Author Archives: Michael Lambe

Kyoto Soundscapes Vol. 1: The Kyoto Connection – Free Album Download

A message from Facundo Arena…

In August, 2016 Roberto Gluck wandered through the streets of Kyoto recording urban sounds with his smartphone. On the other side of the world in Argentina, Facundo Arena has used those sounds to create a unique musical soundscape.


The result is an album of ambient music, made with urban sounds of Kyoto city which is free to download here:

BRDG presents “117 -one one seven” “Ghost House Gone House” @ Urbanguild; 10/23


Our friend Bridget Scott writes…

I’d like to tell you about a performance that I have been involved in. It began with me being interviewed by Keiko Yamaguchi,the director of a Kyoto based theatre group BRDG. The first question she asked me was, “Tell me about the house you grew up in.” After two hours, she declared it could be the starting point of a play. Yamaguchi also interviewed my aged father in London. The story emerged by weaving these two interviews together. Now three years later, we – that’s BRDG( Keiko Yamaguchi, Tatsunori Imamura and Hiromi Demura actors and Toru Koda as sound technician) have just returned from performing the resulting piece “117-one-one-seven” in London, in the same neighbourhood as the house.

On Sunday 23rd October, we shall transform Urbanguild into a theatre space and perform 2 shows, a matinee and evening performance at 3pm and 8pm.

It is a double double bill with London based music duo, RABBIT who will improvise music to video of the same crumbling Victorian house.

Be warned this show will stimulate your senses, including your sense of smell and taste. It touches on issues of being a foreigner in Japan, amongst many other hearty topics. It is bilingual.

Urbanguild will be NO SMOKING and NO FOOD WILL BE SERVED on 23rd October. This will enable the audience to hear the spoken word and enjoy the smells generated by the performance.

More information in English:

FaceBook link:


This production has been funded by DAIWA and SASAKAWA FOUNDATIONS and crowdfunding and blood sweat and tears of BRDG theatre company.


Alex Kerr Book Launch Party – Another Kyoto

Last night I attended a book launch party for Alex Kerr’s latest book, Another Kyoto. The setting was a lovely old machiya townhouse in the Kamishichiken area of Kyoto where his friend and co-author, Kathy Arlyn Sokol has been living. Apparently about 70 people attended the event, and it certainly did feel like a crowd in the unseasonably hot weather. It was a nice occasion though, and I was happy at the opportunity to meet some old friends, and new people – and not least Alex Kerr himself!

Kathy Arlyn Sokol & Alex Kerr

Kathy Arlyn Sokol & Alex Kerr

Another Kyoto is a book born out of conversations that Alex had with his friend Kathy whilst strolling round some of his favorite locations in Kyoto. It is on the surface a book about architecture: gates, walls, floors and roofs… However, the book goes much deeper than that into the culture that has produced these architectural forms, into exactly why they take the forms that they do, into what these forms signify, and also rather interestingly it compares and contrasts these forms with those of other cultures with which Alex Kerr has a great deal of familiarity, those of China, or Bali, or Thailand for example. I am still only on chapter 3 myself but am finding it very absorbing and not least because of the style in which it is written. Kathy Sokol spoke last night about how the book is a transmission of old and erudite knowledge that has been passed down through generations of scholars to Alex, and now through him to us. And this is true. However, the tone in which it is written is so light and conversational that it really doesn’t feel like a heavy or scholarly book at all, but more like a chat with a particularly knowledgeable friend while sightseeing. That’s quite a balance they have struck there and it makes for a very enjoyable read!

John Dougill with Alex Kerr

John Dougill with Alex Kerr

Let me a add a quick word of thanks to John Dougill of the Writers in Kyoto group for suggesting last night’s event and also to Kathy and Alex for organizing and hosting it. I must admit I was very excited to finally meet Alex Kerr, whose book Lost Japan was a huge inspiration for me before moving to Japan in the 1990s. I was glad to find him in person to be just as amiable and friendly as I had imagined from his books. It was a very nice evening.


More pictures and details about the event, plus a video link can be found on the Writers in Kyoto website.

Another Kyoto by Alex Kerr with Kathy Arlyn Sokol is available from

Vent & Eau – A Concert by Yannick Paget

Yannick Paget will conduct an original concert “Voice of 風水” for La Nuit Blanche at Kyoto Art Center on October 1st from 16.00 – 17.30.


