Category Archives: Interviews

Notebook on Cities and Culture Visits Deep Kyoto

Back in November Colin Marshall, the host of the Notebook on Cities & Culture podcast, visited Kansai from his home base in  Los Angeles and interviewed a number of local characters including celebrated writer Pico Iyer and sound artist Tim Olive. He also interviewed me and that interview is now online.

The Foreign Guy

I must say he did a pretty good job of editing it too, as I don’t come across as too much of a babbling fool. In my dotage though I did make the mistake of saying Minamata sickness was caused by lead pollution. I should point out that it was actually mercury that had been released  by a Chisso Corporation chemical factory into the bay for over 30 years. This is no small detail when you consider the terrible consequences this had on local people’s health…

Anyway, I enjoyed meeting Colin. Very nice chap. If you’re interested in hearing my interview here’s the link: “The Foreign Guy“. I’m looking forward to hearing the other Kansai interviews he conducted with friends John Dougill and Stephen Gill, and will post links to those as they go up.

An Interview with Mara Alper

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of ties between Mexico and Japan the Kampo Museum is currently exhibiting the art and crafts of the indigenous Huichol people. Dominating the exhibition are the extraordinary peyote inspired yarn paintings of the late Huichol artist and shaman José Benitez Sanchez. On the 24th of January, Professor Mara Alper, award winning media artist and documentary maker, will be giving a presentation at the Kampo Museum entitled “Visions of the Huichol”. She has been kind enough to grant me an email interview in advance of this event.

Mara Alper with Celia and Luis Ruiz family in San Andres. Photograph by Shauna Leff

DK: Could you give me a brief synopsis of your own story so far?

MA: Professionally, I’ve had a great career working in film and video for over 25 years. I started out as a film editor then learned to produce and direct videos. At the same time, I worked as a freelance writer and puppeteer and taught film, video and animation. Plus I love dancing and traveling. Since teaching video and animation in college full-time, I’ve focused on making video art and documentaries. An eclectic background all tied together by a devotion to motion!

DK: You have traveled all over the world. What first drew you to the Huichol in particular? Continue reading

An Interview with Sean Roe

The man behind JunKroom

I try to make it as varied as possible: a dancer, a musician, a band, a lot of duos and people who’ve never performed together, collaborations, visual arts, video… It’s collaborative performances I’m really keen on… I want to try to incorporate manzai as well! If I can get a comedian in, that would be great! I want to try to get a new genre of music called “noise manzai”!
(Sean Roe on JunKroom)

Sean Roe for Insights

Photograph courtesy of Sean Roe

Born in London and raised in South Africa Sean Roe has divided much of the last twenty years in either the UK or Japan pursuing his varied interests in art, ceramics, photography, film and music. Over the last 18 months he has been making his mark in Kyoto with JunKroom: a multidisciplinary event combining music, dance, video and other visual arts. Originally held literally above the junk room of a recycling shop, the event became popular and is now regularly held in the Kiyamachi club Urban Guild. Sean Roe himself is a one-man multidisciplinary event, combining within himself the roles of performance artist, DJ, photographer, teacher and organizer. I sat down with him one evening in Cafe Independants to talk about his life, about JunKroom and about his involvement with the awareness and fundraising group “For Gaza”. Continue reading

Ted Talks

Academic Beers with Ted Taylor

When you describe Kyoto, you couldn’t skip them; pure water, old wooden house in a row, and food culture. This is beer whose mother is the honorable tradition in Kyoto, and whose father is beer boasted of by Germany. A new historical chapter is recorded in our culture.
From the KANBAIKAN craft beer label.

A few months ago there was a big conference in England where all kinds of impressive people got together, and talked about impressive and inspiring things. If you go to the website TED TALKS you can take a look at some videos from the conference. They really are very impressive, but oddly there doesn’t seem to be anyone there whose name is actually Ted. Here on Deep Kyoto we can go one better, with our very own (and impressive) Ted Taylor. As I knew he was leaving at the end of summer (today actually), I decided to interview him before he left. So, one afternoon in July we took the JR line from Karasuma/Shijo up to Imadegawa, got out at exit 2 and there we were at Doshisha University’s Kanbaikan building.IMG_0966We’d been talking about coming here for some time because on the 7th floor of the Kanbaikan, there is a French restaurant called Second House Will that serves Doshisha’s very own craft beer; also called Kanbaikan. The Kanbaikan (寒梅館 which means Cold Plum Inn I guess) is an impressive red brick building with gorgeous views over the city and we enjoyed its namesake beer, also reddish brown in color, along with some crunchy French bread and a plate of tasty hors d’oeuvres. It was a very pleasant way to spend a summer afternoon and you can find a map here if you want to try it for yourself. However, as I knew Ted was leaving at the end of summer, I figured this was a good opportunity to chat with him about not just beer, but about zen, and hiking and writing and about his life in Japan and so on. You know; all things Ted. Continue reading