Category Archives: Up-and-coming…

Artist Joel Stewart – Open Studio August 16-17

Kamigamo-1

“Kamigamo” by Joel Stewart

Our friend, the artist Joel Stewart, will have an open studio this Saturday and Sunday from 2pm – 6pm(ish), with a small sampling of prints and paintings from his collection. Says Joel, “Small works available starting in the Y10,000 range. Feel free to come by for a chat, a cool sip of tea and a browse….
Dates & Times: August 16th & 17th, 2pm – 6pm
Address: 41 Nishimomo no moto cho, Shichiku, Kita-ku, Kyoto, 603-8208. Tel
Joel’s Studio is two streets south of Kitayama Street and one street east of Omiya on the south side of Shichiku-kita Dori. “Look for the business sign on south side of street half way down that says:谷田工務店。My rickety old gate leading back off the street is right next door.”
Here is a MAP.
open studio 1

Flamenco & Piano by Carmen Alvarez & Ikeda Ippei at Bar Sesamo 8/15

Our friend Carmen Alvarez, accompanied by Jazz pianist Ikeda Ippei, will be giving a flamenco song & dance performance at bar Sesamo on the 15th August. The charge is 2000 yen and the show starts at 9pm. Details on the flyers below:
carmen 1 Carmen 2Bar Sesamo is in the basement of the Ebisu Kaikan building, one street north of Sanjo and east of Kawaramachi.

Kyoto’s “Yokai Densha” – Ghost Train Schedule for Summer 2014

A limited Ghost Train (妖怪電車) service will be bringing much needed chills for just 5 days this summer on the Randen Line between Shijo/Omiya and Arashiyama. You can check the dates and times on the flyer below. Just click on the flyer to view as a pdf.

yokai

妖怪電車
Trains will run on the following days: August 13th, 14th, 15th, 23th & 24th.
①嵐山駅 (Arashiyama) 17時05分発 ⇒ 四条大宮駅 (Shijo/Omiya) 17時27分着
②四条大宮駅 (Shijo/Omiya) 17時45分発 ⇒ 嵐山駅 (Arashiyama)  18時07分着
③嵐山駅 (Arashiyama) 18時35分発 ⇒ 四条大宮駅 (Shijo/Omiya) 18時57分着
④四条大宮駅 (Shijo/Omiya) 19時15分発 ⇒ 嵐山駅 (Arashiyama) 19時37分着
⑤嵐山駅 (Arashiyama) 20時05分発 ⇒ 四条大宮駅 (Shijo/Omiya)20時27分着
Fares for Adults: 200円, Elementary school students: 100円
妖怪 (Monsters): 50円

To view a video & learn more about this annual event check this article on Rocket News 24: Get your chills on the rails with Kyoto’s Ghost Train

Time Travelling on Gojō – An Extract from Deep Kyoto Walks by Jennifer Louise Teeter

Gojo Pottery Fair - Click to visit the official site (Japanese)

Gojō Pottery Fair – Click to visit the official site (Japanese)

Gojō Pottery Fair, in which pottery stalls line Gojō street all the way between Kawabata and Higashioji, begins August 7th and continues to August 10th. Simultaneously, in nearby Rokudo-san temple, is Kyoto’s very own festival of the dead, the Rokudo Mairi spirit welcoming festival. Jen Teeter explores both of these events and more in her DKW essay “Time Travelling on Gojō”, so here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite…

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The evening before the festival, potters were meticulously assembling their stalls. Incorrectly, I assumed they were only preparing the skeletons of their tents and shelves so that they could quickly fill them up with their inventory the following morning. When I stepped outside again around midnight, hundreds of unguarded stalls, all filled to the brim with precious pottery, bordered the expanse of Gojō. The sense of trust that people can have for each other here can be so uplifting.

When I set off early the next day, the normally drab pavement had been transformed into a bustling pottery-lover’s paradise. Upon approaching a stall selling clay incense holders, I was astonished at how a piece that was surely worth 5000 yen was going for a mere 1000. The artisan explained how potters looking to clean out their inventories for the next season are willing to part with their creations for a fraction of the original price.

On a mission, I began to weave my way through rows of crystalline Kiyomizu-yaki kettles and charming Shigaraki chawan. My husband had been looking for large ramen bowls for ages, and I found the perfect ones- leaf-shaped and earth-rusted, the sparkling, aquamarine waves of Okinawa flooding the inside.

