Kyoto Journal Issue 37


(US$12.80 ex shipping)

The Real Japan
Tadayoshi Himeda on Matsuri, Gods and the Land
Tales of a Country Doctor
Pico Iyer on the Global Village
Bear Hunter

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The Japanese archipelago comprises roughly 7,000 islands, stretching over 3,000 kilometers, and over 60% of its land surface consists of mountains and volcanoes. Farming land accounts for only 13% of the total area, squeezing human habitation into a mere 4.5%. Over 80% of Japan’s population now lives in cities, and more than 60% of Japan’s food is imported. So …who needs the inaka (countryside) anyway, these days?

“Thank god for all the city folk, who leave the countryside to us” is Robert Brady‘s view. Nakashima Tadashi says “Down With Cities!” and Meredith McKinney tells city-dwelling tourists where to go. Tadayoshi Himeda, an ethnographer film-maker talks about his 40 years shooting documentaries on local festivals, while Shigeo Iwamoto talks about his lifelong pursuit, shooting bears. Taishi Hirokawa puts famous fashion-designer costumes on country folks and shoots them “Sono-mama”. Rollie Innes-Taylor gives his perspective, from a sea-kayak circumnavigating the archipelago; Isabella Bird takes tempests, landslides and floods in her stride, travelling “unbeaten tracks” to Yezo in 1878.

Hirokawa Taishi photographs country landscapes dotted with nuclear power plants; Gavan McCormack reports on the Nakaumi dam scheme, which is replacing some of Japan’s richest waters with expensive and superfluous farmland, Toshio Sibata rambles the wilds photodocumenting Japan’s best rural concrete for the Japan Society of Engineers, Joshua Rome slams agri-chemicals, and David Kubiak slams COP3. Tim Groves gets local election fever; Bruce Allen soliloquizes on patriotism (finding Maine and Hokkaido aren’t that far apart). Nanao Sakaki discovers the National Butterfly of Japan, Royall Tyler hangs out with Shining Prince Genji in pre-quake, pre-Kobe Akashi; guest co-editor Jeffrey Irish introduces people he got to know working as a fisherman on an island off Kyushu, including Dr Kenjiro Setoue, whose journal extracts are included.

Sally McLaren finds out about foreign brides for present-day back-country farmers; Carole Koda records family reminiscences about mail-order Japanese brides and Japanese farming life in Southern California since the early 1900s; Hosui Fukuda reinvigorates an almost lost form of country ceramics; Stephen Kohler visits lost and restored villages….and Pico Iyer self-administers the Haiti Test, looking for the Global Village. Other articles and photo-essays explore country food, festivals, folksongs, and fishing…

Cover Image by Lehan Ramsey and Yasukawa Hiroshi
170pp; Published June 4, 1998


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