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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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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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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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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golden tea room

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

February 26, 2018

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.

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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.

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The Dazzling Night

October 7, 2016

A Noh Play in English about Katherine Mansfield.

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Japanese Courtyard Gardens

April 18, 2016

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

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harkor ainu restaurant tokyo cuisine japanese

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

October 30, 2015

“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.”

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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.”

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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.

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

KJ 93: Food