“If I buy four big ones and four small ones, can I get a discount?”
“No, but I can give you these four sauce holders to complete your set.”

Score! After collecting my winnings, I carried on up Gojō-zaka. At a small side street called Kaneicho, I took a right and it was just as if I had slipped through the rabbit’s hole. Amidst the forgetful cityscape, there stood the wooden self-built home of master potter Kawai Kanjirō.

Kawai Kanjiro's House

Kawai Kanjiro’s House

The unassuming home dressed with an arched, bamboo inuyarai to keep dogs from relieving themselves on the walls, was the first of a whole street of renovated machiya. Two unpretentious wooden rabbits kissing at the front entrance greeted me as I ducked in. Making my way down the hallway, I clumsily took off my shoes, and gave 900 yen to the woman at the counter, who I would later learn was the granddaughter of Kawai.

Wabi and Sabi:
The beauty of poverty,
Ordered poverty.

Kawai’s haiku radiates his artistry and appreciation of wabi – beauty in poverty, and sabi – elegance in simplicity, emphasizing the intertwining of the human spirit with the imperfection of “perfect” nature. The chestnut walls and chairs of his sturdy house give a sense of permanence, reflecting the strong influence of Kawai on his environment.

My eyes immediately turned to the hearth that dominated the center of the home. An image sprung to mind of Kawai and his fellow artisans gathering around the fire for tea on a frosty, winter day. Exemplifying his ability to lure the extraordinary out of the ordinary, Kawai had concocted the stout chairs around the hearth out of wooden mortars for pounding rice. Next to the hearth was a jolly two-faced wooden statue, and as I continued around the first floor, I kept meeting its Janus-faced relatives hidden in corners here and there. One of them was even posed to give me a peck on the cheek.

Around the house curious items are present in unexpected places. In the courtyard, a miniature stone monk collects meager offerings in front of his person, while a dog-sized, beckoning, stone cat balancing coins on its head welcomes guests at the entrance to the giant kilns. These kilns were once fired up several times monthly and shared by twenty different families in the community.

Kawai seemed to have an affinity for the human hand, the female hand in particular. A hand, which must have been severed off of the Statue of Liberty, adorned one of the shelves near the kilns; there were hands with fingers pointing up; and others were holding flowers. A turquoise ceramic figure, with its rising index finger, seemed to embody the potential of human expression.

Returning back inside, I climbed up to the second floor to find a yet another statue of two rabbits kissing, this time cast in bronze. In the drawing room was a giant tree stump-turned-table, its surfaced smoothed by human touch. Two wooden chairs with seats carved perfectly to support the human buttocks, kept the table company. The vitality of the tree from which this chair was forged emanated from the swirly tree rings carefully positioned exactly where the left and right buttocks hit the seat. After a momentary break in the chair, I headed back downstairs.

After bidding farewell to the granddaughter and the spirit of Kawai whose presence reverberated through the home, I headed to Toyokuni Jinja, dedicated to daimyo Toyotomi Hideyoshi . Taking a left I followed the street lined with pottery-filled machiya, passed the stone with the “Don’t pee on me” sign, and turned right at the dilapidated machiya at the end of the row. Down the hill at the next intersection adorned with cigarette machines, I headed south until I arrived at the wall which forms an impressive, stone perimeter around Toyokuni Shrine. Covered with moss, and almost twice my height, I could not imagine how people had managed to schlep the Goliath stones to the temple, let alone assemble them as if they had been forged together by fire. As I was about to ascend the stairs to the shrine, a huge, grassy hill crowned with a granite statue attracted my attention.

Children playing on teeter-totters ignored me as I pulled myself up to the sign in front of the hill. Mimizuka or “Ear Hill” (originally Hanazuka or “Nose Hill”). What on earth could that mean?

Mimizuka

Mimizuka

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Text and photographs by Jennifer Louise Teeter. To read the rest of this story, download our book here: Deep Kyoto:Walks.


DeepKyoto-cover-0423-finalAbout Deep Kyoto: Walks

Deep Kyoto: Walks is an independently produced anthology of meditative strolls, rambles, hikes and ambles around Japan’s ancient capital. All of the writers and artists involved in this project have lived and worked in Kyoto for many years and know it intimately. The book is in part a literary tribute to the city that they love and in part a tribute to the art of walking for its own sake.

