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Ise Shrine Shikinen Sengu

Carpenter to the Gods: An interview with traditional carpenter Kawai Takami

“…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.”

Azuki_Beans

While the beans are cooking

Grandmother was cooking kidney beans in a big pot. Sayo’s father had gone to Kitaura to buy groceries. Takara Hot Springs had no guests. The hot spring inn deep in the mountains was soaked in rain and silence.

Second Harvest Japan

Re-evaluating Connections Between Food Waste and Hunger

The Japanese government reports food surplus at 3-4 million tons each year. In comparison, annual rice consumption is roughly 8 million tons. This is the equivalent of one bowl of rice being discarded for every two bowls eaten. Food banks will never be able “overfish” the vast ocean of food surplus that is available.

kanga-an4

The Garden on the Table

Frozen pea and potato chip casserole. Long before I came to Japan, that dish, symbolic of all those Family Potluck church dinners of childhood, had cemented in my mind the basic incompatibility of religion and good food. Years, later, the experience of Japanese temple food, or shojin ryori, came as a revelation to me…

combini

Satori in the Conbini

I stopped at the neighborhood 7-Eleven conbini on my way home nearly every night. It became a strange little ritual. Each night I could shed my mousy English-teacher-in-Japan existence with fellow worshippers at the altar of consumer goods..

Kyoto Journal hungry ghosts fiction food

The Hungry Ghost

She told me we wouldn’t eat any of the dumplings.  That, it was bad luck to eat food left out for hungry ghosts.  It would make them angry.  I remembered reading about hungry ghosts, wasted, mouths too small to eat.  They tried to possess people, sometimes the emotionally weak, so as to be able to taste the food they craved…

Wendy Nakanishi Kitchen Tales Yasmin Flett illustrations

Kitchen Tales

I left the comfortable and unchallenging world of my childhood when I was in my early twenties, eventually settling in Japan where I married a farmer. We are resident in rural Shikoku, and I have got acquainted with the roots of cooking through my relationship with my husband’s mother, whom I call Okaasan.

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Setsubun

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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Yakushima

The Jomon sugi is so mammoth, and contains so many crooks and crannies in its branches and trunk, and such an abundance of rotted pockets, that it is host to a number of other trees and bushes growing high up in the air. And within breathing room of the Jomon sugi are other giants, also harboring their own families of trees.

clouds

From “Rain and Thunder”

I once liked walking in the rain, the harder the better;
liked facing the drops and letting them drench my hair,
then follow individual courses under my collar…

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KJ Winter 2018 Reads: Titles from Tuttle

As part of their 70th-year anniversary celebrations, KJ has teamed up with Tuttle Publishing, the Asia specialist, for this four-part series.

Isse Ogata Japanese comedian

Everyman with a Thousand Faces

Isse Ogata is a renaissance man in the stratified world of Japanese arts. On stage, his breadth and depth are unparalleled and his artistry shows the marks of genius: original, immediately recognizable, and impossible to imitate.

Jottings Lu Xun

Unstinting Courage

In his views Lu Xun showed himself to be an unstinting supporter of modernity, a fearless enemy of atavism, and a savage critic of his country’s culture.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid cover book review

Separately Ever After

Throughout the novel, the writer introduces us to people from all corners of the world, who have walked through similar magical doors that lead them to other parts of the world. Although some of these people are peripheral to the plot, they throw light on the phenomenon of migration, helping us see how migration changes countries, cities, towns, neighbourhoods and people.

how to become japanese north american cover image

How to become Japanese: A Guide for North Americans

A tremendous amount of the stress of acculturation for North Americans in Japan arises from the interpersonal tension between their self-assertive and individualized selves and the self-effacing and collectively-minded Japanese.

Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage by Kat Davis

Journeys of Reverence: A daughter and mother’s decades on the Shikoku henro pilgrimage

In 1995, inspired by Oliver Statler’s Japanese Pilgrimage, we first set out on the 88 temples pilgrimage around the island of Shikoku, known as the Shikoku Henro, stretching over a distance of 1200 km.

john nathan translator soseki

Last Light

In the late afternoon, while magic-hour light poured through the bay window opposite his desk, I watched the greatest translator of Japanese literature at work translating its most important modern novel, heretofore undiscovered by readers of English…

persimmons

Persimmons

Split: a star-like reflection.
Flesh like the fire-belly of a newt,
only since coming each autumn
have I taken to swallow firm
fresh mouthfuls,
the jam-insides
of others sun-dried.

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

KJ 93: Food