki is for Zen what St. Paul is for Christianity. He was “a publicist.”’

Meeting the Emperor Meiji

April 15, 2020

I wasn’t totally sure I understood. It seemed like a strange thing to say — “Do you want to meet the Emperor Meiji?” I did know the Emperor had been dead since 1912…But this was Japan, where things are not always clear…

Last Man Standing

April 13, 2020

These young fellows nowadays, I tell you—not an iota of respect for their betters! These whippersnappers are so horrid, so horribly rude: they’ll look past you on the road, they won’t take any notice of you at all…

KJ Spring 2020 Reads: Titles from Tuttle

April 10, 2020

Our reviews of the latest Japan travel and culture-oriented titles from the Asia specialist, Tuttle Publishing.

The Kyoto City KYOCERA Museum of Art

April 8, 2020

After three years of much-needed renovation, the large Neoclassical building (with a “Japonesque” roof) located across the street from the Museum of Modern Art Kyoto, next to the Heian Shrine Otori,  is re-opening as the Kyoto City KYOCERA Museum of Art on May 7th, 2020.

Carving new paths for Tokyo artisan culture

April 6, 2020

Many artisans of traditional Japanese crafts are facing a growing problem: difficulty attracting apprentices to carry on the work in addition to decreasing sales as younger populations eschew traditional items for cheaper, trendier alternatives.

Oyako: An Interview with Bruce Osborn

April 3, 2020

Bruce Osborn’s Oyako (parent and child) series of portraits led to the establishment of an annual ‘Oyako Day’ (Oyako-no-hi), celebrated on the fourth Sunday of July in Japan.

Japanese Craft: Our Five Most-Read

April 1, 2020

Our five most popular articles on the subject of Japanese crafts.

Kyoto City relaunches kyoto.travel, the definitive guide for foreign visitors to the old capital

March 31, 2020

If you have ever connected to the Kyoto WIFI network at one of the more than 1,000 access points around the city, you will be familiar by now with the Kyoto Official Travel Guide at kyoto.travel, which is the first page to pop up on your screen. Now, Kyoto City has launched a highly anticipated…

Kyoto’s Gion Festival: Warding Off Epidemics for 1,150 Years

March 31, 2020

Thanks to their treasures, the Gion Festival floats have been famously referred to as “Moving Museums.” Like any museum, to stay vibrant the Gion Festival requires a quest, an investigation. Otherwise they risk becoming morgues of artifacts, meaningless to most people.

Kyoto Time Slip: Reliving Japanese History in 3rd Grade

March 27, 2020

In apparent contrast to ongoing governmental campaigns to internationalize its citizenry and promote futuristic technologies, Japan’s primary education has long endeavored to prepare students to face present-day challenges by imbuing them with mores and practices from a century or more ago.

Encounters with Japan: Asia Art Tours interviews KJ’s John Einarsen

March 21, 2020

In the two videos below: Kyoto Journal‘s founder and publisher, John Einarsen, talks to Asia Art Tours‘ Matthew Dagher-Margosian about the circumstances in which he first set foot in, and fell in love with, Japan in the 70s; his introduction to Harada Shokei and the beginnings of Kyoto Journal; and also about the technique of…

Afuru Nagatome: Ryokan owner

March 16, 2020

Afuru didn’t set out to simply create a comfortable, authentic space, she wants to bring the people staying in her guesthouse together, as well as introduce them to the locals of the area, who often pop in to chat or drop off some produce.

KYOEN in pictures

March 14, 2020

Over three weeks this winter season, Kyoto Journal, with the help of some wonderful sponsors (Kyoto City Tourism Association 京都市観光協会, SunM Color サンエムカラー, Shoyeido Incense 松栄堂, Shimaya Stays シマ屋, Kyoto Distillery and Alishan Organics) and the Terminal Kyoto, was able to bring together the work of 25 artists in what was a rather unusual but…

Walking the Kumano Kodo

March 1, 2020

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…

Land and Money

February 29, 2020

“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.”

Food from beyond the bridge of dreams

February 29, 2020

Although most people think of the ‘traditional’ Japanese cuisine as having its roots in the kaiseki of the late Muromachi and early Edo (1603-1868) periods, Japan and its way of eating are far older. To find out how and why the Japanese came to ‘eat with their eyes,’ it is necessary to cross a bridge of dreams.

Talking Architects

February 10, 2020

This collection of interviews, artwork, and newly-translated essays by and about 12 diverse postwar Japanese architects provides a fascinating “oral history” of Japanese society during the 1960s and 1970s, a period when the nation’s attention shifted from rebuilding from the ashes of war to finding its place in the international community.

“I thought we were China”: Ketagalan Media’s Chieh-Ting Yeh

February 10, 2020

It’s easy to assume that Chieh-Ting would be cynical about Taiwan’s future. But despite the many challenges he’s faced during the years he’s worked to support it, Chieh-Ting is cautiously hopeful, a fact that only further accentuates his affection for the small island he still calls home. 

Pruning the Branch: Pruning the Mind

February 4, 2020

Reading Cutting Back taught my untrained eye to more fully appreciate the complexities of Japanese formal gardens and the folks who are entrusted to maintain them.

Wu Wei-Cheng and the laissez-faire world of Taiwanese Tea

February 3, 2020

Wu insists that for a ceramic artist engaged primarily in making tea pots, the time spent imbibing tea far exceeds that of fashioning clay.

Taiwan, the hot spring paradise you never knew existed

January 31, 2020

Densely packed into an area barely the size of Switzerland are an astonishing one hundred hot springs that invite you to indulge in their restorative, mineral-rich waters.

Uncovering Japanese Gardens Outside of Japan

January 20, 2020

A selection of some of the most beautiful Japanese gardens outside of Japan.

Invitations to Stillness: Japanese Gardens as Metaphorical Journeys of Solace

January 15, 2020

The practice of garden-making in Japan has a long history and over the last 1500 years, there have been many changes in perceptions of what constitutes a garden.

Six Thousand Lessons

January 15, 2020

During these years of travel, my understanding of what diversity means has changed. I began with an intuition, that the world was, from place to place and from culture to culture, far more different than I had been led to believe. Later, I began to understand that to ignore these differences was not simply insensitive but unjust and perilous.

Where can I find special Taiwan issue KJ96 in Taiwan?

January 9, 2020

Looking to get hold of a copy of our latest issue in Taiwan? Pop by these retailers in Taipei and Taichung.

Announcing the KYOEN 京縁 Exhibition

January 9, 2020

Kyoto Journal is delighted to announce that we will be holding a special exhibition at the Terminal Kyoto in early 2020 from January 25 – February 18. Over recent decades, international recognition of Kyoto’s deep and rich cultural traditions has established the city’s reputation as a new international art center. A wide variety of cosmopolitan…

By Any Other Name…

December 30, 2019

Tiberiu Weisz contends that contact between the Hebrews and the Chinese started probably sometime around 980BCE. If this is true, Israelite presence would have left traces in the historical records kept by the Chinese since their earliest dynasties.

Matsumoto Hajime of Masutomi Soba Restaurant

December 23, 2019

“After the war, flour was rationed in Kyoto, so a fixed number of noodle manufacturers was established. The result is that all udon and soba noodles in Kyoto are basically alike…”

From Abacus to Zen: A Short History of Tuttle Publishing

December 23, 2019

The Tuttle story stretches back to the printer Richard Tottel (1553-1593) of Fleet Street, London, who first published Thomas Moore’s Utopia, and compiled the first English poetry anthology, Songes and Sonettes…

Confronting Disaster

December 23, 2019

In Ghosts of the Tsunami, Richard Lloyd Parry confronts us with the startling human reality of this astonishing disaster. Parry’s chief concern is with the harrowing events that transpired at Okawa Elementary School in Ishinomaki, a heartbreaking drama that is notorious in Japan but perhaps less well-known internationally.

New Life for Kyo-machiya

December 22, 2019

Hachise is a realtor that has come to the forefront of a growing city-wide endeavor to restore kyo-machiya. Starting in 2000, the company began to acquire properties for renovation and resale, hoping to spark renewed interest among locals who may otherwise have thought of machiya as stale relics of the past.

Coffee Ceremony with Doi Hirotomo

December 13, 2019

A report from a coffee ceremony with lacquer artist Hirotomo Doi.

Keeping it Local: KI NO BI Kyoto Gin

December 8, 2019

On a crisp autumn morning, members of the broader Kyoto Distillery community gathered for the yearly harvest of yuzu, one of the local botanicals that creates the distinct flavor of KI NO BI.

Senzo: The Japan Cosmology of Abdullah Ibrahim

December 2, 2019

‘For me, the application of the concepts of budo is the same as we play in jazz music. Musashi Miyamoto said, “Under a sword lifted high, there’s hell to make you tremble.” It’s basically the same principles when you play jazz music.’

Creating Space for Artistic Expression: Reflecting on Kyoto Experiment 2019

November 29, 2019

Last month marked the 10th edition of Kyoto Experiment (KEX), an annual International Performing Arts Festival that presented avant-garde works by eleven feature artists who represented six regions of the world, running from Oct. 5-27. This year’s theme, Échos-monde: The Age of Ecology, explored the subtleties and complexities of our subjective relationship with nature to…

Glossary of Japanese Onomatopoeia for Gaijin

November 27, 2019

While living in Hokkaido and studying for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, my friends and I surrendered to laughter every time we encountered Japanese onomatopoeia. Connecting these unique expressions with daily life as JET teachers became a useful, stress-free way to memorize them… 

Miksang Contemplative Photography Workshops in 2020

November 26, 2019

Announcing the dates for John and Mitsue’s Miksang Photography courses in Kyoto in late spring 2020.