About Jennifer Louise Teeter
jen teeterJennifer Louise Teeter is lecturer at Kyoto University in Japan. Born in a suburb of Chicago and having lived in Japan for 12 years, she serves as the Media and Campaigns Coordinator for Greenheart Project which is developing an open source hybrid sail/solar cargo ship tailored to the needs of small island developing states while volunteering as an editor for the Heartwork section of Kyoto Journal (www.kyotojournal.org). She blogs with two other women at Ten Thousand Things (www.tenthousandthingsfromkyoto.blogspot.jp). She is also a “singer in a rock-and-roll band,” called the Meadowlarks.

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To learn more about Deep Kyoto: Walks please check the following links:
About the Book
Extracts
Reviews
Videos
Interviews

Kyoto Tanabata Festival 2014 – River Illuminations & National Food Fair!

Ancient Chinese legend has it that the celestial lovers Hikoboshi & Orihime (represented by the stars AltairVega)  are separated by the vast Milky Way and can meet up only once a year on the 7th day of the 7th month. This festival was brought to Japan during the Nara Period (710 to 794) and became mixed with Japanese Obon traditions of weaving a cloth on a loom to offer to ancestral spirits.  More recently people celebrate  by writing wishes, on small pieces of paper called tanzaku, and hanging them on decorated bamboo wish trees.

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Kamogawa Nōryō includes a highly recommended national food fair.

Ever traditional, Kyoto City celebrates the Tanabata star festival according to the old lunar calendar (which effectively means we get to celebrate it twice) and this year that is from Saturday August 2nd until the 11th.

By the Horikawa river there will be a series of illuminated artworks, bamboo wish trees and the highlight is the “Milky Way of Lights” – which we went to see last year.

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A Milky Way tunnel of love!

For more details of what’s on in the Horikawa & Nijo Castle area visit the 京の七夕 website. Here are some more pictures from our visit last year.

Similarly, the Kamo river also will be decorated with lights and bamboo wish trees, however the highlight for me is the two-day 鴨川納涼 (Kamogawa Nōryō – or “Cool Evening by the Kamo River”). This takes place on Saturday August 2nd from 17:00〜22:00 and Sunday the 3rd from 17:00〜21:30. There will be stalls selling food and drink from around the country, some musical (and magical!) acts and a demonstration of yuzen dyeing in the river. Again, we went to this last year and we really enjoyed it. Check the official 京の七夕 site for more details.

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Here are the lyrics to a rather sweet Tanabata folk song, 七夕さま (Tanabata-sama), and the song itself in a video below. Sing along if you like!

ささのは さらさら
The bamboo leaves rustle,
のきばに ゆれる
shaking away in the eaves.
お星さま きらきら
The stars twinkle
きんぎん すなご
on the gold and silver grains of sand.
ごしきの たんざく
The five-colour paper strips
わたしが かいた
I have already written.
お星さま きらきら
The stars twinkle,
空から 見てる
they watch us from heaven.*

*From Wikipedia.

Hiking Mount Atago – An Extract from Deep Kyoto Walks by Sanborn Brown

atago
As the annual Sennichi Tsuyasai pilgrimage to the top of Mount Atago takes place this Thursday (July 31st), I thought I would post an extract from Hiking Mount Atago by Sanborn Brown. In this excerpt from our book Deep Kyoto: Walks, Sanborn describes his ascent with an eccentric tea ceremony master, and other pilgrims, to the top of Mount Atago, during this very special festival. For those who don’t know much about this festival, here’s a brief explanation from Sanborn’s excellent Cycle Kyoto site:

…on the night of July 31, Mount Atago witnesses a huge number of pilgrims. On that night, from roughly 9 pm, Mount Atago plays host to “Sennichi Tsuyasai,” a festival that is all about fire, both good and bad.

It is a holy and profound and magical night not to be missed.

