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Shared “Vision”: KYOTOGRAPHIE 2020 in Review

October 14, 2020

“Vision,” the theme of this year’s KYOTOGRAPHIE International Photography Festival, seeks to highlight photography’s power to overcome barriers and satisfy (in the words of New Zealand writer Katherine Mansfield) “that terrible desire to establish contact.”

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NOTICE: Kyoto Journal is going digital til 2021

August 11, 2020

We have made the difficult decision to suspend our printing operation and sales of our subscriptions, until further notice. Back issues are still available and will be shipped to you if we can ship them to you!

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Behind the Mask

May 23, 2020

In 1960, noh actor and mask carver Udaka Michishige was the last to be taken as an uchi-deshi, or live-in apprentice, into the home of Kongō Iwao II, the head of the Kongō School.

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A Definitive Ranking of the Ducks of Kamogawa

May 18, 2020

We’ve taken the liberty of identifying the most common species of duck inhabitants on the Kamo River, and ranking them from ugliest little duckling, to virtual bird of paradise. 

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The Shigeno Family of Dyers: Learning from the Past

May 2, 2020

The Shigenos’ expertise is Kyo-kanoko shibori (Kyoto’s fawn tie-dye) —a technique named for its characteristic dyed patterns which resemble the white spots on a young deer.

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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: 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: 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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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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KJ 98: Ma