of the KJ Community
1986, nearly twenty years ago, when we started out to cut and paste together
the first issue of Kyoto Journal, we had no idea that in 2006
we would still be here, putting together our 63rd issue, or even that
we would still be residing here in Kyoto. Way back then, we had yet to
log onto the Internet. We depended almost entirely on local contacts —
the writers, artists and poets who used to come to John's place for a
monthly reading get-together, where we first realized the potential for
melding everyone's creativity, talents, and enthusiasm into a printed
distillation of our place and time.
KJ germinated within a physical setting, Okazaki, which
it still inhabits. It also came out of a curious mix of local and expat
community, another floating world within Kyoto. Somehow we were all here
due to a similar attraction exerted by the ancient capital, manifested
through gardens or calligraphy, or Noh theater or Zen, in haiku, in
shakuhachi, in tea ceremony or other finely nuanced traditions –
and in the sense that we all recognized there was something here worth
knowing more about. And worth sharing with the world.
KJ has evolved a long way. It has grown, spread its branches, flowered
and fruited, and to stretch the metaphor, is certainly no longer confined
by its hometown roots. But the sense of community, and some shared aspiration,
has never gone away. We still have a dedicated base of local volunteers,
who have been here for the magazine to nurture it through its development,
people whose belief in its essential value — and its further potential
— has motivated them to put in long hours of work, researching,
inputting data, making PR connections, negotiating permissions, arranging
distribution, handling subscriptions, interning, helping put on memorable
KJ events, even simply addressing and mailing out each issue, as well
as assisting in the more obvious aspects of editing, design, photography,
illustration... This volunteer base is KJ's strongest characteristic feature.
We know of no other publication that is so fortunate in its voluntary
support network, which includes even our generous publisher.
In addition, we are fortunate to have been able to build an extended community,
a so-called virtual community or cyber-neighborhood, of like-minded people
around the world, who have seen what the magazine stands for and have
responded as contributors (fiction writers, essayists, poets, commentators,
interviewers, contributing editors, graphic artists, photographers, translators,
travelers, sojourners, residents) — and subscribers.
what is it that we stand for? Although we have resisted creating
any kind of manifesto, and are not about to try to define ourselves out
of existence now, essentially KJ is concerned with creativity and constructiveness,
encouraging writers, artists and staff to develop their potential. We
try to keep the process mutually supportive, and collaborative. Not having
an office as a focal point, and being busy with “day jobs”
means we mostly work independently, using email and phone communications
to keep in touch, with occasional get-togethers of individuals concerned
with specific projects. Full-scale KJ meetings, usually held just after
the publication of each new issue, seldom follow a business-like agenda
— instead, they become brainstorming sessions where everyone contributes
to a process of developing fresh perspectives, listening to each others'
ideas, giving feedback, recognizing that everyone has something valuable
to offer. We try to encourage further input from the wider KJ community
The magazine itself, in its printed & bound final manifestation, is
intended to function as a lens to re-envision the world through "perspectives
from Asia," but the actual process of working together is equally
a means of getting beyond our individually limited viewpoints. We welcome
new voices, new ideas, fresh input. It is not our intention to arrive
at any formula that can be repeated in subsequent issues. The magazine
has no templates, no standard "look," though it hopefully reflects
consistency in humanitarian values, intellectual curiosity, and the wish
to see sanity and peace prevail. One recurrent "message" is
that ethics do matter, and are a vital responsibility both socially and
Those of us who have been with KJ over a long period seldom find the opportunity
to fully express our thanks to the many volunteers and friends of KJ who
have contributed in so many ways to its development. However, without
their dedicated support, this magazine might not exist, and it certainly
would not have achieved its current form. While other organizations sometimes
experience problems that arise from personality clashes, policy disagreements,
or other interpersonal conflicts, KJ has been almost always blessed by
smooth interactions, in which it seems that personal egos and private
agendas are subservient to the primary purpose of helping each other and
the magazine achieve fullest potential.
are also very appreciative of the diversity among our local community,
through which KJ has managed to avoid becoming simply a bastion of middle-aged
gaijin males. Editorially, we try to involve men and women writers,
editors and artists, and to ensure that the magazine reflects and maintains
a healthy diversity of sources and content.
Through the positive support of KJ contributors, staff and friends, and
our publisher, Harada Shokei, KJ has succeeded in being nominated
thirteen times in the last nine years for Utne
Alternative Press Awards, in direct competition with the
best professional publications of the alternative press. This is an achievement
that we are very proud of, and one that seems to confirm that we have
evolved highly effective working methods over these nearly twenty years.
KJ has also been invited in the last two years to submit articles for
the prestigious Pushcart Prize.
The real achievement, we feel, is the material that we have published
that might otherwise never have reached the public domain, and the support
that we have been able to give to our contributors, many of whom have
published with us at an early stage in their creative development.
While KJ has achieved much, we are still looking to the future, not the
past. This year may turn out to be a rather special one in KJ's development.
The biggest news is that we have been picked up by Ingram
Periodicals Inc., a major US distributor, with the potential
to place KJ in the most suitable bookstores and other locations across
North America. At the same time, our French interns (Vanessa and Marine)
are working on plans for expansion of distribution in Europe, and elsewhere
in Asia. We will also have a record number of interns working with us
during this year. Following the success of the issue launch
party for KJ #60 (Korea), and the related reading of Korean
contemporary poetry by translator Brother Anthony of Taizé, and
John and Stewart's well-received presentation
to the Society of Writers, Editors & Translators (SWET) in Tokyo last
November, we plan to keep up the momentum with meetings and KJ events,
giving Kyoto Journal even more of a local presence as well.
Once again, we would like to thank everyone in the KJ community
for their continued support, to invite your ongoing feedback on how we
can make the magazine, and our working process, even more effective –
and to welcome anyone interested in joining and contributing to KJ.
Rodgers, managing editor: submissions[at]kyotojournal.org
Stewart Wachs, associate editor: editor[at]kyotojournal.org
John Einarsen, founding editor: feedback[at]kyotojournal.org