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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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Identity Crisis

Impossible to Imagine: A film by Felicity Tillack. Bayview Films. 2019 Impossible to Imagine, the title of Kyoto-based Australian filmmaker Felicity Tillack’s debut effort, doesn’t give the viewer much to go on. The film’s poster, with its serene tea house garden backdrop, suggests a romance and plenty of Japanese aesthetic beauty. While love does indeed…

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Mizuno Katsuhiko and Kayu: Father and daughter photographers

Millions have experienced Kyoto through the eyes of photographer Mizuno Katsuhiko. His grand vision is of an idealized Kyoto, one without the modern clutter — natural landscapes, the seasons, gardens, and temples in their purest, most beautiful state. With some 140 published books over four decades, countless calendars and exhibitions, Mizuno has arguably been one…

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Neighbors

Two poems by Robert MacLean appear in KJ100, ‘Sweeping,’ excerpted from his new book Waking to Snow (Isobar Press, 2021) and a haiku from I Wish, a recent anthology from the Hailstone Haiku Circle. The cover of I Wish also appears—designed by wood-block artist Richard Steiner.  Robert and Richard were published together in KJ 5,…

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Kyoto Organic, by Kobayashi Mai

If Japan is considered a super-aged society, the agricultural population could be described as hyper-aged. However, a small but definite intergenerational shift is cause for optimism. Throughout Japan, a new wave of people from non-farming backgrounds are choosing to get their hands deep into the soil, many practicing organic agriculture. “Organic” is a legal term;…

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A New Generation of Rebel

Unfree Speech: The Threat to Global Democracy and Why We Must Act, Now by Joshua Wong with Jason Ng, Ai Weiwei (Intro.) and Chris Patten (Foreword) London: W. H. Allen, 2020, 268 pp., $11.07 (paper). Joshua Wong is the Hong Kong pro-democracy activist who became famous in 2011, aged just twelve, when he organized a…

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Behind the Scenes of Miyazaki’s Magic

Sharing a House with the Never-Ending Man: 15 Years at Studio Ghibli by Steve Alpert. Stone Bridge Press, 296 pp., $19.95. According to some, if you really love something you should never find out how it is made: the object of your admiration might lose its shine, its magic. If I felt that way I…

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Finding Home

Lauren Deutsch finally found her long-lost slide of the shopfront she describes in Kyoto View 18, ‘Finding Home’ — after KJ100 went to the printer. So, we’re posting her reminiscence again here, together with the photo. The MIPPW—Most Important Piece of Paper in the World—was a hand-drawn map of a neighborhood in north-east quadrant of…

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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.