Kyoto Journal 102: Encounters/Transitions (Digital)


(Digital issue) In KJ102 we bring together accounts of formative experiences, in the context of historical momentum. (Approx. $6 US)


In KJ102 we bring together accounts of formative experiences, in the context of historical momentum. A good example would be Vito Tomasino’s story of visiting Kyoto as a U.S. Marine on R&R from Korea in 1954, taking the opportunity against significant odds to throw himself briefly into judo training with a Kyoto police team, against the backdrop of post-war Kyoto re-opening to the world. At age 20, absorbing vital elements of Japanese martial arts culture, Vito is unknowingly on a trajectory that will lead him to becoming a “top gun” fighter pilot. Poet Garrett Hongo, translator Meredith McKinney, and essayist Pico Iyer each recount significant encounters in their early times in Kyoto, and again, we see shifts in the city as context. Present-day Kyoto as a hub for creative collaboration provides the background for an article on Yannick Paget’s new symphony in ‘A Composer and a Theoretical Physicist.’ Excerpts from Amy Chavez’s new book, The Widow, the Priest, and the Octopus Hunter, introduce her neighbors on Shiraishi island in the Inland Sea, and the major changes that are transforming their lives there. Another book excerpt, from Scott Ezell’s Journey to the End of the Empire, plus a short “prequel” and postscript, focuses on how the historic village of Dali, in China’s Yunnan province, has been reinvented over decades of tourism “development.”

West Bengal poet/calligrapher Nilanjan Bandyopadhyay has visited Japan 29 times; his absorption of Japanese aesthetics inspires him to build a contemplative teahouse (named Kokoro) in Santiniketan. Kala Ramesh, from Goa, also discovers and adopts the ancient Japanese tanka style of poetry, in addition to haiku—literary forms also evolve through time. We meet diviners from Hong Kong and Seoul using traditional systems to advise present-day (covid-era) clients; another book excerpt, from Marc Peter Keane’s new Arcs and Circles, traces the vital early shift in Japanese tea ceremony aesthetics from Chinese wares to Japanese. We are introduced to notable bookstores offering translations of children’s books, especially in China, to the richly decorative world of Japanese kites, a new take on Japan’s yokai folklore, and the disturbing depths of an Akutagawa Ryunosuke story. And of course, that’s not all. Also included, a visit with Cold Mountain poets Kanzan and Jittoku—guided wryly by John Gohorry—and a wide-ranging collection of reviews.