The origin of the festival derives from the hope for a thousand days of flame (cooking, heating), and also for a thousand days without home-wrecking fire. From top to bottom, the hike is roughly four kilometers. Hikers gather in the village of Kiyotaki at the base of the mountain around dusk. To guide them, the city strings up lights from Kiyotaki to the very top at Atago Shrine. Families, couples, older people, and groups make the hike up a crowded and sociable affair. Once at the top, pilgrims can purchase good luck charms that are said to ward off fire and bad luck. [Click to Read More]

Picture 12 Mount Atago by Sanborn Brown (Medium)

Hiking Mount Atago

From the stone steps in front of the imposing gate of Ninna-ji Temple and its two wooden Nio-san deities protecting the walled compound, a Japanese friend who calls himself Amigo and I head west on squeaky single-gear mamachari bikes. It is 8 pm on a sultry late July night and a bright moon lights our way. After an up-down stretch along which homebound commuters in cars speed past us, Lake Hirosawa spreads out on our right. This manmade lake was dug out around 969 C.E. so that the monks at nearby Henjō-ji Temple would have a better view. Today it is popular for bird watching, strolling its 1.3 km (almost a mile) perimeter, or paddling about in a rental boat. On our left, in the darkness, the smell of farm fields is pungent. We continue on to the northern outskirts of Arashiyama. Panting our way up a narrow bumpy slope lined by traditional homes and buildings, we park beyond Adashino Nenbutsu Temple (once a dumping ground for corpses) in a bike lot set up every year on this one evening. The barely lit tree-covered lot is manned by a lone uniformed guard in reflective gear, and is already filled with hundreds of bikes.

From there, it is a fifteen-minute walk up and over a hill on an old mountain road. Normally, pedestrians and cyclists are allowed to make a white-knuckle trip through the 500-meter long single-lane tunnel once used by trains. On this night however only vehicles are permitted to enter. We are already coated in a sheen of sweat when we reach the top. In the distance below us, at the opposite end of the tunnel, there is lighting and people are milling about in hiking gear; some have finished, others like us are about to set out.

Kiyotaki

Here, at the foot of Mount Atago, we find our party waiting in front of the Toenkyo Bashi (“Monkey Crossing Bridge”) that spans the Kiyotaki River. Fellow pilgrims, they will hike with us to the top of the mountain tonight, returning in the early hours of the following morning. Like Amigo, they are all learning sado, the Japanese tea ceremony. After short introductions, the group forms a circle, and in the center our leader – the rotund, elephant-kneed, and blustery tea Sensei – does a quick head count. All incline toward him toward him; then, on his command, we set off.

Having proceeded 20 meters, Sensei calls us to an abrupt halt in the middle of the bridge that will take us into the village of Kiyotaki. We have to check for the legendary Japanese giant salamander, which is said to inhabit the cool and clear waters of the river below. Sensei gives a brief talk on the creatures while we peer into the darkness below…

…After the brief lecture concludes, followed by a thirty-second scan of the dark waters below for a possible sighting of one of the reticent nocturnal giants, Sensei orders us onward, “Let’s go, let’s go! We’ll find one on the way down.”

Sensei wobbles on in front, his two wooden hiking sticks flailing out on either side of his torso as we press through the village. His bulk heaves in syncopated locomotion. The village is thronged with hikers and nighttime activity, but we move through it quickly to the entrance to the trail – passing under the vermillion torii gate that signifies that we are entering holy ground – and begin the ascent of the 924-meter high mountain, the highest in Kyoto.

Sennichi Tsuyusai Festival

This nighttime trek up an ancient pilgrimage route is part of the annual Sennichi Tsuyasai festival, which is held at Atago every July 31st until the early hours of August 1st. It is a hike to the peak on which Atago Shrine sits.

Our ascent commences in the aforementioned Kiyotaki, a rural hamlet made up of an art gallery, several restaurants, and a handful of houses. On this night, a tent has been set up in the village; under it sits a cluster of firemen who will be there until morning ready to respond in the event of injury or an emergency. Kiyotaki is one of several entrances to the mountain but the main one for the festival (it is also the “male” entrance to Atago; a “female” entrance can be found near JR Hozukyō Station on the other side of the mountain). The distance to the top is marked in two ways: by Jizo statues, adorned with red bibs and spaced roughly 109 meters apart; and, more legibly, by umber-colored placards set up by the fire department. The latter breaks the hike into forty stages, and each of the forty signs has a hand-written fire prevention slogan.

