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

August 17, 2018

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.

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Chiemi Ogura bamboo craftswoman Kyoto photo by Irwin Wong

Chiemi Ogura: Bamboo Craftswoman

August 8, 2018

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.

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Interview with Mitsuru Yokoyama, Tatami Artisan

July 18, 2018

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

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KYOTOGRAPHIE Breaks New Ground

May 6, 2018

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.

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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…

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The Garden View

September 3, 2015

“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.”

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Photography, Community, Space: Kyotographie’s Lucille Reyboz and Yusuke Nakanishi

March 23, 2015

Our theme will be “Tribe,” but not in an ethnic sense—it’s more in the sense of a community that shares the same sense of values.

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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….”

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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.

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Nakagawa Shuji Oke Kyoto Journal Japan Handmade crafts bucket wood

Nakagawa Shuji: Oke Maker

September 2, 2014

“Grandfather at work was beautiful to watch.” Shuji remembers, “And the products he created were also splendid and of high-quality. The ideal of the Japanese woodcraft artisan is that at the final sweep of the plane, the separate elements become a single object. My grandfather was making oke that way.”

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Christ reflection Japanese magic mirror maker

The Magic Mirror Maker

February 4, 2014

When light is directed onto the face of sacred magic mirror, or makkyo, and reflected to a flat surface, an image magically appears. Kyoto Journal sits down with the man rumored to be the last remaining makkyo maker in the world — Yamamoto Akihisa.

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Mapping Kyoto: An Affair of the Heart

December 18, 2013

Judith Clancy is the author of three books about Kyoto, Exploring Kyoto, Kyoto Machiya Restaurant Guide and Kyoto City of Zen. She has mapped Kyoto in words and images, enabling countless people, residents and visitors alike, to explore the exceptional cultural, historical, religious and gastronomic heritage of this city.

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Listening to Vegetables: The Art of Tanahashi Toshio

January 16, 2013

The pleasure of shojin is to find freedom within limitation of using only vegetables.

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Slow Kyoto

April 9, 2012

The Slow Cities movement, having grown out of a food-oriented project, is still focused on local products and hospitality.

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Zen & the Art of Rejuvenation

February 24, 2012

Taizo-in launched its groundbreaking ‘Fusuma-e Project’ in the spring of 2011. The Zen temple is commissioning a young, unknown Kyoto-based artist to compose large sumi-e ink paintings on 64 new sliding doors, or fusuma…

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Kyoto Rain

November 8, 2011

Kyoto belongs to the rain. Not a place of brilliant sunlight, it is often sadly gray — an older woman who causes one to remark how beautiful she must once have been.

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

October 15, 2011

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.

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Gion Geisha: Interview with Yoshida Teruko

September 15, 2011

Yoshida Teruko is a former geiko (often called geisha outside of Kyoto). She is the proprietor of a bar in the Gion district whose clientele includes corporate leaders from Kyoto, Tokyo and other countries.

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Restoring Memories Project

July 13, 2011

Tomas Svab and John Einarsen traveled to Ishinomaki, one of the cities hardest hit by the tsunami, to see if they could set up a system to restore precious photographs that had been damaged in the disaster…

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Behind the Brocade Curtain

June 24, 2011

In the early 1990s I unwittingly moved into a Gion Festival neighborhood…One day I literally stumbled upon the festival’s gigantic floats, some as high as downtown buildings, and marveled at their exquisite adornments of exotic textiles and carvings. I didn’t know what I was looking at, but it blew my mind.

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Dream Corridor

June 23, 2011

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…

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