Invitation to contribute – KJ 107 (Fire & Kyoto)

Kyoto Journal is all-volunteer based (and non-profit), and seeks to bring together creative writers, artists and photographers in exploring memorable and meaningful topics. Recent fine print editions on 100 Views of KyotoWater in Kyotoand Flora & Kyoto have provided opportunities to rediscover, redefine and re-envisage the inspirational city of Kyoto and its infinitely rich cultural context. Looking towards spring 2024, we aim to curate an informative and visually powerful response to the wide-ranging role of the primeval element of fire in Kyoto’s history and culture: KJ 107, Fire & Kyoto.

Fire transforms, renews and purifies. It is deeply embedded in the culture of Kyoto as a powerful destructive force, sacred agent and essential component of everyday life. The Repeated disastrous conflagrations over its long history have left an indelible mark on the psyche of the city, even today. Fire remains an integral part of spiritual and cultural practices in Kyoto, and the prevention of fire is an ever-present concern.
We have an extensive wish-list of topics that we are eager to include in this issue and would be happy to share with potential contributors—most obviously Kyoto’s signature fire festivals, Daimonji’s Gozan Okuribi and Kurama Himatsuri, and the lanterns of Gion Festival immediately come to mind. We’re also interested in the role of fire in the creation of ceramics, metal forging (bells, tea kettles, swords etc), in traditional Kyoto cuisine (even ‘fire ramen’), tea ceremony, cormorant-fishing, the many major Kyoto landmarks and swathes of the city lost to fires, and the consequent vast variety of rituals, charms, amulets, and symbolic presences of empowered protectors from fire.
As well as inviting submissions exploring the above topics, we’re naturally also interested in additional original proposals. We expect this issue to be highly visual, and have already alerted local photographers in our network. Length of articles will vary from captions to a single paragraph, to a standard 500 word two-page spread, to longer-form pieces of 1,000 or even up to 2,000 words where justified.  We would like to receive and confirm proposals by mid-October, if possible, but the deadline for submissions will be early January, at the latest (early submissions are always most welcome). 
If you are interested in this project, have suggestions, or would like further details, please get in touch—we look forward to hearing from you through our contact[at] address!
Jann Williams has kindly offered to be guest editor for this eclectic issue.. Please cc her at jannewilliams[at]

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Photo: Leading the Oni King down the mountain during the Setsubun festival at Yoshida Shrine. Photo by John Einarsen