Here’s Yannick with some background to the piece:

“It was an exciting challenge to start the new KAC’s cycle “listening to the voice of Feng shui”, especially in a town like Kyoto that had a minister of Feng Sui for so many years and that incarnate the rules of Feng Sui. I tried in my piece “Vent et Eau” to catch the spirit of this science. Feng shui regulates our environment to produce balance and harmony; it allies poetry and science, spirituality and rationality, using many different tools.

I didn’t explore in this piece all of them but I choose to highlight the feng shui compass Which organize elements, direction and seasons and the magic square that forms the foundation of many feng shui tools and calculations.

The 5th elements:
“Vent et eau” is the French translation of the kanjis風and 水, the two main element of the feng shui. They appear first in this piece introduction because the wind and the water disperse and stop all energies on earth. Then, I worked with the 5th elements as such dissimilar musical substances that have to find a unity and an harmony.
Each element is associated to a group of instruments and succeeds in the cycle of birth order, each one giving birth and nourishing the following one: Earth (strings), Metal (brass), Water (harp, piano), Wood (clarinet, flute), Fire (percussions)
The final evokes, the « shi » or the « ki », with fusion and harmony

To associate each element to a direction, all instruments are spatialized;
Earth (strings): CENTER, Metal (brass): WEST, Water (harp, piano): NORTH Wood (clarinet, flute): EST, Fire (percussions): SOUTH

Seasons are interposed as a link connecting each element.
That way, ruff non-human & mineral material also alternates with human life and the rhythms of seasons. The singers, to express the season and this human life sing text extract from the timelessness haikus from Basho.

The magic square in which all numbers add to 15 in all directions
I used It for the rhythms with cycle of 15 bits and combination like 7 /5 /3: (3/2/2) (3/2) (3).
I worked with Modes of limited transposition compiled by the French composer Olivier Messiaen. They are musical modes or scales that fulfill specific criteria relating to their symmetry and the repetition of their interval groups.
In the final, I choose the Mode of limited transposition number 3. It includes 9 notes each of them being assigned to a number. Then I could generate chords of 3 notes using the magic square.”

– Yannick Paget September 2016

For more information please visit the Kyoto Art Center website at

“To The Village Square” – An Evening with Photographer Lionel Delevingne

Here’s a message from Lionel Delevingne about an event tomorrow night!


Friday, September 30th
7pm 〜9pm

at Impact Hub Kyoto

Lionel Delevingne will be at Impact Hub Kyoto to present and speak about the photographic images from his book “To The Village Square”, with comments from Aileen Mioko Smith of Green Action (Kyoto). We look forward to a lively discussion with audience and speakers.

To the Village Square
From Montague to Fukushima: 1975- 2014

Retracing the birth of the safe energy movement starting in Montague, Massachusetts in 1974 through Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima.

“To the village square we must carry the facts of atomic energy.
From there must come America’s voice.”
Albert Einstein, June 1946

Place: Impact Hub Kyoto
Nishijin IT ro-ji building ,97 Kainokamicho, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto
(Just west of Aburanokoji and Nakadachiuri intersection.)
Enter from the gate at west side of building next to pay phone.
Phone: 075-417-0115

English / Japanese interpreting.
All Welcome.
No reservation required.
Admission Free
Green Action
E-mail: info[at]

The 7th Kyoto Photo Walk with Javier Montano!

It’s happening again! Wait – I think I recognize these two…


Here’s our friend Javier Montano with the details:

The 7th Kyoto Photo Walk:

– Meet new friends and learn about photography in beautiful Fushimi-inari Taisha.

– All you need is a camera or a smartphone

– Let’s Take the biggest selfie in Kyoto!

– Please register now, It is FREE! You have 2 options:

Join just the photo walk or
Join the photo walk and the after party at a Japanese izakaya for food and drinks (about 3.000 Yen per person which is paid on the day of the event).


Are there ID requirements or an age limit to enter the event?

No. Anyone can come. If you can walk and go up stairs you can come!

What are my transport/parking options getting to the event?

