Kyoto Journal Issue 98: Ma (Digital)


(US$5) Kyoto Journal’s 98th issue special on ma.


Find reading instructions here

ma: a measure of infinity


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For much of this year, a large part of the world’s population has been living in a dislocated space and time-frame, detached from familiar former daily realities but not yet transitioned into an alternative future.

For this issue of Kyoto Journal we felt it might be useful to explore the Japanese time-space concept of “ma”—a measurement of space or an interval—empty, yet never vacant—replete with potentiality, like the silence that is essential to music, the cognitive space between words and sentences in conversations, the stillness that anchors and releases both thought and action. 


photoby stephen mansfields

Photo by Stephen Mansfield


The written character for ma comprises a pair of gates, with the sun (formerly moon) between them. Essentially, it symbolizes the potential for illumination, or maybe even enlightenment. Perhaps, with ma as a lens, we can re-envisage this present time as a transformative opportunity for change.

Essays and conversations delve into aspects of ma in architecture, sculpture, calligraphy, painting, the contemplative gaze of a Buddhist filmmaker, the receptive ear of a musician, design elements of Kyoto’s distinctive gardens, Zen and Virtual Reality, Kyoto’s currently absent crowds of tourists, and long-absent ancient landmarks. KJ98 is also notable for its superb photo-essays, memorable fiction, poetry, translations and informative reviews.


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Calligraphy by Nakajima Hiroyuki.


Due to a slew of Covid-related reasons, KJ 98 will, regrettably, not be available in print. The upside? Immediate access by PDF download from our website—and the digital-only bonus of allowing us to expand to 204 pages, meaning more articles and graphics, and more space for their presentation.




Cover: Magda Rittenhouse

204pp; published August, 2020

¥550 (approx US $5)


This issue is complimentary for current Kyoto Journal subscribers. You will have received a code to use at checkout, but any queries contact We are not currently selling print subscriptions (see our news page for details.)