|Current Issue: #75 - Biodiversity|
Reviews of KJ
—Michael Lambe (written before joining KJ as PR manager!), Deep Kyoto
"Kyoto Journal is an English-language, non-profit, quarterly publication established in 1986. Its subject matter is not limited to one city as the title may suggest. It reaches far beyond the borders of Japan’s former imperial capital, and aspires to be a gateway to understanding and appreciation of diversity, lifestyles, cultures and societies in all off Asia. Each edition is interdisciplinary in its approach and includes interviews, travel reports, poetry and prose, photo-essays, original illustrations, translations, as well as book and film reviews. They combine to give the reader a holistic point-of-view of selected topics. The journal is a forum for renowned journalists, creative writers, academics, poets and visionary thinkers who offer reflections on current issues that are relevant within Japanese and other Asian contexts....The overall content is refreshingly balanced and free of political opinionating, convoluted critique and academic analysis."
Alexander 2009. "Kyoto
Journal" Asian Journal of Literature, Culture and Society.
Bangkok: Assumption University Press. Vol. 3, No. 01/02, April/October
2009. pp. 139-144. ISSN: 1905-856X
issue of the Kyoto Journal is like a beautiful paperbound book,
ninety-six pages of the most beautifully and straightforwardly designed
magazine around. It is the unofficial English language rag of expatriate
foreigners in Japan, though it tends to cover the whole of Asian culture
from nation to nation. It has been around for about two decades, and no
writers or artists are ever paid for their contributions, making it one
of the most consistently high-quality "open source" publications
anywhere, the recipient of countless awards for content and production."
Extracts from two online reviews of our Korea
"Kyoto Journal's Korea issue is simply packed with a wealth of always stimulating and intelligent essays, interviews, reviews and features about Korean culture. I especially liked Stephen Epstein's article on the history of South Korea's punk movement ("Punk as a Skunk"), David M. Lenard's great essay on "Korea's Lost Beeper Language" (I know foreigners here who still use beepers, having nothing to do with cellphones), Patricia Donegan's interview with South Korea's greatest living poet, Ko Un, and Donald Kirk's informed deconstruction of South Korea's conflicted national psyche and society. There are also features on North Korea's Kim cult, a history of Korean women's fiction, a typology of South Korean protest culture and, as always, a superb range of photographs artfully presented, from Robert Kowalczyk's B&W images of a bygone Korea to Koo Bohn-chang's vivid and almost pop photos of Korean masks. Other contributors include David A. Mason (author of "Spirit of the Mountains"), Brother Anthony of Taize and film critic Mark Russell of The Hollywood Reporter and Newsweek magazine – all of them locally based writers who know well of what they write."
"A Showcase of Balance and Wonder"
"I don't know of any magazine where the design and content so seamlessly blend as Kyoto Journal. The Japanese English-language quarterly's circumspect cultural critique is never compromised but is in fact strengthened by the graphic design. The peaceful, stylish design is just as original and scintillating as the magazine's approach to the ideas, interviews, poems and discussions it contains...Kyoto Journal is forever looking for original ways of depicting people and life... We recommend it highly."
Marco Visscher. Ode, Jan/Feb 2005
"This handsome and fascinating quarterly focuses on the arts and culture of Asia, with emphasis on Japan."
-Utne Reader, Alternative Press Award shortlist citation (Writing Excellence), 2001
Review on Epinions (posted September 2000), focusing on #43:
"Almost every single article presented in Kyoto Journal is cerebral, intellectual, methodical, potent."
"A 1998 Alternative Press Awards winner for Art and Design Excellence, the Kyoto Journal has only improved in the last year, with a design that never intrudes on the content but always emphasizes it. The Kyoto Journal is anything but slick and glossy, yet its artful use of abstract photography, selective color, and typefaces proves that substance can be beautiful, too."
-Utne Reader, Alternative Press Award shortlist citation, 1999
"With its graceful layouts that meld text, photographs, and graphics, Kyoto Journal is a pleasure to hold as well as read. Produced largely by Western expatriates living in Japan, Kyoto Journal evokes the naturalness, balance, and serenity that traditionally infuse so much of Asian aesthetic expression."
-Utne Reader, December 1998, Alternative Press Award for Art and Design Excellence
"Kyoto Journal explores a wide variety of cultural ideas without bias. This is one of the things that makes the magazine unique and valuable"
"...a labor of love and inspiration...."
- Pacific Friend, July 2000
"The large-format doyen of Japanese literary journals, widely read throughout North America and elsewhere. The content is far-reaching, but the spirit of Kyoto is somehow always present in the journal's pages."
