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Discover quality writing from Asia in our award-winning magazine. Stimulating interviews and profiles; excerpts of works translated from Asian languages; fiction, poetry and book reviews, as well as a fresh look at the city KJ calls home.

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The News from Seoul

A City of Han: Stories by expat writers in Seoul and other cities of South Korea, edited by Sollee Bae. Seoul: FWS Publishing, 2020. 121 pp., ¥1059 (paper). In this era of extreme global hypersensitivity to race and national narratives, it is arguably a high-risk proposition for a Western expat author in Asia to write…

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A Familiar Environment | Translator Ginny Tapley Takemori

Murata Sayaka’s short novel, Convenience Store Woman, a thematically-propelled distillation of the author’s experience working in konbini, has achieved extraordinary success in English. Kyoto Journal speaks with the novel’s Ibaraki-based translator, Ginny Tapley Takemori.

Green Action’s action held at Kyoto City Hall - submitting an international petition to stop the Ohi nuclear power plant restart, May 5, 2018

Four Decades of Anti-nuclear Activism

Part 2 of an Extended version of our Interview with Kyoto Activist Aileen Mioko Smith published in KJ 99, Dec. 2020.

Aileen and Gene, credit/copyright: Ishikawa Takeshi

Documenting Minamata with W. Eugene Smith

AN INTERVIEW WITH KYOTO ACTIVIST AILEEN MIOKO SMITH

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Where tea stirs remembrance

In a current landscape dotted with fast-food hegemony and the rapid erosion of lazy afternoons, is nostalgia enough to carry forth the legacy of Irani cafés in India?

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Spring 2021 Reads from Tuttle

The roundup of new books on Japan food, culture and travel by Tuttle Publishing.

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A life of art and activism

The life trajectory of Japanese American artist, activist, feminist and “Modern Buddhist Revolutionary” Mayumi Oda is recounted in her new autobiography.

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The Big Picture: Birds’-eye Overviews of the Japanese Archipelago

Yoshida Hatsusaburo (1884-1955) was known as “the modern Hiroshige” and created over 2,000 maps in his lifetime.

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Another Pool Party in Saigon

The joke of it is that, like a lot of people out here, he has no home to go back to. You don’t move to Saigon if your life is going well. He doesn’t even speak to his family. He’s lost touch with his real friends in England.

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In the Cave

The cave with the hidden Book of the Dead is a powerful metaphor for the pandemic interval we’re experiencing, a between-space whose teachings are accessible if we have the right perspective.

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Kiro: Carving out the Future of Hakone Yosegi Marquetry

The name of Kiro, a workshop specializing in Hakone yosegi marquetry, rendered using the kanji characters for “wood” and “path,” seems fitting for an art form that has seen remarkable innovation over generations and whose artisans continue to forge a path forward into the future. 

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Treasures

I felt clean for the first time in my life. That’s what Aldous Huxley said when his house and everything in it was destroyed in a fire. I admired the man and read everything he wrote. And I longed for this kind of non-attachment, too.

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Shared “Vision”: KYOTOGRAPHIE 2020 in Review

“Vision,” the theme of this year’s KYOTOGRAPHIE International Photography Festival, seeks to highlight photography’s power to overcome barriers and satisfy (in the words of New Zealand writer Katherine Mansfield) “that terrible desire to establish contact.”

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Climate Crisis Sparks a Revival of Youth Activism in Japan

Youth climate activists are faced with the challenge of engaging a relatively complacent student population on an issue that seems much less immediate and visible than the presence of the US military in the 1960s did: environmental pollution and the emission of greenhouse gases.

A Rare Pleasure

The few translations that do exist of particular haiku poets have focused on male poets such as Basho, Shiki and Issa. For these reasons alone, readers should welcome the translation of the work of a premiere Japanese woman poet artist-calligrapher, Kaga-no-Chiyo.

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A Culture of Simplicity

The simplicity of wabi-sabi is best described as the state of grace arrived at by a sober, modest, heartfelt intelligence.

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Seeking Ma

“There is something magical about a torii gate floating in the middle of a lake or shoreline. Once I got more immersed in the study of Japanese culture and religions I developed a parallel appreciation and respect for the symbolism and cultural importance they have to the Japanese people.”

Stephen Mansfield

Some Gravel, Some Stones: Nature, Art and Spirit in Japanese Gardens

Stephen Mansfield interviews Marion Poschmann, whose novel set in Japan, The Pine Islands, was winner of the Berlin Prize for Literature and shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize.

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

KJ 98: Ma