Kyoto Journal Digital Issue 76


Remembering Gwangju
Urban Nomads in Mongolia
Gary Snyder on Endangered Wilderness
Jungle Hermit in Sri Lanka


Evolution is not always a slow and steady progression. Occasionally, a change of circumstances opens up a fresh chance to refocus, re-evaluate, and re-envision how best to achieve our goals. Kan Naoto, in his unenviable position as prime minister of Japan at the time of Tohoku’s earthquake, tsunami and ensuing Chernobyl-scale nuclear crisis, rightly observed that the nation faced its biggest challenge since the end of World War II. This time Japan has to do more than bulldoze rubble into landfill, rebuild vital infrastructure, and reboot a battered economy. What’s needed once again — as in the turmoil following the capitulation of Japan’s disastrous Showa military regime — is an elemental reappraisal of national aspirations…
– Ken Rodgers, Re-Envisioning; Living in the Longer Now


The Bride of Boneyard Kitaro as told by David Greer
Nunoe didn’t understand why Shigeru drew what he did, but he put his soul in his drawings, and admiration blossomed in her heart. When deadlines loomed, she helped him — inked backgrounds, stippled patterns, crosshatched roofs. Gradually, she saw past the grotesquerie, grinned at the characters that wiggled into life at the end of Shigeru’s pen, and looked forward to seeing what happened to them next.

Kyoto Notebook:
The Old Brown Overcoat: Kyoto in the Sixties – Bill Clements
The year of our arrival, 1964, was a big year. It saw the first Olympic Games in Asia — in Tokyo; the first Nobel Prize in Science/Physics awarded to a Japanese scientist, Yukawa Hideki; the first high-speed trains between Tokyo and Kyoto. In those years, Kyoto was the destination for many people and, before the term ‘multi-culturalism’ had any currency, we found ourselves living a multi-cultural life with people from all over the world, very different from life in a diplomatic or business enclave.

Crossroads – Joel Stewart
The idea of juxtaposing screens to make a much larger work came to me by accident actually, when one day my 76 yr. old screen-maker, Fujita Masao, delivered three small-scale screens of mine to the studio. In his usual rush, he stood them up in random order together for me to check. The kaleidoscopic effect of all the imagery snaking around the room, coupled with the modular, sculptural presence of the three screens playing off each other was an epiphany for me.

Parabolic Paintings: New Art Genre Meets Ancient Temple – Brian Williams
Stepping out onto the balcony of the Kiyomizu Temple Main Hall is a liberating sensation. One’s eyes soar first over a green and forested vale, and then over the urban world of modern Kyoto beyond. A World Heritage site, Kiyomizu is the most visited destination in Japan, and among the most visited in the world.

Kiwa: 21st-Century Woodblock

Behind the Brocade Curtain – Catherine Pawasarat
In the early 1990s I unwittingly moved into a Gion Festival neighborhood. I knew it was the traditional kimono district, but I didn’t know anything about kimono, nor about the festival, and certainly not that neighborhoods of kimono merchants had sponsored the festival for as long as anyone can remember.

Special Feature: Restoring Dignity

These stories, from Iran, Afghanistan, Korea and Cambodia, all deal with how individuals, through active support, and their own committed efforts, are overcoming dehumanizing circumstances to regain not only self-respect, but a restored sense of humanity.

Hearing Their Voices: The Afghan Women’s Writing Project – Deni Bechard, Lana Sleciz
On joining AWWP, Afghan women, often acting partly or entirely in secret, work in secure online classrooms with one of approximately eighteen women volunteers in the US. These teachers and authors guide the students, helping them develop their ideas.

A Tale of Two Provinces, A Tale of Two Pagodas – Vinita Ramani Mohan
Like so many ethnic minorities living along international borders, the Khmer Krom people, the lowland Khmers of the Mekong Delta region, are a stark reminder of inter-ethnic animosities; of disputes over lands lost in the postcolonial re-drawing of boundaries.

It is Difficult: The Abu Ghraib Images of Daniel Heyman
The Iraqis I interviewed, released by the American military after many months or years of detention, were never formally accused of a crime, brought to a trial or given legal representation. When they left Abu Ghraib, many were given a $20 bill and dropped off in the middle of the night in a random Baghdad neighborhood — this was called “the happy bus.”

Remembering Gwangju – Photo Essay By Matthias Ley
Thirty-one years ago, on May 18, 1980, students and citizens of Gwangju, South Korea united in the Gwangju Democratization Movement, and rose up against Chun Doo-hwan’s military dictatorship in an incident known as the Gwangju Uprising. Within ten days, however, the movement had been brutally crushed, with hundreds of citizens beaten to death in the streets or slaughtered by paratroopers with bayonets.


