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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.

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Afuru Nagatome Mugen Ryokan Kyoto Irwin Wong photography

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.

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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…”

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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.

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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…

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Ima Tenko Irwin Wong

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.

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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.

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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.”

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

September 4, 2019

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.

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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.

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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.”

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Kumakura Seiko

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.

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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.

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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.

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Shinkosai procession, Gion Matsuri, Kyoto

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…

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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.

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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.”

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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…

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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”

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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…”

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Yoko Yamada and Julie Gramlich

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.

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

KJ 95: Wellbeing