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Kyoto Journal Issue 16


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Interviews with Kyoto residents.

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Kyoto Speaks

This special issue of Kyoto Journal started out innocently enough. We wanted to record the voices of Kyotoites, the subjective moods and textures of individual lives, as a collage, without any theme or message. We chose people who were something of a cross-section of the city, and matched them with interviewers who knew them, to obtain conversations that were comfortable and unreserved. The bad news sank in later, when the interviews came in. We had convened a wake. Whether they are talking about art, business, street life, politics or food, the majority of the fifty-odd speakers are in mourning for the Kyoto they knew five, twenty or fifty years ago, alarmed at the triumph of alienation and dehumanization.

The trampling of the past by modern life is not news. Nor is it unique to this place. But we can’t help feeling something categorical, something qualitative and final in the collective perceptions of these Kyotoites. It is poignant because they know, and the many visitors know, that Kyoto really has been someplace special for a very long time. What is most disappointing is the paucity of hope and vision for a future that might include a local identity.

What is it that is dying here? As in so many threatened cultures around the world, it is a particular sensibility to nature, beauty and humanity, a particular language of manners and forms. It is a particular dimension that could, and should, help to offset the flatness of a world that may soon be exhausted by science and consumption.


SHIN’EI KATSUMI (greengrocer) – James Heaton
ENDO SUMIKO (theatre promoter) – Jonah Salz
NISHIKAWA ATSUKO(talent) – Ian Perlman
OTIS CARY (professor) – John Hart Benson
MATSUDA KATSUHIKO (metallurgist)– John Einarsen
ONO NOBUYUKI (human rights) – W. David Kubiak
NONAKA AKIRA (craftsmanship) – W. David Kubiak
SEN SUMIKO (the way of food) – Joseph Justice
OKUBO MASAYOSHI (pop musician)– – Ian Perlman
SANO TOEMON (gardener) – Ian Perlman
THE YOKOIs(bathhouse) – Daniel Kane
WATANABE TOYOKAZU(architect) – Ian Perlman
EBE YOICHIRO (herbalist) – Rebecca Gowen
YAMADA YOSHIO & HAYAO (potters) – Steve Tomaszewski
ARAI MANTA (bartender) – John Einarsen
ROGER PULVERS (writer) – Ian Perlman
IMASATO TADAYUKI (acupuncturist) – Toyoshima Mizuho
MATSUMOTO HAJIME (noodles) – Aoki Tomoko, trans. James Heaton
YAMASHITA KEIKO (teacher) – Kathy Arlyn Sokol & Stephen Suloway
SHIGEYAMA SENNOJO (actor) – Jonah Salz
SEISEN (odyssey) – Patricia Masters
HISAUCHI MICHIYO (pervert) – Shimizu Toshifumi, trans. Stephen Suloway
FUKUMOCHI TORU (bird lover) – Venetia Stanley-Smith & Stephen Suloway
SOGYU & YAMASHITA NOBUKO (the sixties) – Ian Perlman & Ken Rodgers
ANONYMOUS (civil servant) – Pamela Becker
NAKANISHI TOYOKO (feminist) – Rebecca Jennison
IDA SHOICHI (artist)– Rhony Alhalel
KOMORI TAKAO (festival musician) – John Einarsen
YAMAGUCHI ITARO (Nishijin) – W. David Kubiak
ITO SAKAE (housewife) – Chris Summerville & Mine Jun
KATSURA KAN (buto) – Dan Furst
AILEEN SMITH (activist) – Brian Covert
HASE TOSHIO (environment) – Ken Rodgers
KOMORI FUMIO (painter) – John Einarsen
GEORGE HLAWATSCH (historian) – Paul D. Scott
TAKEDA YOSHIFUMI (free spirit) – James Heaton
DANBAYASHI MIKIHIRO (innkeeper) – Ian Perlman
FURUHASHI TEIJI (Dumb Type) – Bridget Cooper
NADAMOTO MASAHISA (burakumin) – Matsuya Toshihiro
SANNOMIYA SHOJI (drinker) – Jonah Salz
YUMI LEE (alien) – Linda Crawford
TAKANORI HIDEKI (chef) – Richard Opheim
OGAWA KIYOMI (individual) – Cora Guss
KOTANI RYUICHI (mountaineer)– Ian Perlman
MORITA YASUTAKA (washi) – Ian Perlman
TORII HIROYOSHI (the glass room) – John Einarsen
MARIA (librarian) – John Einarsen
YOSHIDA TERUKO (Gion) – Ian Perlman
OTANI NARISHIGE (inheritor) – Venetia Stanley-Smith & Stephen Suloway
NAKAMURA YOSHIAKI (master carpenter) – Soren Matz
MIYAGI SABURO (bicycle man) – Toyoshima Mizuho
KATAGIRI YUZURU (poet)– Fil Lewitt
WANG YAXIN & NAN JIAN-MING (foreign students) – Ken Rodgers & Egashira Yuri
MR.S (yakuza) – Lisa Louis
SAITO JIRO (street vendor) – Dick Butterworth
DAVID KIDD (connoisseur) – Joseph Houseal
FUJIMA KANSOME (dancer) – Joseph Houseal & Heidi Durning
REALITY, DREAM AND FICTION: Japan, 1945-1990 – Mita Munesuke

Cover Image by John Einarsen
138 pp (bookzine)
published January 1, 1991