Urban Nomads: Mongolia in Transition – Christal Whelan
Without running water, sanitation, and basic infrastructure, these ger districts expand horizontally and crawl rhizomically up the hillsides so that the newly-arrived nomads reside on the most distant summits. Although the lives of these urban nomads may actually take a downward spiral in their new environment, they are likely to tell people back home how congenial life is in the city. In this way, they foment incessant waves of migration to Ulaanbaatar.

Heroes of the Hills – Angela Long
Though they bear crude-looking tattoos of Batman symbol and cannabis leaf, there are no track marks or hollowed- out eyes. Though I know they’re over thirty, they barely seem to have aged past eighteen. They look more like hip IT graduates than men who have spent half their lives injecting drugs into their veins.

Jungle Hermit in Sri Lanka– Matteo Pistono
I have made it a habit as I travel around the world to ask locals about their holy men or magicians. I have been taken to funky astrologers in Chennai, ash-covered
ascetics in Kathmandu, mountain yogis outside Dergé, and along the way encountered my share of bona fide charlatans.

Theyyam: Kerala’s “Theatre of the Double” – John Brandi
The shrine before me is a family one, yet the ceremony extends to the community — a collective séance where people can enter the realm of their spirit protectors. Theyyam deities are pre-Hindu tutelary spirits indigenous to the Keralan forests, somewhat overlaid with a veneer of Hindu concepts.

Curling – Marc P. Keane
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.

In Translation:
Aesthetics of the Nonexistent – Yukio Mishima
How can we categorize these poems? We should not ask whether they are successful in depicting emotions or sensations, since that was not the poets’ intention. Perhaps all we can say is that they drift and float around the boundary between the world within us and the world without.

Chen-Ou Liu:
Being Human

Kath Abela Wilson:
Flight from Yazd
On finding a marker between pages in a book left by my late husband

Pascale Petit:
Atlas Moth, Hieroglyph Moth

Hong Ying: Trailblazer of China’s Tell-All Memoirs – Karen Ma
When it comes to memoir-writing, the Chinese view differs greatly from that of Westerners. Westerners feel the best memoirs express life truthfully so long as the art form effectively conveys the author’s message. But for Chinese, uncovering personal scars is considered shameful. As a result, Chinese writers only write about other people’s shortcomings and are unable to confront their own.

Know Nature: Gary Snyder on Endangered Wilderness – Roy Hamric

Consuela Faces the Jungle Snake – E. K. Entrada
The jungle was part of our world, but oddly separate from it — no one in my barangay ever actually climbed the hills that led into its belly and yet, after Teotico parked his old and rambling truck at its feet, we hopped out, walked through the black cloud of lingering exhaust, and started climbing as if we were skilled tribesman.

More Light Than Darkness – Robert Brady
This is the way it should be, these young women happy to be giving a gift that is more
than just the food they bring, each day doing wonders that they never thought of before, in turn receiving the gift that many never come to in all their lives: the understanding that elders need the young, but the young need elders just as much.

In the Shadow of the Buddha: Secret Journeys, Sacred Histories, and Spiritual Discovery in Tibet by Matteo Pistono – Catherine Pawasarat
Zen Women: Beyond Tea Ladies, Iron Maidens and Macho Masters by Grace Schireson – Susan Murphy
Forsaken by Lana Šlezi´c – Albie Sharpe
At Home in Japan: A Foreign Woman’s Journey of Discovery by Rebecca Otowa. – Rebecca Dosch-Brown
The 1918 Shikoku Pilgrimage of Takamure Itsue: An English translation of Musume Junreiki by Itsue Takamure – Ted Taylor
Tonoharu: Part Two by Lars Martinson – David Cozy
Houses and Gardens of Kyoto, Photography by Akihiko Seki, text by Thomas Daniell – Mari Katsui
Brave Story by Miyuki Miyabe, translated by Alexander O. Smith, and Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, by Nahoko Uehashi, translated by Cathy Hirano – Avery Udagawa
Ezra Pound’s Chinese Friends: Stories in Letters edited and annotated by Zhaoming Qian, Lawrence Schourup
In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin – David Cozy
Hiroshima by Ishiuchi Miyako – David Greer

Cover Image: Scintillate, part of the “Hand series,” a suite of aquatint etchings printed on iridescent washi, by Sarah Brayer (

Published 2012, 144pp