The World in English

November 22, 2019

For Levy Hideo, the first Western author to write Japanese literature, the past speaks in tongues…

Ima Tenko: Butoh dancer

November 20, 2019

Ima Tenko believes that transforming butoh performance from a big-budget spectacular, as it was with Byakkosha, into the intimate encounter she performs today is much more sustainable.

KJ Autumn/Winter 2019 Reads: Titles from Tuttle

November 17, 2019

As part of their 70th-year anniversary celebrations, KJ has teamed up with Tuttle Publishing, the Asia specialist, for this four-part series.

Daijosai and Shikinen Sengu: First Fruits Twice Tasted: Renewal of Time, Space and Man in Japan

November 15, 2019

Through its rituals, Japanese society marks both historical time, that is, progressive irreversible time, and natural time, the cyclic eternal rhythm. Historical time was originally reckoned by counting the years from the enthronement of each emperor.

Minako Hiromi Exhibition at The Terminal Kyoto

November 8, 2019

Minako Hiromi’s new exhibition “An every-day life of reminiscence” (11.2–12.1, 2019) showcases her mesmerizing mandalas, each of which invite the viewer to explore the hidden stories in their stunning, hand-drawn detail.

Painting in the Light of Two Suns

November 1, 2019

The evolution of Teraoka’s oeuvre now can be explored in the monumental 400-page Floating Realities: The Art of Masami Teraoka, almost a catalogue raisonné. In addition to beautifully printed full color reproductions, the book includes a forward by Mike McGee.

Japan’s Other Emperor

October 23, 2019

David Kubiak presents a lively and engrossing romp through Japan’s history of imperial ascension, navigating the motley of plotting, deception, spiritualism, and debauchery that wrought the path to the Throne from the 14th to 20th centuries.

Call for Submissions: Stories from Hong Kong for KJ 97

October 14, 2019

We are currently requesting submissions of short fiction and creative non-fiction from Hong Kong to be featured in our Winter Issue No. 97, which will explore the theme of “Next Generations.”

The Natural Harmony of Mindfulness and Mind-Wandering

October 8, 2019

With unprecedented snowfall in Australia’s subtropical state of Queensland, hail storms in Mexico City and record high temperatures in Paris (45.9C) and Churu Rajasthan (50.8C), it is increasingly difficult to close our eyes to the consequences of global heating. When we see self-serving politicians and big business leaders in flagrant collusion, displaying no inclination toward implementing…

Haiku: Birth & Death of Each Moment

October 7, 2019

Haiku brings us the birth and death of each moment. Everything is stripped away to its naked state.

Bizen’s Past and Present at the Miho

October 3, 2019

With warm ochre blushes and the subtle textures of exposed clay, the ceramic style born out of Okayama prefecture’s Bizen is humble while retaining potential for visceral expression. The Fall show at the Miho Museum in Shiga prefecture, “Bizen: From Earth and Fire, Exquisite Forms,” running from September 14th through December 15th represents a rare occasion to view a diverse showing of Bizen ware and one which represents ceramic work as it evolved from is cultural emergence in the Momoyama Period (1573-1615).

Words Necessary and Unnecessary

October 1, 2019

Translating out of one’s original language into a second language is a risky endeavor. In the case of translator Goro Takano, with this exquisite and slightly quirky bilingual chapbook-object, he acquits himself well.

Hearing their Voices: the Afghan Women’s Writing Project

September 17, 2019

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.

Watching Kyoto Animation’s ‘A Silent Voice’ in the Aftermath of the Studio Attack: A Reflection On Loss

September 17, 2019

Watching A Silent Voice with the sober awareness that some of the artists who created it may have been slain is an unsettling perspective.* It is a burden of knowledge that coalesces into a lens of loss. This lens warps every scene, adding extra heartbreak to the sad moments and extra shock to the violent ones.

Stone Wall

September 16, 2019

The Japanese countryside is full of stone walls. They are not freestanding grey lines used for dividing property but rather buttresses that hold back the mountains and shape them into something that can be lived on and farmed.

When the Envoys Returned

September 16, 2019

After thirty years of cresting mountain-high surges, the envoys brought back eagle-wood, ambergris, and an essence distilled from rose petals.

Somushi: The Story of Kyoto’s First Korean Teahouse

September 13, 2019

“I wanted to create a space where people could have their senses stimulated by using natural material all around. At the start, I purposely didn’t put up signs for the restrooms, nor did we have a menu. I wanted people to use their instincts and figure stuff out — to think before immediately asking for what they wanted.”

The Politics of Memory: ICOM Kyoto confronts the role of testimony in museum narratives

September 10, 2019

“Museums are servants of memory,” said Bonita Bennet, Director of District Six Museum in Cape Town, during a plenary session at the International Council of Museums’ (ICOM) 2019 General Conference in Kyoto. “But the power they wield also makes them historical custodians of colonialism, and play a critical role in rituals of remembrance.”   This…

The International Museum Community Arrives in Kyoto

September 9, 2019

It is not uncommon for Kyoto’s streets to be filled with individuals immersed in the artistic and cultural atmosphere that suffuses the city. For the very first time, during September 1-7th 2019, those individuals represented museums of art, culture, history, and science from around the world. This year’s International Council of Museums, also referred to…

Making a Life—Not Merely a Living

September 8, 2019

“I think all mature people know they have to live with some level of contradiction, especially in our current society. The question is: how do you use your own creativity and resourcefulness to provide for your needs without relying entirely on the cash economy?”

Kazuki Takizawa’s Color From Green

September 4, 2019

While KJ is not primarily a literary publication, poetry has always been a vital component in our content mix. This poem by Elena Karina Byrne, along with others by Jane Hirshfield, Arkaye Kierulf, Tamara Nicholl-Smith and (in translation) Shinkichi Takahashi, is featured in KJ 95 (Wellbeing).

Dream Landscapes in 3D: An excerpt from Another Kyoto by Alex Kerr

September 4, 2019
another kyoto alex kerr kathy sokol

Another Kyoto is a “spoken” book which resulted from conversations between Alex and Kathy Arlyn Sokol as they explored temples and gardens over the years.

“We all have a brush”

September 2, 2019

“In Aikidō, the other guy may be big and strong, and you may be thrown down. But you have a chance to throw down the opponent, too. We had the nuclear arms race, that was probably the worst scenario of global collective suicide that we had faced as humanity, and we reversed it.”

Expanding the boundaries of Ceramic Art: Takuro Kuwata at Kyoto’s Kiyomizu Temple

September 1, 2019

The name of this exhibit, “Day After Day”, is an expression of the ritual of production, paralleling the daily ritual of prayer that takes place a temple, the continued action of which build to result in a gradual refinement and accumulation of moments that in turn drive future expression and creativity. Kuwata’s impressive and thoughtful work encapsulates the message that the FEEL KIYOMIZUDERA project endeavors to convey.

Capturing Wellbeing: Behind the Scenes of the KJ95 Cover Shoot

August 30, 2019

Sisters Reylia and Johnna Slaby, interviewed for KJ95: Wellbeing, were tasked with creating a stunning cover in a collaborative work of photography and painting.

For the love of neko

August 27, 2019

The Neko Project is a book that pays homage to Japan’s unyielding love of cats through its thoughtful and expansive photography. It is the result of an open call to their network of Japanese photographers on the theme of cats and features all the projects that were submitted, alongside historical anecdotes and insightful commentary in both French and English.

Surrounded by Trees

August 21, 2019

When I was six, I developed a grass-like skin disease around my neck after my family and I visited a hilly area in Tagaytay. My grandfather, Tatay Marcial, who believed it was a punishment from a naughty dwende (elf), warned me against expressing my admiration for plants, especially those that grow in the wild.

Exiled – A Tibetan’s Tale

August 19, 2019

“I was concerned about the many differences between India and China — the ways of thinking, for one — and India was not really up to confronting China. If I stayed in India, maybe I wouldn’t be able to do the kind of things I really wanted to do to help Tibet.” He eventually set his sights on Japan, with its own brand of Buddhism and spirituality, as his next home in exile.

Luck or Curse? The Stories of Two Hibakusha

August 15, 2019

“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.”

Re-opening Our Eyes

August 13, 2019

Naoyuki Ogino describes his work as “…documentary in the broadest sense. I am trying to omit fiction as much as I can in order to capture the very moment of non-fiction. I want to document …people, within their histories, societies, cultures, neighborhoods, atmospheres, environments or weather.”