“Go on ahead! Go on, go on, don’t wait for me; it will take me hours to get to the top,” barks an out of breath Sensei after the initial climb. This is the first of his many breaks along the route. “Besides, we have all night, and someone has to keep an eye out for Tengu!” The mythical Tengu, the legendary long-nosed creature in Japanese folklore, is thought to have resided at, among other locations, Atago since ancient times.

The first nineteen stages are a steady climb, busy with colorfully dressed pilgrims in every manner of hiking gear. From that point, the trail becomes less severe, even flat in places. At one rest place, near the 20th stage, we take a break. From here, the lights of Kyoto twinkle far below in the distance through an opening in the trees…

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Text and photographs by Sanborn Brown. To read the rest of this story (and learn more about giant salamanders!), download our book here: Deep Kyoto:Walks.


DeepKyoto-cover-0423-finalAbout Deep Kyoto: Walks

Deep Kyoto: Walks is an independently produced anthology of meditative strolls, rambles, hikes and ambles around Japan’s ancient capital. All of the writers and artists involved in this project have lived and worked in Kyoto for many years and know it intimately. The book is in part a literary tribute to the city that they love and in part a tribute to the art of walking for its own sake.

About Sanborn Brown
Sanborn Brown teaches at Osaka Kyoiku University, and writes for www.CycleKyoto.com and www.JapanVisitor.com. He also has a blog, Miyako on Two Wheels at www.cyclekyoto.blogspot.jp. He is from Philadelphia, USA, and has lived in Kyoto for more than a decade.

Author photo by Stéphane Barbery.
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To learn more about Deep Kyoto: Walks please check the following links:
About the Book
Extracts
Reviews
Videos
Interviews

Awakening/Leadership Workshop with Catherine Pawasarat @ Impact HUB Kyoto; July 25th

A two-hour workshop with Mindful Catalyst and Social Entrepreneur Catherine Pawasarat, building on her 12 Jul presentation on the Gion Festival’s spiritual traditions and sustainability.

leadership

Beyond the hype, mindfulness and conscious entrepreneurship are coming together to create the future we seek. Awakening/Leadership is a program for Changemakers in startups, non-profits and established businesses that combines transformative practices to bring the change you want to see in the world to your organization. HUB Kyoto member, environmental journalist turned social non-profit founder and CVO (Chief Visionary Officer) Catherine Pawasarat offers this powerful workshop for change, following on its joint offering at HUB Tokyo on 10 July with Tokyo social entrepreneur and philanthropist John Munroe (HUB Tokyo member).

Catherine has studied and practiced “Impact Leadership” for years, in the Brazilian Amazon, traditional Kyoto, and North America, participating in the Social Venture Institute, ALIA and BALLE-related Community Economic Development. Ten years ago she helped found the 310-acre Clear Sky Retreat Center in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, where as Chief Visionary Officer she’s helped develop and implement a social business-based program combining mindfulness and leadership.

Awakening/Leadership offers:
Drawing on leadership skills to bring about the positive future we want to create
Using the wisdom of natural cycles to find opportunities in challenges
A practical approach to changing the world: changing oneself
Using conscious intention to direct the energy of our projects or organizations
Pair and group exercises to support our learning process

Time & Date: 19:00–20:45, Friday July 25th
Participation fee:
¥3,000
Impact HUB Kyoto Members: Special Price! ¥1,000!
Location: Impact HUB Kyoto. Access details and map here: http://kyoto.impacthub.net/access/?lang=en

Some of Catherine’s involvements:
http://gionfestival.com/
http://akasavisionconsulting.com/
http://planetdharma.com/
http://clearskycenter.org/

See also John Dougill’s review of Catherine’s Gion Matsuri talk here: http://www.greenshinto.com/wp/2014/07/14/gion-festival-talk/

Daijoubu! Photography & Kansai’s International Portrait Project

kansai-int-projectsmallA message from Javier Montaño of Daijoubu! Photography:

Are you a foreigner living in Japan? Would you like to have a professional take your portrait for free? Then this may be your chance. Three people from Kansai will be selected based on an interesting photo idea they submit.

Just imagine a place where you would like your photo taken, decide what kind of clothes you would wear in the atmosphere of your choice. If you are selected we will work it out to make your dream a reality.

All you have to do is send your information and explain your concept in 50 words or less by using the form at the end of this page. The better the idea the greater the chance to win!

