Kyotographie 2016 – Masterclass & Tour

Kyotographie is Kyoto’s annual international photography festival, this year being held at various venues around the city from April 23rd Sat to May 22nd. In addition to the regular exhibitions and events, this year there will also be a tour and a masterclass. Find out more below!

Shinichi Suzuki II, Tea Ceremony, 1880’s © MNAAG.

Shinichi Suzuki II, Tea Ceremony, 1880’s © MNAAG.

Kyotographie Tour

This full day tour costs 7,000 yen.

“For its fourth edition, April 23rd – May 22nd, 2016 KYOTOGRAPHIE International Photography Festival returns with 14 exhibitions, in 15 venues with two associated programs. These major exhibiting artists are presented inside historical buildings (Old tea houses, tradtional artisan buildings, temples and garden). This year theme is « CIRCLE OF LIFE ». The Festival, with more than 60,000 visitors last year, is now considered a major international artistic event in Asia, gathering both photography lovers, professionals and the general public. We offer you an intimate chance to discover a selection of KYOTOGRAPHIE exhibitions. The KYOTOGRAPHIE passport (included in the visit fee) gives you access to all the exhibitions.”

To find out more about the tour please visit the Japan Experience website.

Kyotographie Masterclass: DREAMS TO REALITY
With Arno Rafael Minkkinen

Fosters Pond, 1989 ©Arno Rafael Minkkinen courtesy PUG OSLO

Fosters Pond, 1989 ©Arno Rafael Minkkinen courtesy PUG OSLO

“Improve or find your personal visual language and style. Developing a personal & recognisable style is key to photographic practice, it also allows a photographer to change subject matter, maintaining identity.
Arno Rafael Minkkinen is a Finnish-­‐American photographer, educator, curator, and writer with over 100 solo shows and nearly 200 group exhibitions in galleries and museums worldwide.”

Date : April 23rd 10:00-12:00*
25th, 26th 9:00-17:00
Fee : 20,000JPY (tax inclusive)
Venue : Ryosokuin (Kenninji Temple)
Language : English with Japanese translation
Inquiries :

For application details please visit this page:

To find out more about the various exhibitions and events, you can visit the official website or download a presskit.

WiK Writing Competition Winners

Here’s some news from John Dougill, and Writers in Kyoto (WiK):


The judges of the first WiK Writing Competition are delighted to announce the winners, as listed below. The competition was on the theme of Kyoto, with a maximum of 300 words. Each of the three prize winners will receive a small gift from the Kyoto Convention and Visitors Bureau, in addition to which the First Prize will feature in the forthcoming Writers in Kyoto Anthology. The Local Prize Winner will receive a gourmet meal for two at Tadg’s Irish Bar and Restaurant in Kiyamachi, Kyoto.

* First Prize “Kimono Memories”
Name: Peter Jonathan Mallett

* Second Prize “Nippon”
Name: Jesse Efron

* Third Prize “To live in Kyoto”
Name: Richard Steiner

* Local Prize Winner “In the spring. summer, autumn and winter – Colors in Kyoto”
Name: Mayumi Kawaharada

The judges wish to express their appreciation to all those who entered, and the high quality of submissions made the final decision difficult. Indeed, each of the judges chose a different piece as their favourite! In the end though consensus was reached as to the outstanding pieces. (It should be noted that the judging process was done on a completely anonymous basis throughout.)
The entries came from a surprisingly wide range of places. Nearly half were submitted from different parts of Japan, not just within Kyoto but such areas as Miyazaki and Fukuoka. Others came Malaysia, Kathmandu, Philippines and Montreal. As it happened, however, the winners are all resident in Japan – two in Kyoto, one in Kyotango, and one in Kobe.

In form the entries ranged from a single haiku to essays, pieces of fiction, poems, conversations and personal impressions. By and large, the prose was more successful; some of the poetry was too slight, some too obscure. The best pieces were those that got under the skin of Kyoto life, and this was the case with the overall winner which used the Nishijin connection with kimono to reveal something of the secrets that lie behind the courtesies of Kyoto manners.