Confessions of a Sushi Boat

August 11, 2019

I’m so tired of them washing me, or not washing me properly. The grains of rice tend to get stuck between my wooden planks. But when Chef Jiro Sakamoto does it, it’s always different. He gives me proper care and attention, pays heed to the details of my grooves and curves…

Announcing Kyoto Journal x Shoyeido

August 11, 2019

KJ is honored to be collaborating with the venerable Kyoto incense maker, Shoyeido, for our upcoming 95th issue on Wellbeing. Shoyeido has been in the business of crafting hand-blended incense since the early eighteenth century and it is the only company doing so in the ancient capital today. Incense has been an integral part of…

Inspired by Japan

August 11, 2019

A look at the work of foreign artists inspired by Japan: Denis Guidone, Elaine Cooper, Alessandro Bellegarde, David Stanley Hewitt and Deborah Davidson.

Cold War Modern and the Nagasaki Triptych

August 9, 2019

The English-speaking world had had to wait 35 years for the writings of the only trained Japanese scientific observer of the effects of atomic devastation.

A Familiar Environment

August 5, 2019

“Women authors in Japan are more or less par for winning the big prizes, and they’re publishing easily as much as men, but they’re not appearing in translation. There’s a movement to try and do something about it.”

Mastery of Movement

July 22, 2019

Shodō is the Japanese word for calligraphy. It means not just penmanship, but the Way, or Path of writing. In China and Japan, Shodō has long been regarded as one of the most important forms of art.

Mourning, Rokujizo, Sunday July 21st 2019

July 21, 2019

Ken Rodgers   Every ten minutes, with every east-bound train, another contingent of Kyoto Animation Co. fans descends the stairs at Rokujizo-Keihan Station. Mutely they join a line stretching from the station to an improvised, far-too-small tent in a cramped bicycle park, to offer flowers and prayers to the 34 victims of last Thursday’s tragic…

KJ Summer 2019 Reads: Titles from Tuttle

July 14, 2019

As part of their 70th-year anniversary celebrations, KJ has teamed up with Tuttle Publishing, the Asia specialist, for this four-part series.

Memory and Empathy in a Japanese School Lunch

July 7, 2019

This March 11th, as in recent years, schools throughout the country honored lives lost and a region destroyed through special meals which acknowledge loss and endeavor to strengthen community. The meals are a unique ritual for students to explore insecurity and encourage empathy.

Tumbling Assumptions

July 2, 2019

The author says she embarked on this year in Japan in order to undertake a spiritual practice of her own. She must occupy herself while her husband seeks Soto Zen priestly credentials by training in a nearby monastery, so she joins a pottery class as a deshi (disciple) of the elderly female teacher. But she cannot seem to make the dirt and water come together to make a smooth clay, either physically or metaphorically.

Kyoto Women Entrepreneurs: Kumakura Seiko

July 2, 2019

Kumakura Seiko first worked in theatre to increase awareness of societal issues in an appealing way. As an activist and a mother she has since used her experience to launch trailblazing community projects in Kyoto.

Meiji Poor

June 20, 2019

Huffman focuses his inquiry on the very poorest of Japan’s urban poor—the hinmin, or paupers, who flooded into Tokyo at a rate of up to 1,000 people each week in the late 1800s and early 1900s, victims of government policies that pushed farm families to starvation and forced their sons and daughters to seek jobs in the swelling cities.

Circling around Kyo-ryori

June 20, 2019

Whoever thought that food could shape a city and its culture in such a distinguished way?

Found in Translation: Teaching the art of the Japanese garden

June 17, 2019

Portland Japanese Garden’s Waza to Kokoro: Hands and Heart intensive training seminar to share with gardeners outside of Japan the skills, knowledge, techniques and philosophies that have resided mainly in the hands and hearts of Japanese gardeners for centuries.

Nagata Yuji: Mysterious Makie Artist at the Miho Museum

June 12, 2019

KJ intern Codi Hauka visited the MIHO MUSEUM for the press preview of their latest exhibition: Discovering Nagata Yūji, Unsung Makie Master, on until July 15. Makie (蒔絵) is the craft of using gold, silver and other metal powders to decorate lacquered objects that include everything from sake goblets to calligraphy boxes. It was developed…

Meld

June 7, 2019

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.

Monpan Shokudo

June 3, 2019

Monpan Shokudo is a homey and creative restaurant in Kyoto serving Mongoru Pan—Mongolian bread—alongside fusion recipes from around the world. There’s a particular character about Monpan, one that is difficult to describe, but that emerges through the life story of its co-owner, Haruhisa Kato.

Kazuo Ishiguro on Asian-British Writers

May 13, 2019

“Apart from a transient business community, there’s nothing in England that could be called a Japanese society. In addition, when I arrived in 1960, there were very few Japanese in England at all. Therefore, as I grew up, the problem of which society I belonged to never arose.  I now accept the fact that I am a mixture, a cultural compound.”

KYOTOGRAPHIE 2019: A review

May 9, 2019

KYOTOGRAPHIE has been successful partly because photographic images have the ability to transcend linguistic differences through ishin denshin: wordless communication, heartstrings vibrating in harmony.“Vibe,” which situates ishin denshin within a specific locale, is a fitting theme for the photography festival, now in its seventh year.

Discover KJ: Join us for a Talk and Q&A May 24!

May 3, 2019

<Japanese below> What’s the story behind Kyoto Journal? What topics does it cover? And how is it possible for a magazine to be run entirely by volunteers?   We’re excited to hold an event that will speak to all of these questions and more about the longest-running independent English-language publication in Japan! Join us on…

Landscape of Memory

April 29, 2019

If one thinks of Japanese civilization as a great tree, the most brilliant blooms and succulent fruits adorned branches represented by the cities Nara and Kyoto. To fully appreciate those flowers and fruits one must follow the course of investigation right to the roots. These are firmly set in the soil of the inaka, approximately in English, ‘countryside.’

Tengu

April 27, 2019

Osamu Dazai meditates on the haiku of Bashô, Bonchô, and Kyorai.

Where can I find Small Buildings of Kyoto II outside Japan?

April 27, 2019

Looking to get your hands on the little book? We’re thrilled to share these international stockists with you and hope that you enjoy wandering their aisles to pick up your copy, much like how John enjoys wandering the streets of Kyoto discovering the charm of the city’s urban fabric.

Consequential Legacies

April 25, 2019

I have come to believe that she is channeling Toscanini with her hands. Equally, I’m firm in the conviction that she is channeling a fabled Persian songstress with her soul.

The Other Japan: Voices Beyond the Mainstream

April 25, 2019

The Other Japan should be read by all students seeking a clearer view of Japan’s rich demo­graphic landscape.  

Tea and Women’s Empowerment in Modern Japan

April 25, 2019
Matcha Green Tea

“Coffee–table” books about tea tend to offer pristine views of paradise and bowls of world peace. Page after page of steamy shadows and shadowy steam, dewy landscapes fashioned by gods with impeccable taste…Enough!

Lemon

April 22, 2019

An impenetrable curse lay heavy on my heart. Call it an uneasiness, call it ill humors—like a hangover after drinking, you drink every day and there comes a time when it all might as well be a hangover. Well, that time had come.

A Child of All Time: Butoh Dancer Ohno Kazuo at 98

April 15, 2019

“The physical form I assume now is but the fruit of what I’ve inherited from those who have existed before me. What, you might ask, has become of our ancestors’ ideas and emotions? Where do you suppose our creativity springs from? There’s no way that it springs forth from our finite and limited knowledge of life.”

Engawa

April 10, 2019

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.

Cloudburst by Fujisawa Shuhei

April 4, 2019

In the daytime, Kakichi worked as a knife sharpener. He made his Edo rounds carrying a box of grindstones and files — the tools of his trade — and he sharpened kitchen knives, sickles, and scissors. Occasionally he was asked to set the teeth of a saw, and he carried the files for that purpose. And when a promising house caught his eye in the course of his rounds, he’d pay that house another visit in the dead of night.

Kyoto’s Festivals: Twelve Months of Everyday Transience

April 2, 2019

In Kyoto, one grows accustomed to the ongoing round of festivals at Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines—it’s said that you could attend at least one every day here, throughout the year. But the word ‘festival’ doesn’t quite capture the spirit of the majority of these events. With some notably lively exceptions, they are mostly rather formal annual cere­monies and rituals…

KJ Spring 2019 Reads: Titles from Tuttle

April 2, 2019

As part of their 70th-year anniversary celebrations, KJ has teamed up with Tuttle Publishing, the Asia specialist, for this four-part series.

Embrace slow travel: Head to “Kyoto by the Sea”: Part One

March 29, 2019

In the autumn of 2018, our Head of Design at KJ, Hirisha Mehta, was invited with a group of journalists to explore the northern and lesser-known areas of Kyoto Prefecture, called Kyo-Tango. This was part of an initiative by Kyoto by the Sea DMO (Destination Management and Marketing Organisation) to promote regional development through tourism.…

Concretizing the Japanese Dream: Alex Kerr on State-sponsored Vandals, True Romance and Contemporary Genii

March 28, 2019

“A revolution of a sort must take place but I am not at all sure that will happen in Japan. Part of the problem in Japan is that in some ways it’s very comfortable. Japan needn’t really do anything and could go right on as it is and no one would notice.”

Artists’ Fair Kyoto

March 27, 2019

For its second year, AFK has proved itself worthy of being a highlight of Kyoto’s artistic calendar, bringing the energy of Kyoto’s local and international community together.

On Learning Pottery in Japan

March 22, 2019

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.

Tanuki! Tanuki!