Submissions will be accepted until July 31, 2014. The winners will have their portraits taken somewhere between August and October.

For full details and an application form please visit http://www.javiermontano.net/kp/

Talk and tea tasting with Jeff Fuchs @ Robert Yellin’s Yakimono Gallery, July 10th

From Kyoto Journal:
tea horse road

A Kyoto Journal Hosted Event: THE TEA HORSE ROAD
Talk and tea tasting with explorer Jeff Fuchs
10 July 2014 @ Robert Yellin’s Yakimono Gallery
Session One: 1pm
Session Two: 6pm
Maximum of 12 participants per session. RSVP REQUIRED: feedback[at]kyotojournal.org
Entry: ¥1,000

The ancient origins of tea and the present hotbed of the rapidly rising Puerh teas, southern Yunnan was for centuries the remote base from which the green stimulant made its way along the famed Tea Horse Road. A look at the most ancient tea tree forests on the globe and what is left of one of the most daunting trade routes in history. For much of history southern Yunnan’s minorities have cultivated teas that were largely items of trade and tribute. Puerhs from the ancient forests now command enormous prices amongst collectors ironically because of the fact that their production techniques have remained largely unchanged and the raw materials unequalled. Ancient medicine, panacea for the masses, and a fuel and food of timeless vitality.

Award-winning explorer, author and tea procurer Jeff Fuchs presents the origins and routes of Asia’s eternal green. This will also be opportunity to sample Yunnanese tea.

ABOUT JEFF FUCHS:
North Face Ambassador and award-winning explorer Jeff Fuchs, was the first westerner to have travelled by foot the legendary Tea Horse Road over the Himalayas – a journey that took over 7 months. He followed that up with becoming the first documented westerner to journey along and document ‘Tsa-Lam’, The nomadic ‘Route of Salt’ through the eastern Himalayas, a month long foot journey. He subsequently won an ‘Explorer of the Year’ award for “sustainable exploration of the Himalayan Trade Routes”. He most recently completed 36-day expedition along the Route of Wind and Wool through the Himalayas.

Fuchs is a ‘Scholar-in-Residence’ with the prestigious ‘East-West Center’ in Hawaii, counseling and mentoring on the Himalayas’ and advocating a more full understanding of Asia. He is fluent in Mandarin, French, and Tibetan and has counseled PhD students from 22 different countries during his time at the East West Center.

Fuchs’ work has centered on indigenous mountain cultures, oral histories and an obsessive interest in tea. His photos and stories have appeared on three continents in award-winning publications, UNESCO, The Huffington Post, and Outpost Magazine, as well as The Spanish Expedition Society, The Earth, The Toronto Star, The South China Morning Post and Traveler amongst others.

Fuchs has spoken to institutions, universities and schools around the world on the importance of oral narratives and sustainable exploration and tea culture. His work and life have been featured in numerous publications including the Huffington Post and the Financial Times.

He is an admitted ‘tea addict’ who never journeys without an assortment of green leaves to fuel him and is the co-founder of JalamTeas. When he isn’t sipping tea or exploring, he’s based in Shangri-la, northwestern Yunnan, where he’s been for the past 10 years.

Please remember to direct all inquiries to Kyoto Journal at feedback[at]kyotojournal.org!

John Dougill’s Book ‘Japan’s World Heritage Sites’ to be Launched @ Tadg’s Gastro Pub, Kyoto, July 11th

jwhsFrom our friend & fellow DK Walker, John Dougill:John-Dougill-2-242x300An invitation to the book launch of John Dougill’s new publication, ‘Japan’s World Heritage Sites’, which involved him travelling the length of Japan, from Shiretoko in Hokkaido to the Ryukyu ruins of Okinawa.

It’s a large format richly illustrated book, with over 150 photos by John himself supplemented by Picture Library items.
Place: Tadg’s Restaurant just north of Oike Kiyamachi.  (Tel. )
Here is a MAP.
Date: Friday, July 11th.
The event will take place from 6.30 pm to 8.00 pm.  Free buffet and a cash bar.   There will be a lottery to give away free copies for marketing purposes, and books will also be on sale at a substantial discount price (they make excellent
gifts!).
For more about the book, see the Amazon page.
There’s also an early review at GoJapan.