Category Archives: Kyoto Journal

Christine Flint Sato Sumi Workbook Review in Kyoto Journal #81

sumi workbook coverThe latest issue of Kyoto Journal includes my review of Christine Flint Sato’s Sumi Workbook.

Christine Flint Sato’s Sumi Workbook presents a complete introductory course for amateur or professional artists who would like to try the traditional brushed ink arts of East Asia. Sumi, a black ink made of soot and animal glue, is the essential medium for the arts of calligraphy and ink painting, and, Sato warns, it is “essentially unpredictable.” Even professional sumi artists who have trained for years, do not expect complete control over their materials. So much depends on the thickness or dilution of the ink, the type of brush used, the quality and absorbency of the paper, and of course there is always an element of chance. You never know for sure what you are going to affect. Rather than being a source frustration, however, Sato tells us that this tension between chance and design is a source of endless fascination and “delight, as unexpected effects abound.” We are encouraged to think of the sumi artist’s concentrated response to this moment-by-moment unpredictability as a form of playful meditation, a liberating discipline.

You can read the rest of this review online here: The Unexpected Delights of Brushed Black Ink. The Sumi Workbook is available from or you can order it directly from Christine via her website:

Kyoto Journal #81: Sustained Engagement is now available for download. Here’s a prelude:

KJ81Autumn is nearly over—luminous morning mists highlight Kyoto’s eastern hills, tawny hues flare and burn out on the slopes of Mt Hiei, reminding us again of the insubstantiality of day-to-day life. At the core, what lasts? Only sustained, gathered engagement, commitment to strongly-held objectives, carrying us through successions of seasons into the long haul of decades and beyond…

Among articles in KJ 81 we present stories of people whose commitment is manifested in long-term concerns, projects involving sustained incremental effort, where progress is measured not in hours or days or weeks but in years, even lifetimes, among those privileged to find such purpose and the means to fulfill it.

You can read more about Kyoto Journal #81 and  download it here:

A Call for Submissions for Kyoto Journal 82 – the Food Issue

John Ashburne
, who has written an excellent piece on walking the Nishiki food market for our Deep Kyoto: Walks book, will be guest editing the long-awaited FOOD issue of Kyoto Journal. This from his blog:

…Few remain silent on Food. And why would one? What a natural topic for discussion, discourse, eulogy, outrage, comedy, reflection, prayer, ire, poetry, love. Food defies time. It exists in the memory and the here and now. It is simultaneously universal and particular, literal and metaphoric, indelibly bound with meaning on an infinite variety of levels. Yet let’s not forget, it is also life-affirming, edible, incredible fun, a celebration of life itself. And so many of its greatest exponents and proponents live here in Asia.

For all of the above reasons, we look forward with great anticipation to Kyoto Journal’s 82nd issue, due out in winter 2014 — our long-awaited special on Food. We seek tales, observations, musings: a sumptuous buffet of interesting, unusual ideas on Asian-related food and food lore. Coffee-table tomes already exist on everything from kaiseki menu planning to dining preferences amongst the headhunters of Borneo …so we are not looking for more of the same, including recipes or restaurant reviews. What we arehoping for is a balance of the personal and the profound, articles that mix wit, gravitas, novelty and spontaneity that will surprise and delight even the most jaded reader’s palate. Let us know what you’d like to cook up for what will surely be a memorable KJ feast! (Link to full article)

—KJ 82 Guest Editor, John Ashburne


About John Ashburne:
John A
John writes on Japan, and in particular on its Food Culture, for a host of publications including the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, the Japan Times, etc. He is guest editor for the Winter 2014 Kyoto Journal special issue, ‘Food’. He has lived in Japan for 27 years, and calls Kyoto home. His hobby is extracting ‘dashi’ from a variety of seaweeds, fishes and certain mystical mushrooms that you’ll only find growing half way up a mountain in Gunma.

John is also a Deep Kyoto Walker.

To learn more please visit John Ashburne’s blog:

Barry Lancet + KJ Pot-luck Party @ Kyoto HUB on December 15th

Japantown_cover_Lancet_3.22.13From John Einarsen,

Join Kyoto Journal, Japan Insider and novelist, Barry Lancet, at The
Kyoto HUB for a fun evening of nerdy book exchange followed by our
festive end-of-the-year party. Continue reading

Fresh Currents Publication Party @ Tadg’s this Sunday (November 11th)

Want to meet the people behind Fresh Currents? Enjoy some tasty craft beers AND have a chat about renewables with the folks from Kyoto Journal?  Publication party at Tadg’s this Sunday from 8pm!

To find Tadg’s walk straight up Kiyamachi from Sanjo, before you get to Oike you should see the Empire building on your right. Tadg’s is on the 8th floor. Click here for a most convenient map.

See also:
The Fresh Currents website:
Fresh Currents on Twitter!/FreshCurrents
Fresh Currents on Facebook:
& Fresh Currents Daily News:


Did I mention that there are perks for contributing to the Fresh Currents campaign fund?

There are perks for contributing to the Fresh Currents campaign fund.

For a $10 donation – you get your name on the Fresh Currents website, our undying gratitude & an enormous feeling of wellbeing.

For $25 – all of the above & your name listed in the book + a free digital issue of Kyoto Journal #76 (currently unavailable by any other means!)

For $50 – all of the above + a free digital subscription to Kyoto Journal issues #76 – 80

For $100 – all of the above + a free digital edition of Fresh Currents

For $300 – all of the above + a gorgeous etching by the esteemed landscape artist Brian Williams (he’s very good)

Millennial Tree by Brian Williams

For $500 – all of the above + LIFETIME DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTION to Kyoto Journal!!!