Your options:

– Come by train to Fushimi-Inari Station (伏見稲荷駅 Fushimi-Inari-eki) a railway station located in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, on the Keihan Electric Railway Keihan Main Line.

– Come by train by JR Inari Station, the second station from Kyoto Station along the JR Nara Line.

– Buses are available too but it depends where are you coming from.

What can I bring to the event?

Please bring a camera. Any camera will do. Other gear such as tripods are welcomed as well.

Where can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Send me a message at

When: Sunday, September 25, 2016 from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM (JST) – Add to Calendar

Where: Fushimi-Inari Station – Fushimi Ward, Kyoto Prefecture 612-0007

Register here: Kyoto Photowalk (7th!)

Arabesk Return to Kyoto


“One of the most rewarding aspects of living in a multicultural society like Australia is the remarkable diversity of music heard – African, European, Arabic, Asian, Latin. Sydney-based quartet Arabesk take these disparate international sounds, spice them with their musical experience and mould them into their own unique style. Theirs is a journey of constant discovery that defies genres. The label Gypsy Jazz is only a hint at the musical language this powerhouse of innovation speaks. Having won local awards, they play extensively throughout Australia at festivals and venues large and small.”

The brilliant Australian Gypsy Jazz band Arabesk will be playing with singer Akou at Modern Times, Kyoto on August 16th. Catch them if you can!

open 17:30 / start 18:00
*18:00 – 19:50 Live and Jam Session
*20:00 – 20:50 Okuribi Bonfire – Free Time
*:21:00 – 23:00 Live and Jam Session
charge 2500yen (+1Drink)

Location: Modern Times is in the basement of the Empire Building on the east side of Kiyamachi a short walk south of Oike. Here is a map.

Here’s a clip of them playing last year at Kyoto’s famous Blue Note venue.

The Tea Crane Introduces the Authentic Rite of Tea

Today we have a special guest post from Tyas Huybrechts, Japanese Tea Trainer at The Tea Crane.


While visiting Kyoto, you wouldn’t want to miss out on at least one of those cultural experiences now widely available here – activities such as taking first steps in any of Tea-ceremony, flower-arrangement, calligraphy, classical dance and Japanese cookery.

Each traditional Japanese art has come down to us imbued with the pre-modern philosophy and values upon which its founder and his successors drew. When people undertake to render so venerable an art more accessible to those with hardly any knowledge of the culture relevant, one unfortunately-prevalent tendency is irresponsibly to dumb down what is taught. This, however, falsifies the impression with which the learner is left, and withholds from her matters she might otherwise have found sympathetic, revelatory … and even inspiring.

Take, for example, Tea-ceremony. Upon attending a run-of-the-mill Tea-ceremony “experience,” you will be offered a perfunctory demonstration of a very basic service of thin tea (a lower grade of matcha – characterized, once prepared, by its surface of bright green froth), and then be provided with what you need to prepare a bowlful yourself – and for yourself.

Central to the Way of Tea is interaction between guest and host; and yet nothing of that can be gathered, either from a mere demonstration, or from serving only yourself.

Again, what is considered true tea is thick tea, which utilizes matcha of a higher grade, employed in a higher concentration. (Thin tea, on the other hand, is properly served at the very end of a full tea-gathering, as no more than an informal refreshment rounding off the climactic service of thick tea.)

Moreover, ‘Tea-ceremony’ – this term a most-regrettable mistranslation – is neither ceremony nor performance. Rather, a Tea-occasion is best understood as a social event for the success of which its guests have as much responsibility as does its host. Consequently, no “Tea-experience” can live up to that name as long as those attending remain uninvolved in active participation. Only once so engaged can they at least glimpse such a gathering’s true functioning.

If – in order to render it accessible to a wider range of persons – the forms characteristic of a pursuit are abbreviated, or its representation is distorted, what is actually offered will fail even to approximate that to which such treatment purports to afford access. In providing uninitiated persons with an authentic representation of an art, what should be adjusted to those persons’ likely needs is not that art itself but, instead, the means by which it is presented.


With these convictions firmly in mind, we at The Tea Crane have evolved an innovative and yet authentic workshop, designed for persons visiting Kyoto, and as yet remaining uninitiated with regard to the rite of Tea. What this offers is a full encounter with the core to the art of Tea, along with support for participants in functioning as an integral and therefore indispensable part of a genuine (and enjoyable) Tea-occasion.

