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Into the Hills

Into the Hills

Up into the Northern Hills,
up the slender, winding road
to the last bus stop; get out, walk
the narrowing valley to the end,
climb steep stone stairs.
Pause there for a cup of tea.

Mio Heki kintsugi repairing ceramic cup in studio Kyoto Japan close-up

Mio Heki: Kintsugi Artist and Urushi Master

“I see urushi as a way to connect ourselves and our culture with nature in so many ways. Because urushi and kintsugi art is all natural, it is a good way to remind ourselves that we are all part of nature, being pieces of our universe.”

Tuttle Kimono Design

Kimono Design: An Introduction?

This is an extremely beautiful book. Every page explodes with color and pattern: exquisite embroidery, wonderful hand painting, complex dyeing, evocative renditions of natural motifs. An astonishing variety is presented.

Douglas Brooks Japanese boatbuilding

An Apprentice Boatbuilder in Japan

I returned to Japan expressly to interview one of the boatbuilders I met on that first trip. Mr. Koichi Fujii was the last builder of taraibune, or tub boats, and with the help of an interpreter I did my best to begin documenting what he knew.

Seoul buildings

Distant and Far Apart

Watching painters work was something I’ve always been drawn to. How they licked their lips. How their eyes never seemed to blink. How they paced alone in cluttered rooms, stared at things as if defusing bombs, and every breath was a hiccup from boom…

Koya Abe selling vintage records in Tokyo

Koya Abe: Selling Vintage Records in Tokyo

Koya Abe spent most of the six-minute-long 2011 Tōhoku earthquake keeping his 78rpm records from falling off the shelves. The delicate collectibles are stored in open-mouth crates mounted on the wall of his Tokyo record shop.

Chiori in Iya Valley - Issue 82

Chikamichi: The Shortcut

Subsistence farming in the mountains is not usually conducive to amassing any great wealth. But then I looked again at the houses and fields, a whole village created from nothing more than wood, bamboo, stone, clay, vine, straw, grass, and the knowledge of how to use them…

Matsumoto Sachiko: Bringing Japanese Crafts to the World

Matsumoto Sachiko: Bringing Japanese Crafts to the World

Matsuyama Sachiko is the founder of monomo, a business linking Japanese craftspeople with an international audience and encouraging cultural inspiration.

Kyoto Journal - Tree

Giant Bonsai

 “Cut it down. You’ll have a better view of the rhodies,” one neighbor suggested.

But why? I loved seeing the fir’s textured bark arcing across the backyard and then shooting up to the sky.

“This is the most beautiful tree I’ve ever seen, “ my mother said. “It’s a giant bonsai without wires.”

Xu Lizhi Eleanor Goodman Chinese factory worker Kyoto Journal poetry Zhan You Bing

Left Behind: A Selection of Poems by Xu Lizhi

Xu Lizhi’s work is steeped in the vocabulary and experiences of the factories, a world in which he himself lived. The selection of poems presented here show his sense of desperation and acute observations of his internal psychology and the larger world.

American Bonsai photo

American Bonsai: Life by a Thousand Cuts

My father-in-law was a flyer. A man of the air and sky. A man of dreams and bravery, of duty and responsibility. He was fiercely loyal to family and country even when they were not so loyal to him.

Enomoto-san: Bamboo Weaver

Shokunin

The Shokunin Project is an ethnography of mastery— a study of the obsession and commitment to excellence it takes to dedicate one’s life to the pursuit of perfection.

john gohorry ostrich cadenzas kyoto journal

Ostrich Defies Containment

Adventures and fates of seven birds freed in the town of Okuma, Japan, following the Daiichi nuclear reactor meltdown in Fukushima, 11 March 2011.

Totousha teahouse Kyoto

A House Living with Tea

“Inspired by tea, the housemates show us that it is possible to live creatively and mindfully in this modern day world. It seems fitting that such a place exists in Kyoto, a city that epitomizes the juxtaposition of old and new.”

Small Buildings of Kyoto

Small Buildings of Kyoto

Small Buildings of Kyoto features 100 images of the quaint homes, businesses, workshops, as well as the occasional neighbourhood shrine and teahouse, that make up the fabric of Japan’s ancient capital.

inoshishi

Engineering the Japanese Islands

“Like all peoples on the planet, Japan has a complicated relationship with the natural world that’s shaped by religion and economic behavior and political practices, but certainly the notion that the Japanese enjoy a greener national philosophy is misguided. It does not hold up to historical scrutiny.”

Sarasoju

Meditation on Sarasôju

sarasôju blossoms       

in the morning
shining with dew
in the evening
moldering

Pachinko Min Jin Lee

A Universal Korean-Japanese Story

Lee opens this epic narrative of the lives of Korean immigrants to Japan in the fishing village of Yeongdo—“a five-mile-wide-islet beside the port city of Busan”—in 1910, the same year that Japan formally annexed Korea. She concludes it in Tokyo in 1989…

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

KJ 92: Devotion