HIDDEN JAPAN

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.

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Journeys of Reverence: A Daughter and Mother’s Decades on the Shikoku Henro pilgrimage

November 13, 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Beets

Noguchi Isao on Heirloom Seeds

September 3, 2018

“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.”

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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.”

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Douglas Brooks Japanese boatbuilding

An Apprentice Boatbuilder in Japan

August 25, 2018

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

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Koya Abe selling vintage records in Tokyo

Koya Abe: Selling Vintage Records in Tokyo

August 25, 2018

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

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Chiori in Iya Valley - Issue 82

Chikamichi: The Shortcut

August 25, 2018

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

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inoshishi

Engineering the Japanese Islands

August 20, 2018

“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.”

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Gourmet Biking in Tohoku

Gourmet Biking in Tohoku

August 19, 2018

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.

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Isabella-Bird_Meiji-backroads-Japan

Victorian-era Dispatches from Meiji Back-Roads

August 18, 2018

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

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The Potter and the Cook

The Potter and the Cook

August 16, 2018

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…

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The Great Vacancy 11

The Great Vacancy (Part II)

July 21, 2018

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?

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Kakashi-no-Sato

Ayano Tsukimi’s “Kakashi-no-Sato”

July 10, 2018

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…

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Walking Ark, on Ogijima by Keisuke Yamaguchi

The Art of Island Time

June 10, 2018

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

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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…

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Shiraiwa-yaki Reborn

Shiraiwa-yaki Reborn

May 11, 2018

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.

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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…

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

KJ 92: Devotion