So there you have it! At the time of writing there are just 28 hours remaining in which to claim these goodies, so click here, throw some cash our way and oh yes, help save the planet while you’re at it!

Here’s the link:

See also:
Fresh Currents ~ An Investment in Our Shared Energy Future
Green Action’s Aileen Mioko Smith Confronts METI Minister Yukio Edano
Ohi Nuclear Power Plant ~ Why We Should Be Worried…
PM Noda Defies Massive Public Opposition to OK Restart of Ohi Reactors / Expert Warns of Active Faults Under Ohi Nuclear Plant


Artwork by Tiery Le…

Just two days left on the Fresh Currents appeal and we are still $1880 short of our goal! Can we reach it? Yes! But only with your help! Click here to invest in a renewable energy future:

Why donate? Let’s take a look at some comments from those who have donated so far.

I totally agree with alternative energy! It’s a disgrace that it hasn’t been initiated already.

For a green revoloution and making this planet a Garden Eden for everybody to enjoy.

Kyoto Journal is doing an amazing job. Thanks for being a part of helping Japan, the environment and our fragile planet.

Thank you Kyoto Journal for your work. This is exactly what we need. You give me hope for the future!

Japan should be leading the way in alternative forms of energy.

Amazing job guys!! Inspiring.

Let’s get it done. Continue reading

Fresh Currents

Today I bring you news of a Kyoto Journal project I have been involved in for over 12 months now. Please help spread the word about our fundraising campaign and help us build a sustainable future!

Japan’s Flow from a Nuclear Past to a Renewable Future

More than a year after the triple meltdown at Fukushima, Japan and the rest of the world continue to grapple with the short- and long-term consequences. The myth that nuclear power can deliver us from the long-term evils of fossil fuels has been shattered. Renewable energy, long dismissed as impractical, is being given serious reconsideration. Japan can and must take advantage of this opportunity to rethink and refocus its energy strategies.

In Kyoto, birthplace of the Kyoto Protocol, a dedicated group of reporters, writers, artists, editors, and photographers associated with Kyoto Journal ( is taking a fresh look at proven and innovative alternative technologies such as solar, wind, geothermal, mini-hydro, and biomass as well as the even greater number that are being actively researched, but are insufficiently recognized and under-funded.

Continue reading

Three Wise Men

Left to right, the artist Brian Williams, Kyoto Journal's associate editor Stewart Wachs, & Eric Johnston of the Japan Times.

I can’t tell you what we were plotting together last night – not just yet – but I can say that you couldn’t ask for more stimulating company or conversation. And the restaurant, Istanbul Saray, was wonderful too, with absolutely gorgeous Turkish food, wine and beer! I shall definitely be going back there with Mewby and giving you a proper report in the future!

John Brandi & Renée Gregorio – The Shorter Poems

Renée Gregorio & John Brandi

Last weekend I attended a Kyoto Journal sponsored poetry reading with John Brandi and Renée Gregorio. It was a super cosy affair in the wonderful Kyoto Nama Chocolate organic teahouse, with lots of good conversation and poetic inspiration! Many thanks also to the hosts for the fantastic cakes and chocolate! Stewart Wachs promises to have a full video of the event (including Preston Houser‘s soul cleansing shakuhachi performance) up online at a later date. Until then however, here’s a short taster from the end of the event – the shorter poems. My apologies for the sound quality. I’ve no idea what happened there…

My apologies also for not getting this up sooner – I left my camera at the venue! Many thanks to Stewart for getting it back to me!

COP10 – History is Made!

Kyoto Journal contributor W. David Kubiak says…

This picture from AP via Click on picture for full article.

I imagine many of you have already heard, but COP10 managed a partial birth at 1:30 AM last night (Friday). Short of perfection no doubt, but the oceans were big winners with a new protected zone target of 10% and traditional knowledge getting formal recognition and a promise of biopiracy compensatory rights… …the fact this didn’t turn into COP10enhagen as many had feared is a major relief, and something to build upon for everyone. Congrats to the KJ crew for furnishing the most appreciated and talked about handout at this fest.

And John Einarsen (of whom there was a very nice profile in the Japan Times the other day) adds…

Dear KJ Biodiversity Contributors:

Congratulations to all of you! At 1:30 this morning, October 30th, some 190 governments proved they can work together on tough issues and succeed by agreeing upon a much-needed plan for the preservation of the biodiversity of our planet.

We wish to sincerely thank you for your creative participation in Kyoto Journal’s special issue on biodiversity, which we hope contributed to the positive outcome of the conference. Over a period of two weeks, twelve KJ volunteers, at their own expense and time, traveled to Nagoya and handed out some 800 issues of our KJ issue 75 to delegates, media participants and NGOs at the conference site.

Issues also were hand-delivered to Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity; Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, Matsumoto Ryu, Minister of the Environment of Japan; and even film actor Harrison Ford, long-serving Vice Chairman of Conservation International. The issue was extremely well received and stood out among all of the other print media present.

For more information on the historic conference agreement, please read Winifred Bird’s excellent summation at Earth Island Journal.

To follow the the ups and downs of the conference we recommend articles by Japan Time journalists Eric Johnston and Setsuko Kamiya:

Again, we wish to thank you for sending us your inspiring ideas and voices. They helped make a difference!

W. David Kubiak has also sent on the following links:

NYT’s COP10 summary at this link.
A nice interview with Harrison Ford by CNN on the COP, conservation, Conservation International, and the need for ratification, as well has his minor side career in film (video version).
Also, Conservation International’s press release on Harrison’s call for CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity) progress, with a good ratification plug at end.

Kyoto Journal #75: “Biodiversity” – Essential Reading for COP10
The People I Met at COP10