Posts Tagged ‘japanese culture’

Shokunin and Devotion

The Japanese word ‘shokunin’ is often translated as ‘artisan’ in English. Although it isn’t incorrect by definition, the translation seems to lose the spirit of what a shokunin does. I’m reminded of this every time I explain the works and lives of shokunin to an overseas audience, which happens to be what I do for a living.

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Comfort

A kotatsu is a low table with a blanket or quilt spread over it and a heating device inside. In old houses like ours, the area under the table is often actually sunk into the floor, so the legs can stretch out and the feet can rest directly on the little heater.

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Butsudan Boys

“Portraits of Eldest Sons” is a series of photographs addressing the relationship between young men and their family homes. Photographer Saito Hiroshi took indvidual portraits of himself and his friends—all young men aged around 20 or 21, and all eldest sons—in the rooms where their family butsudan, in-house Buddhist altars, are displayed.

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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.

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Honyarado: Losing Kyoto’s Counter-Culture Hub

Opening in 1972, Honyarado became a hub and stronghold of anti-war activities and a symbol of youth counterculture. We campaigned for the release of political prisoners in South Vietnam and South Korea, and supported court cases against obscenity charges.

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Noguchi Isao on Heirloom Seeds

Beets

“Since ancient times, farmers would carefully select seed from vegetables that grew well and tasted wonderful, in addition to other characteristics including shape and color. By saving such seed season after season, these native seeds became trusted as stable varieties over centuries.”

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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.

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Mio Heki: Kintsugi Artist and Urushi Master

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

“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.”

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Interview with David Cozy, KJ Reviews Editor

David Cozy at Mt Fuji

“What I am most proud of as an editor is that I have expanded the stable of writers who review for us, both bringing in talented people new to KJ, and also enticing those who’d done other kinds of writing for KJ over to the reviews section.”

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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.

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An Apprentice Boatbuilder in Japan

Douglas Brooks Japanese boatbuilding

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.

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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.

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Chikamichi: The Shortcut

Chiori in Iya Valley - Issue 82

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…

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Giant Bonsai

Kyoto Journal - Tree

 “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.”

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

KJ 92: Devotion