Reviews

The Manchurian Bodhisattva

In 772 the Tang dynasty emperor Daizong decreed that, for the welfare of the empire, Manjusri should be worshipped in every Buddhist monastery in China. Each of the five peaks (or ‘terraces’) of Wutaishan became associated with a different manifestation of Manjusri; accounts of visionary encounters and apparitions abound.

Read More

Records of a Travel-worn Notebook

During his copious amount of travel, Rowe grew particularly interested in the storytellers he encountered, especially those who are able to embed us strongly in the soil of those places where their stories take root.

Read More

Japan Dissents

Andrews doesn’t paint radicals as innocent victims, however. He describes in great detail the violent, sometimes deadly infighting that tore apart the protest movement in the 1960s and 70s, and argues that this self-destructive behavior nudged the general population toward political apathy in the decades that followed.

Read More

ToPoJo’s “Deep Beatitude”

The whole matter of Beat Lit/Beat Culture’s engagement with Japan has been overdue for thoughtful attention for too long. With writing on Beat Generation personalities and their work at near-saturation point in English, Japan’s pivotal informative role in helping incubate Beat ethics, aesthetics, and insight practices especially has remained oddly elusive.

Read More

The Allen Ginsberg of Japan

Kazuko Shiraishi, in person, is similar to her poetry: vivacious, playful, intelligent, flirtatious and most important, loving. This year she turns 87, but still exhibits some of these characteristics, both in her personality and in her work.

Read More

Knowing Nature

The pre-modern Japanese were not, of course, innocent of environmental exploitation—they razed many mountainsides and turned many fields after reciting the requisite prayers—but they understood their relationship to the environment in a radically different way than modern Japanese do.

Read More

Kimono Design: An Introduction?

Tuttle Kimono Design

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.

Read More

A Universal Korean-Japanese Story

Pachinko Min Jin Lee

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…

Read More

God in Pictures

Korean shaman painting

I was baffled by her effort to pay homage to a large, framed (glass, metal) painted image of the mountain spirit (a wizened old man with a tiger and young attendant) that was up a pathway on the north side of Manisan Mountain peak, when we could actually at minimum address the spirits of the peak in front of us.

Read More

Rediscovering Kyoto

I work as a guide for foreign tourists and though I mean to introduce them to the charms of Japan, instead it is often they who remind me of my country’s beauty.

Read More

Turtles All the Way Down

To add credence to our myths, we enmesh them in Big Stories, such as the Bible and Buddhist sutras. These Stories try to explain it all, but inevitably fall far short. Their promise of absolute truths is empty since these Big Stories too were (and forever are) constructed.

Read More

Half-Awake

Dalai Lama Awakening is a documentary film by director Khashyar Darvich. In what the director claims is an uncompromised version of his previous film Dalai Lama Renaissance, 40 Western thinkers gather in India to meet with the Dalai Lama to transform the world.

Read More

Real Geisha Real Women

Kyoto Journal geisha

“Real Geisha Real Women,” is a remarkable documentary that opens the shojifor us all, if only for 52-minutes. It allows us a peek into the private lives of 10 active and retired Kyoto geisha…

Read More

We Are What We Eat…So It Might As Well Be Delicious

Jiro Dreams of Sushi Review Kyoto Journal Lauren Deutsch

There is general consensus that “You are what you eat,” yet there are many interpretations of what “you” and perhaps also “we” actually mean. At a minimum, what, and even how, humans eat creates our corporeal selves. Looking deeper, we can see that our choices of foodstuffs and, it appears, foodways, also enable us to know who we are, how others know us and, even further, who we think others might be…

Read More

Excerpts from Whisper of the Land

“Let the photo-taking sessions be a ballet instead of a military-style attack or a grueling marathon. In the garden, drink the sun, sweep with the wind, sing like a bird, and dance with a shovel and a rake.”

Read More

Picaro Rising

n China’s major cities there is an elite one percent or so that drive nice cars, eat in nice restaurants, and generally live pleasant lives. They do so thanks in large part to the ninety-nine percent…

Read More

Poetry and Prose, Mirrors and Distance

  Poems of a Penisist by Mutsuo Takahashi. Translated by Hiroaki Sato. Twelve Views from the Distance by Mutsuo Takahashi. Translated by Jeffrey Angles. he University of Minnesota has recently published two remarkable volumes of Japanese literature in translation by one of Japan’s most significant contemporary poets, Mutsuo Takahashi: Poems of a Penisist, and the…

Read More

Nature and Spirit Reunion

There is much work to be done—not only in “saving the Earth,” as the mantra of the environmental movement goes, but also in saving ourselves and our own souls in the process.

Read More

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

KJ 92: Devotion