- Dianne Highbridge, The Daily Yomiuri, June 2000
"What distinguishes Kyoto journal from other Japan-based publications is its sense of nativeness, expressed both in aesthetics and perspective.... KJ offers both macrocosmic and microcosmic views of Japan, the Asian continent and beyond; it includes articles on contemporary socio-political issues, interviews, cultural analyses, fiction, poetry, book reviews, photography, calligraphy, and other artwork."
- Catherine Pawasarat, The Japan Times, Jan 14, 1999
"What is perhaps most remarkable is that KJ is a totally volunteer, non-profit endeavor. Printing and mailing costs are paid for by the Heian Bunka Center, which specializes in publishing calligraphy textbooks, The editors are free to give rein to their pursuit of eclecticism instead of having to engage in the search for advertisers or scandal... "
- Gary Tegler, Mainichi Daily News, Feb. 24, 1999
"The Japanese and Japan-conscious foreigners alike think of Kyoto as something more than a city. The thousand-year-old former imperial capital is the prime symbol of a deathless Japan of courtly elegance, Buddhist piety, and grace in the arts of living. The city has long been a magnet for whom steel-and-cinderblock megacities like Tokyo and Osaka seem to have lost every Japanese characteristic worth keeping.
Kyoto Journal is a big, glossy magazine produced by a diverse group of just such Kyoto-loving foreigners; but it's not a showcase for ink paintings, pagodas, or brocade. Editor John Einarsen and his colleagues and contributors have reconceived Kyoto as a symbol of values that include but transcend Japan: Green ethics, respect for delicate and endangered human communities and traditions throughout Asia and the world, and simple love for the local, the quirky, and the irreducibly different.
Kyoto Journal is interested in life lived close to the bone. There are profiles of the tough, resourceful men who inhabit Osaka's Kamagasaki day-labor quarter; first-person accounts of life in Japan's close-knit urban neighborhoods; interviews with activists who are trying to alert Japan to the dangers of her aging nuclear reactors. Instead of one more solemn account of Japan's high-cultural performing arts - Kabuki, Noh drama - there's a delightful piece about taishu engeki, the tacky popular theater that thrives in the country's least fashionable places.
When Kyoto Journal does a special issue - on the frightening destruction of traditional architecture and culture in Kyoto, or the sacred mountains of Asia - it takes on a density that can be a little off-putting. Long articles and complex sidebars on Korean shamanism, the anthropology of sacred space in Java, and Chinese mountain lore follow each other pell-mell; it would be hard to imagine anyone but the fiercest Asia-philes (or the most disciplined graduate students) reading everything.
Yet for the most part the magazine's determined diversity keeps its density from being a problem. There's room in Kyoto Journal's Kyoto of the spirit for many kinds of reader: Gary Snyder-loving Buddhist visionaries, street-smart activists, postmodernists, fiction and poetry fans, and people who simply want to know how the daily struggles of life in Asia fit into the wider problems of planetary life at the end of the 20th century."
- Utne Reader May-June '95, No. 69
"Kyoto Journal is my favorite magazine. It's like an addiction. The design and imagery force me to drop the rest of my mail and sit down and browse the moment it arrives. The subject matter - eclectic, global, Kyoto- centric, muckraking, urbane - is a mix of Japanese, Australian, American and European authors. The most recent issue featured a savage deconstruction of the sugary artificial nature-imagery at public expositions sponsored by rapacious corporations, a history and psychology of Japanese "commercial messages" (television advertising), an ethnographic look behind the scenes at the world of the Yakuza (Japan's indigenous criminal subculture), an essay about "education mamas" who drive their children into high-stress academic competition, poems by modern Japanese poets, an interview with an American jazz musician who has lived and worked in Tokyo for decades, and a photo-essay on the deforestation of Sarawak. It's worth subscribing to solely for the frequent contributions by David Kubiak. "
-Howard Rheingold, Whole Earth Review No. 69, Winter 1990)
"One of the best literary magazines in Japan.... The editorial policy of the Kyoto Journal is one of community activism, a desire for local and international recognition of Kyoto's history and culture, and the promotion of environmental and traditional culture preservation efforts elsewhere. The writing is well-presented, somewhat academic in tone, and often controversial, especially to Japan's keepers of the status quo."
-Eric Johnson, Mainichi Daily News, June 12, '96
"Kyoto Journal, a provocative antidote for the humdrum"
-Taylor Mignon, The Japan Times, on Orthodoxy & Heresy bookzine, Jan 27,1998