March 19, 2019

The popularity of the tanuki has much to do with its humorous and winsome image. With its plump body, awkward movements and simple-minded trickery, the tanuki presents a comical, safe and manageable impression compared to the cunning fox, the other trickster.

A Visual Treasure of Wisdom

March 13, 2019

By all standards, Murals of Tibet is not an ordinary book of Tibetan art history: it is itself a monument to Tibetan art.

Sar Kaley (these so-called lucky birds)

March 11, 2019

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?

The Vanishing Radish

March 3, 2019

As a farmer, it may seem commonplace that varieties of vegetables do not exist forever, but are in constant competition with each other for survival on our dinner plates, and that the development of modern agriculture and inter-regional (and now international) trade in produce have greatly accelerated this process.

Mizuki Shigeru: Giving form to kehai

March 1, 2019

“A ghost doesn’t just all of a sudden appear out of nowhere; they are of necessity, always announced prior to their actual appearance by a sensa­tion of kehai or something eerie. In other words, without the feeling of fear no ghost will make its presence known.”

Carpenter to the Gods: An interview with traditional carpenter Kawai Takami

February 26, 2019

“…when your efforts are such a tiny part of a project spanning thousands of years, you learn to appreciate the importance of small steps. If you imagine that your efforts are connecting to something eternal, speed seems relative.”

Chasen tea whisk-making with Tanimura Tango

February 23, 2019

One chilly Saturday afternoon in February several members of the KJ team ventured out to Nara for a workshop with Tanimura Tango-sensei, a master craftsmen of chasen: tea whisks used in the Japanese tea ceremony. We had previously featured Tanimura-sensei in issue KJ89: Craft Ecologies, in an article by Ai Kanazawa of Entoten. The workshop…

While the beans are cooking

February 22, 2019

Grandmother was cooking kidney beans in a big pot. Sayo’s father had gone to Kitaura to buy groceries. Takara Hot Springs had no guests. The hot spring inn deep in the mountains was soaked in rain and silence.

Re-evaluating Connections Between Food Waste and Hunger

February 18, 2019

The Japanese government reports food surplus at 3-4 million tons each year. In comparison, annual rice consumption is roughly 8 million tons. This is the equivalent of one bowl of rice being discarded for every two bowls eaten. Food banks will never be able “overfish” the vast ocean of food surplus that is available.

The Garden on the Table

February 18, 2019

Frozen pea and potato chip casserole. Long before I came to Japan, that dish, symbolic of all those Family Potluck church dinners of childhood, had cemented in my mind the basic incompatibility of religion and good food. Years, later, the experience of Japanese temple food, or shojin ryori, came as a revelation to me…

Satori in the Conbini

February 16, 2019

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..

The Hungry Ghost

February 14, 2019

She told me we wouldn’t eat any of the dumplings.  That, it was bad luck to eat food left out for hungry ghosts.  It would make them angry.  I remembered reading about hungry ghosts, wasted, mouths too small to eat.  They tried to possess people, sometimes the emotionally weak, so as to be able to taste the food they craved…

Kitchen Tales

February 12, 2019
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.

From the KJ Archive: Our Five Most-Read

February 2, 2019
Fukinuke-yatai painting techniques by which the viewer is invited to move from scene to scene. (Redrawn from Kasuga Gongen scroll c. 1300)

Spanning topics as diverse as the Japanese sense of place, the secret lives of the yakuza group and the arduous translation of a Heian-period classic, Kyoto Journal’s five most popular reads of all time are a testament to our vision: to delve deeply into timeless and emblematic facets of Asian cultures. 1. MA: Place, Space,…

Setsubun

February 2, 2019

Their faces twisted in a permanent grimace. With scimitar­ like tusks and beady eyes that darted from face to face, the Oni advanced slowly into the crowd. Two bony horns protruded from their manes of coarse, filthy hair, and each had a different shade of scaly skin – one red, one yellow, and the last blue…

Yakushima

January 28, 2019

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.

Where can I find Kyoto Journal magazine in Kyoto?

January 27, 2019

Visiting Kyoto? Great! Other than coming along to our office to say hello (please e-mail us in advance or come on one of our drop-in afternoons), you can purchase a copy of the current issue of KJ at lots of venues around the city. Here are some of our favorites:   Gion Tenro-in Looking for…

From “Rain and Thunder”

January 5, 2019

I once liked walking in the rain, the harder the better;
liked facing the drops and letting them drench my hair,
then follow individual courses under my collar…

KJ Winter 2018 Reads: Titles from Tuttle

December 28, 2018

As part of their 70th-year anniversary celebrations, KJ has teamed up with Tuttle Publishing, the Asia specialist, for this four-part series.

Everyman with a Thousand Faces

December 28, 2018

Isse Ogata is a renaissance man in the stratified world of Japanese arts. On stage, his breadth and depth are unparalleled and his artistry shows the marks of genius: original, immediately recognizable, and impossible to imitate.

Unstinting Courage

December 27, 2018

In his views Lu Xun showed himself to be an unstinting supporter of modernity, a fearless enemy of atavism, and a savage critic of his country’s culture.

Separately Ever After

December 27, 2018
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid cover book review

Throughout the novel, the writer introduces us to people from all corners of the world, who have walked through similar magical doors that lead them to other parts of the world. Although some of these people are peripheral to the plot, they throw light on the phenomenon of migration, helping us see how migration changes countries, cities, towns, neighbourhoods and people.

How to become Japanese: A Guide for North Americans

December 26, 2018

A tremendous amount of the stress of acculturation for North Americans in Japan arises from the interpersonal tension between their self-assertive and individualized selves and the self-effacing and collectively-minded Japanese.

Journeys of Reverence: A daughter and mother’s decades on the Shikoku henro pilgrimage

December 25, 2018

In 1995, inspired by Oliver Statler’s Japanese Pilgrimage, we first set out on the 88 temples pilgrimage around the island of Shikoku, known as the Shikoku Henro, stretching over a distance of 1200 km.

Last Light

December 21, 2018

In the late afternoon, while magic-hour light poured through the bay window opposite his desk, I watched the greatest translator of Japanese literature at work translating its most important modern novel, heretofore undiscovered by readers of English…

Persimmons

December 18, 2018

Split: a star-like reflection.
Flesh like the fire-belly of a newt,
only since coming each autumn
have I taken to swallow firm
fresh mouthfuls,
the jam-insides
of others sun-dried.

Tomorrowland

December 17, 2018

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…

KYOTO EXPERIMENT: In Conversation with Yusuke Hashimoto

December 12, 2018

“Before, the younger artists based here in the Kansai region who wanted to grow internationally had to always to go Tokyo in the beginning to be acquainted with the right critics or journalists living there who could help launch their careers. But I wanted to create an international platform so that these artists could easily make the connections here”

Welded from Nature: The Botanical Creations of Shota Suzuki

December 9, 2018

“In my work, I try to pursue the balance between the beautiful energy and sensual intimacy that I feel from both nature and metals. I can’t explain my love of plant motifs, I just never grow tired of them…”

Miksang Contemplative Photography Workshop in Kyoto

December 3, 2018

Making Contact: Relaxing This, Discovering THAT Learn to fully engage your eye, mind and heart in the present moment, see the world as it manifests, and express what you see with your camera. There is no better place to do so than in Kyoto: the city of Zen and ancient capital of Japan. Dates: May 8th-12th,…

Soaring over Sorachi

November 30, 2018

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.

The Chaebol: Geoffrey Cain on corporate governance and politics in South Korea

November 24, 2018

“If you look at the history of Korea, and even its current events the entire Korean peninsula has a kind-of dark story behind it. I think that Koreans have been disappointed by their leaders a lot and they have been disappointed by their businesses too. But the culture there is that you have to tolerate things in the national interest…”

Small Buildings of Kyoto is back!

November 13, 2018

We’re happy to announce that we have decided to publish a second book of John’s photographs in time for the holiday season! You can find more information and preorder your copy here. The photos have been making the rounds on social media, and thanks to you, they been picked up by Bored Panda for a second…

Julie Gramlich: Researching female entrepreneurship in Japan

November 6, 2018

Julie Gramlich worked for a female founder in the Silicon Valley before receiving the Japanese Education Ministry’s MEXT scholarship to study the entrepreneurial environment for women in Japan. As part of this research, Julie has interviewed over 20 Japanese women in a range of fields.

Thirty-Six Times

November 2, 2018

It is the mountain’s presence that most inspires when viewing Hokusai’s thirty-six prints. Rain or shine, snow or wind, clear skies – seen from village, sea, or city – the mountain is a timeline against which all of life is measured.

Rocking to the Flow

October 25, 2018

The 7th generation Ogawa Jihei (1860-1933), better known as “Ueji,” was a magician with water and stone and a pioneer of modern Japanese garden design.

