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HIDDEN JAPAN

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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*MAfeature

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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1_Chome_Matsuo,_Naha-shi,_Okinawa-ken_900-0014,_Japan_-_panoramio_(1)

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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*CMfeature

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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dazzlingnightfeatured

The Dazzling Night

October 7, 2016

A Noh Play in English about Katherine Mansfield.

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tsuboniwa.featured

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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Boneyard2

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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shisendo

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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ABE AND FACISM

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

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*settingstones.feature

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.

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fukushima.feature

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!”

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*ladyinwaiting.feature

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…

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restaurantfeature

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.

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*TATOOfeature

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…

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Snowballet

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.

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Catholic nun in Japan

We All Have Our Own Truths: An Interview with Gwendolyn Hoeffel

December 2, 2014

“As the years passed, I was very aware of Japan becoming more prosperous, more accepting of Western values and customs, which has been detrimental in certain ways. Obviously we have to move on, and the traditional, gracious way of living that I experienced in 1964 is going to move on.”

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

KJ 95: Wellbeing