Of the guidelines we observe, these following may be those most innovative:

・The workshop’s participants are presented with a shared bowlful of real tea – thick  tea – expertly blended according to a ritual unique to employment of the grand Tea-sideboard (daisu). (Use of this austere daisu is probably the very earliest, and still the most august and solemn, form of service of tea in the presence of guests (rather than elsewhere); and we have selected this service in order to aid our participants in traveling with us – back to that epoch during which the rite of Tea first arose.)

・From the start of each workshop-session its participants, rather than being left merely to look on, are requested to take active part in the rite, and are duly guided regarding so doing. Such guidance enables each participant to exchange respectful salutations with her host and fellow-guests, with the latter share and appreciate a bowlful of real tea, and gain at least an initial understanding of the principles, values and aims embodied in all conduct desirable in the Tea-chamber.

・The rite of Tea must surely be the most syncretic of all Japanese arts – combining as it does calligraphy, flower-arrangement, ceramics, lacquer-work and very much more. Since a competent Tea-practitioner should be well-versed in all of these, we help participants to acquire an initial understanding of what to look for in the utensils employed – these being each hand-crafted, valuable, and worthy of detailed attention – and handled by every participant in turn.

In brief, our aim is gently to initiate participants, during just ninety minutes, into the decorum expected of, and pleasures offered to, any well-mannered guest. In so doing, our dearest wish is that, when they return home, and people closest to them ask them what of Japan has left the deepest impression within them, former participants should at once reply, ‘A fascinating Tea-ceremony workshop! Once it had ended, I found I now understood so much!’

To read more about this workshop and other Tea-related activities, visit our website:

Tyas Huybrechts is a fully-accredited instructor in Tea ceremony, and in addition a nationally certified Nihoncha Instructor. His heart’s desire is to convey directly, and to as many interested persons as possible, the true essence of both Tea-culture and also Japanese tea.

Kyoto Journal #86 – OUT JULY 25th 2016

Some news from KJ…


The 6th Kyoto Photo Walk with Javier Montaño

Here’s our friend, Javier Montaño, with news of The 6th Kyoto Photo Walk. All queries regarding this event should be sent directly to Javier at


Date & Time: 24 April at 14:00–19:00
Meeting Place: Takaragaike Park, 国際会館駅 , Kokusai-Kaikan-eki. In front of Entrance No. 3 (train station on Subway Karasuma Line), Kyoto, JP

Spring has come and it’s time to shoot again- Meet new friends and learn about photography in beautiful Kyoto.- All you need is a camera or a smartphone- Let’s Take the biggest selfie in Kyoto!- The Photowalk is FREE of charge but you have 2 options:

Join just the photowalk or
Join the photowalk and the afterparty at a Japanese Izakaya for food and drinks (3000 Yen per person which is paid on the day of the event).

1. How do I make a reservation?
Easy! Go to the Eventbrite Photowalk event page. Click on “Register”. Select one of the 2 options: the photowalker ticket or the photowalker + afterparty ticket.
2. What if it rains?
We photograph in rain. In the event that there is a weather cancellation because of a Typhoon or something similar, I will do my best to contact and let you know. If, however, you are unsure, feel free to call or text 090-9889-1640 to see if the photowalk is still running.
3. What if I don’t have a DSLR or PRO camera?
It does not matter. Any camera will do!
4. What should I bring besides my camera?
Enthusiasm to meet new people. Friends or family are also fun to bring with you.
Dress appropriately for the weather, as we will be outside for the most part.
A tripod could be handy too, but it is not indispensable.
A bottle of water is a good idea too.
5. Where do we meet?
In front of Entrance No. 3 of the station at 2 PM
6.How long are the photowalks?
Normally they will last until around 6:30 PM or 7:00 PM. After that, we will move on to the afterparty.
7. Is everyone in the group at the same skill level?
Not at all! People come with different levels of photography experience but we all learn from each other.
8. How do you accept payment?
The photowalk is and will always be free! During the after party we will start receiving cash in order to pay for the food and drinks served.
9. Where can I contact the organizer with any questions?
Send me an email at
Remember, the photowalk is and will always be free!