Autumn exhibition of chashaku (tea scoops) at the Miho Museum

October 24, 2018

KJ’s volunteer translator Hiroko Kawano went along to the MIHO MUSEUM press event for their new exhibition: 100 Modern Tea Scoops: Connoisseurship and Society, now on until 02 December. The chashaku(茶杓) is a small utensil, typically made of bamboo, used in Cha-no-yu tea ceremony to scoop powdered green tea (matcha) into tea bowls ready to whisk…

A Cabin In The Pines: On Urban Suffering And Chinese Landscape Painting

October 19, 2018

When I moved to San Francisco, in my early twenties, I got my ass handed to me.  Not only was I a newbie in the big bad city, I was also fresh from the woods, from a six-month stint tracking raptors as a US Forest Service biological science technician…

Glimpses of Wutai–shan

October 18, 2018

In August 2018, KJ managing editor Ken Rodgers visited Shanxi Province, particularly Datong and Wutai-shan, motivated by having read the 9th century Japanese monk Ennin’s travel journals (Ennin’s Diary: The Record of a Pilgrimage to China in Search of the Law, Edwin O. Reischauer translation) and John Blofeld’s account of his time there in the…

The Manchurian Bodhisattva

October 18, 2018

In 772 the Tang dynasty emperor Daizong decreed that, for the welfare of the empire, Manjusri should be worshipped in every Buddhist monastery in China. Each of the five peaks (or ‘terraces’) of Wutaishan became associated with a different manifestation of Manjusri; accounts of visionary encounters and apparitions abound.

Setsubun Girl

October 18, 2018

An oni with a magical hammer comes to tempt her, dressed as a mortal man. He strikes his hammer once, and magnificent kimono appear from thin air, which she accepts with protest and delight.

Upholding Lightness

October 15, 2018

Italian and Singaporean design duo Francesca Lanzavecchia and Hunn Wai on their latest collaboration, the challenges in taking advantage of new technologies, and the tools the next generation of designers need to navigate their ever-changing field.

Kyoto Journal in Magazine B

October 14, 2018

Kyoto Journal’s John Einarsen and Ken Rodgers were interviewed at Social Kitchen for the Kyoto issue of Brand Documentary Magazine (or “Magazine B”), the publication from South Korea.

Records of a Travel-worn Notebook

October 14, 2018

During his copious amount of travel, Rowe grew particularly interested in the storytellers he encountered, especially those who are able to embed us strongly in the soil of those places where their stories take root.

Kyoto in the Mid-sixties

October 14, 2018

Waiting in the snow at the Ryoan-ji bus stop on a Kyoto winter morning in 1964, I was interrupted by a woman who came out of a nearby house and, seeing me standing there, went back inside and returned with an overcoat which she helped me into. It was a three-quarter-length brown coat, and warm…That was my introduction to Kyoto.

Hunter Gathering with Tomoko Konoike

October 8, 2018

This is a guest post by Anna Jamieson at Japan Objects (www.japanobjects.com)    This autumn, feast on the otherworldly paintings of Japanese artist Tomoko Konoike. Here at Japan Objects we spoke to Konoike about her show: ‘Hunter Gatherer’ now on at the Akita Prefectural Museum of Modern Art until November 25, 2018.     Tomoko Konoike…

Japan Dissents

October 7, 2018

Andrews doesn’t paint radicals as innocent victims, however. He describes in great detail the violent, sometimes deadly infighting that tore apart the protest movement in the 1960s and 70s, and argues that this self-destructive behavior nudged the general population toward political apathy in the decades that followed.

The Museum of Forbidden Art

October 7, 2018

The museum’s obscurity, and Savitsky’s own lack of social standing or professional reputation in the art world, meant that no one in authority thought to look at what he was doing. Savitsky took the opportunity to quietly buy up the works of Russian painters who had been killed, sent to the gulags in Siberia, or otherwise fallen foul of the State.

One-Straw Messenger: Larry Korn, author and natural farming advocate

September 27, 2018

Larry Korn was a 26-year-old farmhand from the United States living and working at a communal farm in rural Kyoto in 1974 when he decided to go and see for himself an enigmatic farmer-philosopher he had been hearing about through the grapevine in Japan: Masanobu Fukuoka.

ToPoJo’s “Deep Beatitude”

September 27, 2018

The whole matter of Beat Lit/Beat Culture’s engagement with Japan has been overdue for thoughtful attention for too long. With writing on Beat Generation personalities and their work at near-saturation point in English, Japan’s pivotal informative role in helping incubate Beat ethics, aesthetics, and insight practices especially has remained oddly elusive.

The Allen Ginsberg of Japan

September 27, 2018

Kazuko Shiraishi, in person, is similar to her poetry: vivacious, playful, intelligent, flirtatious and most important, loving. This year she turns 87, but still exhibits some of these characteristics, both in her personality and in her work.

Shokunin and Devotion

September 22, 2018

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.

Comfort

September 16, 2018

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.

Butsudan Boys

September 15, 2018

“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

September 15, 2018

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.

Knowing Nature

September 11, 2018

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.

Meet the KJ Team: Minechika Endo

September 10, 2018
Minechika

Lisa Nilsson continues our series of interview with our super volunteers. She speaks to KJ photographer, Minechika Endo.

Honyarado: Losing Kyoto’s Counter-Culture Hub

September 7, 2018

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.

The Glass Room

September 3, 2018

One enormous bowl, by contemporary American glass artist Dalie Chihuly, glows from a showcase beneath a transparent floor of glass. Frothy green tea is served to visitors in 19th century glass bowls from Italy. The keeper of the glass room is the shrine’s former head priest, 76 year-old Torii Hiroyoshi.

Meet the KJ Team: Maithilee Jadeja

September 3, 2018
Meet the KJ Team: Maithilee Jadeja

Lisa Nilsson speaks to some of our volunteers based in Kyoto. First up is Maithilee Jadeja.

Noguchi Isao on Heirloom Seeds

September 3, 2018
Beets

“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

September 1, 2018
Just Enough Living Green Traditional Japan Tuttle Cover

As part of their 70th-year anniversary celebrations, KJ has teamed up with Tuttle Publishing, the Asia specialist, for this four-part series.

Baisao, The Old Tea Seller: Life and Zen Poetry in 18th-century Kyoto

August 30, 2018

“I’ve got the whole universe in this tea caddy of mine.”

Into the Hills

August 30, 2018
Into the Hills

Up into the Northern Hills,
up the slender, winding road
to the last bus stop; get out, walk
the narrowing valley to the end,
climb steep stone stairs.
Pause there for a cup of tea.

Mio Heki: Kintsugi Artist and Urushi Master

August 28, 2018
Mio Heki kintsugi repairing ceramic cup in studio Kyoto Japan close-up

“I see urushi as a way to connect ourselves and our culture with nature in so many ways. Because urushi and kintsugi art is all natural, it is a good way to remind ourselves that we are all part of nature, being pieces of our universe.”

Interview with David Cozy, KJ Reviews Editor

August 27, 2018
David Cozy at Mt Fuji

“What I am most proud of as an editor is that I have expanded the stable of writers who review for us, both bringing in talented people new to KJ, and also enticing those who’d done other kinds of writing for KJ over to the reviews section.”

Kimono Design: An Introduction?

August 27, 2018
Tuttle Kimono Design

This is an extremely beautiful book. Every page explodes with color and pattern: exquisite embroidery, wonderful hand painting, complex dyeing, evocative renditions of natural motifs. An astonishing variety is presented.

An Apprentice Boatbuilder in Japan

August 25, 2018
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.

Distant and Far Apart

August 25, 2018
Seoul buildings

Watching painters work was something I’ve always been drawn to. How they licked their lips. How their eyes never seemed to blink. How they paced alone in cluttered rooms, stared at things as if defusing bombs, and every breath was a hiccup from boom…

Koya Abe: Selling Vintage Records in Tokyo

August 25, 2018
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.

Chikamichi: The Shortcut

August 25, 2018
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…

Matsumoto Sachiko: Bringing Japanese Crafts to the World

August 24, 2018
Matsumoto Sachiko: Bringing Japanese Crafts to the World

Matsuyama Sachiko is the founder of monomo, a business linking Japanese craftspeople with an international audience and encouraging cultural inspiration.

Giant Bonsai

August 24, 2018
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.”

Left Behind: A Selection of Poems by Xu Lizhi

August 24, 2018
Xu Lizhi Eleanor Goodman Chinese factory worker Kyoto Journal poetry Zhan You Bing

Xu Lizhi’s work is steeped in the vocabulary and experiences of the factories, a world in which he himself lived. The selection of poems presented here show his sense of desperation and acute observations of his internal psychology and the larger world.

American Bonsai: Life by a Thousand Cuts

August 24, 2018
American Bonsai photo

My father-in-law was a flyer. A man of the air and sky. A man of dreams and bravery, of duty and responsibility. He was fiercely loyal to family and country even when they were not so loyal to him.

KJ x Tea Life Audio

August 24, 2018

Tune in to TeaLife Audio, on everything Cha-no-yu!

Shokunin

August 24, 2018
Enomoto-san: Bamboo Weaver

The Shokunin Project is an ethnography of mastery— a study of the obsession and commitment to excellence it takes to dedicate one’s life to the pursuit of perfection.

Ostrich Defies Containment

August 23, 2018
john gohorry ostrich cadenzas kyoto journal

Adventures and fates of seven birds freed in the town of Okuma, Japan, following the Daiichi nuclear reactor meltdown in Fukushima, 11 March 2011.

A House Living with Tea

August 22, 2018
Totousha teahouse Kyoto

“Inspired by tea, the housemates show us that it is possible to live creatively and mindfully in this modern day world. It seems fitting that such a place exists in Kyoto, a city that epitomizes the juxtaposition of old and new.”

