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.

  • ALL

A Vital Occupation

At 1:30 I stop a random stranger on the street, and ask how to get to Akihabara. It may surprise you, but this is one of my special duties. I’m supposed to do one of these every three hours….


Where is the Wild?

Henry was wild about wildness, just couldn’t stop talking about it one way or another, and who can blame him, he saw it disappearing.

The Pillow Book review - Kyoto Journal

The Pillow Book: Translating a Classic

Most people in Japan can reach back to their school days to unhesitatingly recite the famous opening lines of the thousand-year-old classic known in English as The Pillow Book. The sounds roll off the tongue like poetry…


Parabolic Paintings at Kiyomizudera


A World Heritage site, Kiyomizu is the most visited destination in Japan… It was at this matchless and uniquely sited treasure that, on May 14th, 2011, I was given the literally unprecedented privilege of exhibiting my art — debuting my new genre of painting which I call “parabolic painting,” to a one-evening-only gathering of well over two thousand people…


Behind the Brocade Curtain

In the early 1990s I unwittingly moved into a Gion Festival neighborhood…One day I literally stumbled upon the festival’s gigantic floats, some as high as downtown buildings, and marveled at their exquisite adornments of exotic textiles and carvings. I didn’t know what I was looking at, but it blew my mind.


Learning from Pyongyang TV

“The thing I like best about Pyongyang TV is no commercials…unless, of course, you understand the programming for what it really is —one long political commercial!”

illus.for festivalOfAges

I Sing the City Eclectic

Veteran resident John Dougill offers a peek behind Kyoto’s glorious façade to reveal the history and workings of a remarkable culture…

DSCN2673 - Version 2

Hesitant Laughter in the Land of a Thousand Smiles

A duck barks, then croaks, then meows. Students of the Pattana Village School in Bangkok’s Klong Toey slum sit on the concrete floor of the schoolyard to watch the Nithan Caravan puppet show…


A Princess Ever, an Empress Never?

These days, a woman probably has more prospects of flying to the moon than becoming a titled member of one of the few remaining royal families, whose duties are much less glamorous…


Icing on the Cake: A Week in the Life of a Tibetan Sand Mandala

Every day, a team of three to four monks, each with a dust mask covering nose and mouth to prevent an accidental breath from destroying their efforts, drew the exquisitely complex image, from memory without the benefit of even a sketch.


Hatching Beauty: Life in Tonoharu

The art illustrating that plot remains exquisite…especially notable are the views Martinson gives us of mundane Japanese life, scenes that any resident will recognize.


Buddhism and Science


The mind is a natural bridge between science and Buddhism, for Buddhism, rather than focusing on a creator god, is based on the awareness and development of the human mind…



i have been a fern unfolding. in a forest of deep slanting shadows, close to the ground with its many tiny scratchings and slitherings, surrounded by the steady rumble and rush of a waterfall, i was a fern.


Insider Outsider: The Way of the Yakuza

During my first interviews, O-oyabun was particularly eager to talk about ideology: The ‘Way of the Yakuza,’ ‘violating the law’ or ‘doing wrong things.’


A Swarm of Japanese Flies

…Flies, like crows, are generally not very well-liked. They are diurnal, but associated with the night and darkness; they are spawned in the heady days of summer but are attracted to the stench of decay…


Clarity, Compassion, Peace

“Haiku mind” is a simple yet profound way of seeing our everyday world and living our lives with the awareness of the moment expressed in haiku — and to therefore hopefully inspire others to live with more clarity, compassion and peace.


Lu T’ung and the Song of Tea

The “Song of Tea” is one of the most beloved poems known by tea-drinkers the world over.


The Barter

The first day we met, he introduced himself with these words: “I am Heinrich, from Bavaria, located in the south of Germany.”