Small Buildings of Kyoto

August 20, 2018
Small Buildings of Kyoto

Small Buildings of Kyoto features 100 images of the quaint homes, businesses, workshops, as well as the occasional neighbourhood shrine and teahouse, that make up the fabric of Japan’s ancient capital.

Engineering the Japanese Islands

August 20, 2018
inoshishi

“Like all peoples on the planet, Japan has a complicated relationship with the natural world that’s shaped by religion and economic behavior and political practices, but certainly the notion that the Japanese enjoy a greener national philosophy is misguided. It does not hold up to historical scrutiny.”

Meditation on Sarasôju

August 19, 2018
Sarasoju

sarasôju blossoms       

in the morning
shining with dew
in the evening
moldering

A Universal Korean-Japanese Story

August 19, 2018
Pachinko Min Jin Lee

Lee opens this epic narrative of the lives of Korean immigrants to Japan in the fishing village of Yeongdo—“a five-mile-wide-islet beside the port city of Busan”—in 1910, the same year that Japan formally annexed Korea. She concludes it in Tokyo in 1989…

The Green Summer Wind

August 19, 2018
basho-john-givens-fiction-kyoto-journal

The old man opened his travel pouch and removed a roll of rice paper. He lifted out his writing kit—a bronze tube ending in a bulbous bronze pot fitted with a tight lid, like a metallic leek with a metallic ball-onion fused on at one end. The tube held his writing brush, and the onion-pot was stuffed with wadded cotton fibers soaked with ink.

Gourmet Biking in Tohoku

August 19, 2018
Gourmet Biking in Tohoku

Last autumn, Lianca Van Der Merwe was invited to participate in a “Fooding Tour” of Tono, Iwate Prefecture conducted by Tokyo-based Cuisine Press (r-tsushin.com) and “Or Waste?” (or-waste.com), an NPO aimed at combatting food waste.

Naoko Nakasone: Rejuvenating Spirit Food in Okinawa

August 19, 2018
Ukishima Menu

“When people grew millet and grains, they didn’t need to scramble for food. Scrambling causes conflict, but in the absence of scrambling there was peace. For this reason, people really appreciated millet and served it to the gods as an expression of gratitude. “

Victorian-era Dispatches from Meiji Back-Roads

August 18, 2018
Isabella-Bird_Meiji-backroads-Japan

“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.”

Moon Landings

August 17, 2018
John Einarsen Sacha Idell fiction

I let Grace pick where we lived. No, Grace had opinions about where we lived, and I did not. We were together because we had nowhere better to be.

Living Kagai Culture: Field Notes from Kyoto’s “Flower Towns” 

August 17, 2018
The English-speaking maiko Tomitsuyu of Tomikiku Teahouse, Gion Higashi

The characters for kagai, Kyoto’s geiko districts, are often translated as ‘flower town’. Early in my research I began exploring this metaphor of a garden for the kagai’s cultural ecosystem. I soon discovered that, as in gardens, there are many layers, perspectives and influences.

Sweat for a Few Noodles: Agung Parameswara

August 16, 2018
AgungParameswara_MieLethek6

A glimpse into the traditional process of making Mie lethek (in Javanese, “dirty noodles”): a staple of Indonesian cuisine.

The Potter and the Cook

August 16, 2018
The Potter and the Cook

Soon after I met my partner, the potter Hanako Nakazato, she gifted me an almond shaped bowl glazed in gray with a silver stripe running down the center…

Bali in my Mind: The Photography of Aimery Joëssel

August 16, 2018
Bali in my Mind 8: The Photography of Aimery Joëssel

“Bali in my Mind is part of an ongoing work that I am creating about the Balinese People, from the perspective of a foreigner living in, and loving Bali, but at the same time capturing a side that many tourists don’t see.”

Each Moment, Only Once: The Paintings of Herbert Sax

August 16, 2018

Practicing brush movement in ink allows me, even nowadays, to re-connect in meditative gestures to the unknown stream of life in my being, and gradually over the last fifteen years, I have also expanded this ability to paint intuitively in colour – and this process is still ongoing.

Mark Edward-Harris: The Way of the Japanese Bath

August 16, 2018
Mark Edward Harris onsen Japanese bath Kyoto Journal photography

“My first Japanese hot spring experience in Beppu, a town often shrouded in water vapor on the southern island of Kyushu, converted me into a furo-holic (bath-aholic) in the early 1990s. Two decades later, I still find the magical waters an endless source of both visual and visceral pleasure.”

The Japanese Postcard Collection of Graham Bowyer

August 16, 2018

“Being interested in gardens in Japan, I decided to investigate whether old picture postcards of Japanese gardens were also available and this has developed into a collection of more than 500 mostly from the period 1900 to 1930s.”

The Art of Neuroscience: Greg Dunn

August 16, 2018
Synaptogenesis Neuropore

While completing his doctorate in neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania, Greg Dunn was elated to realize that he could fuse his passion for neuroscience and Asian art together…

Shin Maruyama: Gardens and Water Sculptures

August 16, 2018

“I throw water into the air, and in mid-flight it changes shape constantly, being pulled by gravity and bursting with surface tension. Each flight barely lasts more than a second.”

Northern India and the Dalai Lama: Photography by Julie Hall

August 16, 2018

“His Holiness is an astonishing energy and presence. It felt as if the whole of Zanskar valley lit up when his helicopter arrived and remained that way until he left. A very special tingle in the air. “

Stepping into Metamorphosis: The Shoes of Masaya Kushino

August 16, 2018

“My work is not just about the technical details of making a shoe, but an exploration of a fantasy, a story or something historical.”

Look How Far the Sun Fell

August 9, 2018
magda rittenhouse shanghai kyoto journal

Bathwater swallowed the tube with a nervous plop and the ripples lapped gently at Yasi’s stiffening chest. The once comforting smell of tobacco was swiftly replaced by the tang of burning hair and he could not fight through the powerful clench of his jaws to scream…

Chiemi Ogura: Bamboo Craftswoman

August 8, 2018
Chiemi Ogura bamboo craftswoman Kyoto photo by Irwin Wong

Chiemi weaves her intricate bamboo jewellery from her inner-west Kyoto home studio. Everything step is done by her and by hand, from cutting strips from raw, Kyoto-sourced stalks, to the final dying that washes the pieces in unique wine, turquoise, and emerald shades.

Talking Yunnan

August 8, 2018
Baihualing-yunnan

KJ’s director Lucinda Cowing spoke to Matt Dagher-Margosian, CEO at Asia Art Tours (www.asiaarttours.com), about Yunnan Province, China, where both have spent considerable time. Bordering Tibet to the north, Myanmar to the West and Vietnam to the South, the region has been exposed to the cultures of continent in ways that the rest of the…

A Distant Flickering Light: The Hibakusha Peace Movement

August 7, 2018
The Hibakusha Peace Movement

Mrs. Koko Kondo showing the manuscript written by her father, Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto, that inspired John Hersey’s classic, Hiroshima. Do you think the Hibakusha are still important? They are still very important. This is because those individuals of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the only humans who have ever experienced and survived a nuclear bombing. That…

Kimono Style – A Guide

July 25, 2018
Kimono Style - A Guide

Guest post by Martin McKellar I respect the versatility of traditional Japanese kimono. What could give more convenience than a sleeve, the end of which serves as a pocket? How many times have I had to wrestle an item out of my front pocket while I sit scrunched up in the car in traffic? The…

The Great Vacancy (Part II)

July 21, 2018
The Great Vacancy 11

Having caught a glimpse of Takata’s future, I decided to take action…But should I, as an outsider who arrived in this community some six years ago, continue to pursue this work while members of the community are pursuing their own interests and doing little to help out?

Interview with Mitsuru Yokoyama, Tatami Artisan

July 18, 2018
建仁寺_黒畳_20180514_©Naoyuki_Ogino-4861

“What I make, and all Japanese craftsman make ages with you. This is an investment in yourself, your life.”

Reflections on the Singapore Summit: An Interview with Lee Jae-bong

July 12, 2018
Reflections on the Singapore Summit: An Interview with Lee Jae-bong

This interview with Lee Jae-bong, a Professor of Peace Studies of Wonkwang University, South Korea, was conducted in the early afternoon of June 12, 2018 while the United States-North Korean Summit was taking place in Singapore. Would you please express your overall view of the significance of the Singapore Summit, which is being conducted as…

Ayano Tsukimi’s “Kakashi-no-Sato”

July 10, 2018
Kakashi-no-Sato

Around 15 years ago Tsukimi made a scarecrow (kakashi) to protect her vegetable garden, basing it on her father’s appearance. Her neighbors enjoyed this whimsical inspiration, and since then she has continued to make these figures, many of them based on present or former village residents…

Exploring Shiga: The Sacred Sites of Otsu

June 23, 2018
Ukimido Shiga 1

KJ’s Hirisha Mehta and Lisa Nilsson were hosted by Yukiko Reis at Biwako Visitors Bureau on an excursion of Otsu’s most important sacred sites, ahead of KJ’s Autumn/Winter issue: “Devotion.”   Situated on the south-western shores of Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest freshwater lake, Otsu is the capital of the scenic Shiga prefecture and the best…

Toyama: The Venice of the East

June 21, 2018
Toyama-ken Gogoku Shrine-min

In May this year, KJ’s Maithilee Jadeja and Minechika Endo joined the 23rd ‘Mizu no Miyako: Toyama Shuzai no Tabi,’ an annual press tour of Toyama City organized by Good Luck Toyama, in the company of journalists and photographers from around Japan. Located on Honshu island’s Japan Sea coast and just under 3 hours away…

The Art of Island Time

June 10, 2018
Walking Ark, on Ogijima by Keisuke Yamaguchi

One element that visitors must not lose sight of when they attend the Setouchi Triennale is that the showcasing of art is almost secondary, or rather a “hook” in order to showcase the islands themselves. The goal is to raise awareness about the dire effects that depopulation has had on those insular communities that used to play a very important role in the social and economic fabric of this part of Japan

Interview with Venantius J. Pinto

May 22, 2018
Venantius issue 80

The New York based artist Venantius Pinto describes himself as an artistic labourer and his drawing as an organic process.

MA: Place, Space, Void

May 16, 2018

Place is the product of lived space and lived time, a reflection of our states of mind and heart…

Shiraiwa-yaki Reborn

May 11, 2018
Shiraiwa-yaki Reborn

The new enterprise is called Wahee-gama, in honor of Sunao’s 19th century ancestors, and it is located in a secluded spot amidst rice fields at the edge of the foothills where Sunao’s ancestors built their kilns and fired their wares during Shiraiwa-yaki’s golden age.

KYOTOGRAPHIE Breaks New Ground

May 6, 2018
Ono Tadashi Coastal Motifs

Kyotographie seems to be not merely bringing people to hidden or at least underutilized parts of Kyoto, but taking an active role in developing and revitalizing areas that are in dire need of a pick-me-up.

Where to go in Kyoto and Shiga this season

April 30, 2018
ume-blossom-night-sunai-no-sato-grounds-shiga

Ukishima Garden Kyoto: Shojin-inspired, vegan cuisine in Kyoto Everyone knows how difficult it is to find vegetarian and vegan food in Japan: that tofu soup might contain dashi made from bonito stock, or sweet potato tempura cooked in the same oil as for the meat and fish! But when in Kyoto, look no further than…

1970s Kyoto

April 17, 2018

My roommate moonlights as a desk clerk at a guest house for foreigners and cuts most of his classes so he is seldom home. Most of the other boarders spend evenings in each other’s rooms screaming and jostling each other amid the familiar click and clatter of mahjong pieces being scrambled across a kotatsu table. This is there last fling at wasting time before the responsibilities of company employment and family beckon after graduation.

Ladies’ Night: Circling the Bases on Okinawa

March 14, 2018

In Okinawa, I met a lot of people — locals and retired American service members and their families — whose worlds, whose lives, had always been this mishmash of Okinawa, the U.S., and Japan…

The Sword and the Scoop: Merchandising the Way of Tea in Changing Times

February 26, 2018
golden tea room

There is no doubt that Rikyu was a change agent…He captivated the attention of the most notorious warlords of the time and convinced them that mastery of chanoyu was the penultimate mark of an action hero; carving tea scoops would be a better use of their swords.

Rescuing and Protecting Sumatra’s Critically Endangered Orangutans

February 20, 2018
oranguatan rescued palm oil plantation

The Orangutan Information Center (OIC) is a trail-blazing organization constituted of a team of dedicated Indonesian conservationists and veterinarians determined to save the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan from a host of threats…

Checking out: The Final Days of Hotel Okura

February 20, 2018
Hotel-Okura

The announcement that Tokyo’s iconic Hotel Okura was slated for demolition in the summer of 2015 reverberated around the world, and was duly met with harsh criticism.

KJ on Monocle Radio

February 18, 2018

KJ’s Director, Lucinda Cowing, went to Monocle Magazine‘s London headquarters at Midori House to speak to Henry Rees-Sheridan for The Stack, their radio segment on “the people and players shaping the future of print media.” She admits to having gone off on a bit of a tangent, but hopes you enjoy the short interview nonetheless.…

God in Pictures

January 10, 2018
Korean shaman painting

I was baffled by her effort to pay homage to a large, framed (glass, metal) painted image of the mountain spirit (a wizened old man with a tiger and young attendant) that was up a pathway on the north side of Manisan Mountain peak, when we could actually at minimum address the spirits of the peak in front of us.

Kurahashi Yoshio: Shakuhachi Master

November 1, 2017

As with other arts, shakuhachi’s “traditional” characteristics are constantly evolving. Hesitating to call himself traditional, sensei’s eyes light up when discussing how the music is changing.

Buddhism Engaged

October 24, 2017

BUDDHISM
BY DAVID COZY

Buddhist teachings, Loy believes, can help us to understand the true nature of lack and the havoc it causes, and because they can perform this necessary function, he feels it is important that Buddhism remain vital in the twenty-first century.

Exploring Shiga

October 19, 2017
Shirahige Shrine

KJ’s Anna Malpas and Minechika Endo spent the day exploring glorious Shiga, just a short train ride away from Kyoto! We were treated to some of the incredible tastes of Shiga, from the delicious Matsu no Hana sake, to a local delicacy called funazushi – a fish that has been packed in rice and fermented…

Ties that Bind

September 15, 2017

The relationship between Grandpa Thong-in and Grandma Jan became more intense, to the point that on some days he would arrive at dawn and not leave until after dusk.  This very much upset Grandma Jan’s daughter, who felt utterly ashamed by her mother’s obnoxious behaviour…

The Way of Food

August 10, 2017

Sen Sumiko (1920-2004) was the daughter of Yukosai, the ninth grand master of the Musanokoji branch of the three Sen families descended from Sen Rikyu and the mother of the present, eleventh grand master, Futessai Sōshu.

Kham & Larung Gar: A photographic meditation

May 13, 2017
Kham & Larung Gar 8: A photographic meditation

Politically, Kham has been, and still is, a very troubled region. In 1959 after the Chinese invasion and the national uprising many people were killed, or lost their homes and had to take refuge, mostly in neighboring India.

No Translation Needed: KYOTOGRAPHIE 2017

May 3, 2017

The theme of KYOTOGRAPHIE 2016 is “Love,” a sentiment that is seemingly-universal yet highly-fraught in ways that vary widely from culture to culture. The festival’s organizers do not try to reconcile the differences but rather lay out the debate in spatial and visual terms.

Formative Memory: The Thirteenth-century Mongolian Invasions and their Impact on Japan

April 26, 2017
mongolia invasions of japan kyoto journal

The second Mongolian invasion of Japan was like a sequel to a blockbuster movie; bigger in scale, larger cast, bigger budget, and the same director (Kublai Khan).

Troopers’ Inn

April 25, 2017

The boy Hisashi was drawing a picture of horses.  He was drawing three military mounts galloping together, seen from the side…

The True Japanese Art Form: “If it’s not Doublethink, it’s not CM”

April 21, 2017

Certainly in terms of television commercials, the importance placed upon CM — “Commercial Messages,” as we Japanese call them — Japan is without parallel on the face of the earth.

Vassal Beats Lord: Benkei and Yoshitsune in the Noh Play Ataka

March 8, 2017

Ataka reveals an aspect of unique Japanese spirituality. While it is a challenging performance for actors that requires subtle skills instructed orally by a master, the story structure involves a powerful psychodrama, and the roles and presentation evoke the audience’s emotions directly by the senses without depending completely on the words.

The World, the World

December 21, 2016

Monks and horsemen
move through wind-churned ice crystals
scaling vertical circles of sound.

In the Realm of the Bicycle

November 20, 2016

I first noticed them, the fact of their everywhereness, during my daily commute to and from work, as they stood and leaned and laid and zipped around in all the conditions of life itself…

Rediscovering Kyoto

November 13, 2016

I work as a guide for foreign tourists and though I mean to introduce them to the charms of Japan, instead it is often they who remind me of my country’s beauty.

Turtles All the Way Down

October 15, 2016

To add credence to our myths, we enmesh them in Big Stories, such as the Bible and Buddhist sutras. These Stories try to explain it all, but inevitably fall far short. Their promise of absolute truths is empty since these Big Stories too were (and forever are) constructed.

The Dazzling Night

October 7, 2016

A Noh Play in English about Katherine Mansfield.

Nama Chocolat Organic Teahouse

September 25, 2016

Nakanishi Hirofumi’s signature Sweet, Bitter and Matcha nama chocolates reflect modern tastes while paying tribute to Kyoto and its centuries-old artisan heritage.

Unbridled Perception

September 13, 2016

The founders of the Miksang Institute for Contemplative Photography bring their practice to Asia with a pioneering workshop in Japan.

Half-Awake

September 11, 2016

Dalai Lama Awakening is a documentary film by director Khashyar Darvich. In what the director claims is an uncompromised version of his previous film Dalai Lama Renaissance, 40 Western thinkers gather in India to meet with the Dalai Lama to transform the world.

The Garden View

September 3, 2016
Shisendo

“My idea was to create photographs that explore this undefined border between private and public space by photographing the garden from deep inside the temple, balancing the areas of the tatami/ meditation space and the garden space equally in the image.”

Balinese Canoes

August 13, 2016

When I speak of the disappearance of boats, I do not mean pleasure yachts, nor do I mean the monoliths of modern merchant ship navigation like super tankers…. Rather, I am talking about the canoes and planked craft of indigenous watermen the world over…

Holding the Ashen Bark: Voices from Hiroshima on the Historic Visit by President Obama

July 28, 2016
hiroshima couple

“Why do we come to this place, to Hiroshima?” President Obama asked himself and the world in his historic speech on May 27th, 2016. I too, ask myself why I’ve been to Hiroshima over and over, and why I took the chance to witness this historic visit by the then-sitting US president.

Boundaries

July 17, 2016

I look outside again and something happens, at once strange and wonderful. I breathe, deeply, and the universe inhales with me. Suddenly, and with great force, the air expands…

Dream Corridor

June 23, 2016

It all began in 1980, when I was 29, with the first of a series of vivid dreams. These occurred at dawn and continued through four summer mornings. I would find myself in an unfamiliar yet comfortable foreign land, with men, women and kids whom I cared for, yet could not upon waking recall ever having met…

Japanese Courtyard Gardens

April 18, 2016

The tsubo garden is contained inside a building, like a jewel in a box…

The Breast

March 13, 2016

A noise . . . something was making a noise. . . . Concentrating all the strength she could muster in her semiconscious state on that thought, Hiroko­ began to awaken with difficulty from the depths of a deep, dark sleep.

The Things We’ve Gone Through Together: Children orphaned by AIDS build a loving family in rural Cambodia

December 26, 2015

I have come as a volunteer from the United States, to live with children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic that has raged in Cambodia since the 1990s…

Kyoto Waters

November 6, 2015

Kyoto exists in layers of wildness and control; something built juxtaposed with something natural: one against the other, layered, intertwined, spiraled infinitely around the plain, a kind of DNA of place.

Where Ainu food, culture, and community meet: Interview with Teruryo Us

October 30, 2015
harkor ainu restaurant tokyo cuisine japanese

“Ainu food is more based on the natural flavors of ingredients, rather unlike Hokkaido foods, which rely on strong flavors. We just use salt for seasoning; no additives. Nowadays more and more people, kids and adults alike, have allergies… Kids with wheat or butter allergies can eat our dumplings or rataskep here safely.”

Facing Self, Reality

October 26, 2015

Naikan, which means “introspection” in Japanese, implores us to look not merely within but beyond ourselves by routinely asking a set of three questions…

The Bride of Boneyard Kitaro

October 16, 2015

When Nunoe’s uncle told the family he’d found a match for her in a 39 year-old veteran who’d lost his left arm in the war and wrote comic books in Tokyo, Nunoe’s father rubbed his chin and said “make it happen.”

The Philosopher’s Walk: Nishida Kitaro’s Contemplative Route

October 15, 2015
Philosopher's Path Walk - Kyoto Journal

Taking a daily walk helped him to switch his mood. He therefore began a daily routine, walking not only to the Silver Pavilion (Ginkakuji) but to the Honen’in and Nanzenji area, where the scenery is exquisite.

More than a Rock: Photographing Kyoto’s Gardens

October 13, 2015

Love of rocks and gardens is what lured me to Japan. During an extended visit I photographed gardens in Kyoto every day for a year…

Space Tunnels: Rites of Passage to Places of Stillness

October 5, 2015

The original site of Shisen-do isn’t physically expansive, however the experience of its entrance passageway creates an impression of deep space. One third of the site appears unused or “wasted” just on the approach.

The Crisis of Japanese Democracy

October 4, 2015

The basic and ongoing challenge to any democracy is that its citizens need to have free and open access to unbiased information. They must further be presented with alternative domestic viewpoints and varying historical narratives as well as being engaged in critical dialogue with the larger world beyond.

Nishio Haruo: Thatcher

October 3, 2015

North of Kyoto city lie the satellite communities that make up the country town or cho known as Miyama — famed for its thatched houses, and home to thatcher Nishio Haruo…

The Art of Setting Stones

October 3, 2015

In Japan, garden materials—plants, stones, lanterns, and the like—make rounds through gardens like bees at flowers, and though their journey is less fleet, like them they occupy any one spot only temporarily. Those that remain in place for centuries are rare; most are destined by the vagaries of history to a more transient life.

Kyoto’s Photo Family

September 26, 2015

With some 140 published books over four decades, Mizuno Katsuhiko has been influential in defining Kyoto’s natural beauty and stimulating Kyoto people’s pride in their city. As a child, Mizuno’s daughter Kayu accompanied him on many of his photo outings…

Partitioned Views

September 15, 2015

Kyoto, described by photographer Ben Simmons in Kyoto Gardens as, “a unique treasure of concentrated beauty and spirit found nowhere else,” is a good place to start an exploration of the Japanese garden.

Tibetan Butter Tea and Pink Gin: Life in Old Darjeeling

September 5, 2015
Darjeeling

My grandmother compiled a cookbook, written out in a foolscap quarto notebook in her small, neat hand. It had recipes for everything from aloo dhum potato curry to hot ale punch to American fudge, and included meal plans and guest lists…

Be a Fool! Fukushima-Roshi on Zen in America and Japan

August 16, 2015

“…understanding Zen through the intellect is a mistake. That is why in the first three years of my own training, Shibayama-roshi kept on telling me for a whole year, “Be an idiot! Be a fool!”

The Lists of a Lady-in-Waiting

August 5, 2015

A thousand years ago a lady-in-waiting in the imperial court at Heian Kyo (modern-day Kyoto) dipped her brush into the well of her inkstone and watched the bristles swell with ink. She lowered the brush onto the paper spread in front of her and moved her hand rapidly…

A Small Restaurant on the Edge of Life

July 25, 2015

Dread clouded the joy that surged in Tomé’s heart when she heard the voice call out “Obachan, I’m back.” In May, 1945, the only pilots who came to Chiran were volunteers for the Special Attack Corps, boys who rammed their fighters into the American ships off Okinawa.

My Part in the Downfall of Ferdinand Marcos

July 21, 2015

Tabasco sauce? Great topping for ice cream. Jalapeños? Mild, mouth-refreshing chewing gum… I’d graduated, man. Nothing could touch me now…

Japanese Tattoo

July 3, 2015

I had become entranced with irezumi, more elegantly known as hori-mono, the Japanese tattoo. Yet I had known, from its first vague awakening, that my interest somehow lay deeper than my skin…

Real Geisha Real Women

June 27, 2015
Kyoto Journal geisha

“Real Geisha Real Women,” is a remarkable documentary that opens the shojifor us all, if only for 52-minutes. It allows us a peek into the private lives of 10 active and retired Kyoto geisha…

Vietnam War Poetry

May 7, 2015

Teresa Mei Chuc reads her poetry from Remembering Viet Nam.

Shokunin by Michael Magers

April 24, 2015

It’s been said that in Japan objects are born not made. In a society that increasingly values speed over quality, handcrafted goods retain a heartbeat lacking in the mass-produced world. The master craftsmen (and a few women) who commit their lives to honing perfection to its sharpest edge are known as shokunin.

Kyoto Excellence: Kyotographie International Photography Festival, 3rd Edition

April 23, 2015

APRIL 18-MAY10: Fourteen exhibitions on the theme of “TRIBE,” spread across Kyoto in brilliantly-coordinated venues ranging from a sub-temple of the city’s first Zen monastery to traditional inner-city machiya to a temporary Shigeru Ban cardboard-columned pavilion in front of City Hall to “anti-fashionista” Rei Kawakubo’s local Comme Des Garcons concept store.

Off the Wall: Yuzen and Katazome Dyeing Take Flight

March 18, 2015

“Usually my pieces grow from a bird or an idea, sometimes an endangered species that has some story around it, like fragmentation of habitat….”

The Optimistic Vision of Kitagawa Fram and the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale

March 18, 2015

The Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale in the mountainous Niigata region of Japan has become a model, yet an underappreciated one, for expansive social art practices.

Meeting With Sanshin: An Interview with Hiah Park, Lover of the Mountain God

February 16, 2015

Manshin is a title of respect identifying a mudang, a female Korean shaman. For centuries manshin had been openly persecuted, their practices disrupted and shrines destroyed, their artistry desecrated to entertainment…

Kim Keumhwa’s Everyday Shamanism

February 8, 2015

Kim Keumhwa, Korea’s renowned charismatic naramansin, “national” shaman, is already awake…preparing to greet the spirits lodged in her small sindang (spirits’ shrine room) next to her bedroom.

Better Would Be Ume

February 3, 2015

Come Spring I’ll choose a tree
to fill the emptiness
and celebrate the birds’ return with flowers.

We Are What We Eat…So It Might As Well Be Delicious

January 31, 2015
Jiro Dreams of Sushi Review Kyoto Journal Lauren Deutsch

There is general consensus that “You are what you eat,” yet there are many interpretations of what “you” and perhaps also “we” actually mean. At a minimum, what, and even how, humans eat creates our corporeal selves. Looking deeper, we can see that our choices of foodstuffs and, it appears, foodways, also enable us to know who we are, how others know us and, even further, who we think others might be…

Kaneko Jun: Collaborations with Space

December 20, 2014

Taking ceramic art into sculptural-pictorial realms, Kaneko Jun is an artist who straddles cultures and in a sense transforms them with his borderless art.

Remembering the 2004 Tsunami

December 16, 2014