The one surprise was that some applicants thought a single haiku would carry enough weight to win a prize. Unless you’re a Basho or a Buson, this seems improbable. However, one of the prizewinners did string a series of haiku together to convey images of Kyoto throughout the year, and this amounted to a substantial and impressive portrayal of seasonal changes. An alternative approach, which no one attempted, would be to write a poetic essay-cum-haiku in a genre known as haibun.

Our thanks to the sponsors, the Kyoto Convention and Visitors Bureau, Tadg’s Irish Bar and Restaurant, and for the backing from the International Community Center (kokoka). I’d also like to publicly thank Karen Tawarayama in particular for facilitating the whole process, as well as Tadg McLoughlin and Shigenori Shibata for acting as judges. Finally, thanks to all those who took the time to enter the competition. Your entries made the whole thing worthwhile, and each one was appreciated.

We are eager to build on this year and make next year’s competition even better, so if you have any suggestions or feel you could contribute in any way, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me, John Dougill, at dougill<at mark>

Peter Mallett of Kobe, whose 'Kimono Memories' took first prize

Peter Mallett of Kobe, whose ‘Kimono Memories’ took first prize

Miksang Contemplative Photography; Kyoto Workshop: May 4th – 15th 2016

Thanks to Lisa Allen for sharing the following course information:


Photo by Julie DuBose

Kyoto Journal and The Miksang Institute are co-hosting a special ten-day intensive Miksang Contemplative Photography workshop in Kyoto from May 4-15, 2016.

The course will be taught by teachers, Michael Wood and Julie DuBose, and will include the first three levels in the Miksang training curriculum: Opening the Good Eye, Making Contact, and The Heart Of Perception.

Instruction will be in English with Japanese translation. Cost for the entire 10-day course is $1000 USD. The workshop will be held at Kyoto International Community House. This special workshop will begin Wednesday evening, May 4th and end at 5:00pm on May 15th, 2016. Monday May 9th will be a day off.

For more information, please email:

For more workshop details and registration information:

What is Miksang?

Miksang is a form of contemplative photography that asks us to see our world in a new way. In some ways it seems very simple, but it is not always easy.

If we can place our mind’s attention, our awareness, in our sense of sight, we will see vivid, mind stopping perceptions fully and completely, without distraction. And when that happens, we can connect with what we see deeply and intimately.

This requires stillness of mind, patience, and the desire to really see what is there, so that we can understand how to express what we are seeing with our camera simply and precisely.

Miksang is photography in which we use the camera to express our visual perceptions exactly as we experience them. Because we know how to prepare ourselves to receive perceptions when we see them, and we know how to understand exactly what we have seen, we then know exactly how to express what we have seen with our camera. The resulting image is an exact expression of our eye, mind, and heart as it connects with the perception.

Miksang means ‘Good Eye’ in Tibetan. We all have a Good Eye as part of our human makeup. This means we have the ability to see the world in a pure way, without overlays of meaning and value, pleasure, dislike, or disinterest.

When we can see with our Good Eye, the world is always fresh, because everything we see is as for the first time. There is no memory, no association, only the world manifesting to us, as it is, out of nowhere.

These perceptions are vibrant and vivid, pulsating with life. The visual world is our feast, our playground.

Seeing in this way brings us joy in being alive.

Through our images we can express our experience of seeing. Our photographs will carry within them our heart, our mind, the blood of our experience.

Geiko & Maiko of Kyoto by Robert van Koesveld now on sale at Maruzen Bookstore

Last week I was very happy to catch up with photographer Robert van Koesveld while he was in town. Robert was kind enough to give me a copy of his new book, “Geiko & Maiko of Kyoto” which he self-published after an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign.


If you are at all interested in the world of geiko and maiko then I would happily recommend this book. Robert’s beautiful photography and insightful text provides a wonderful pictorial guide to the world of Kyoto’s geisha. And I particularly like the part of the book that also introduces those people who work behind the scenes; the footwear makers for instance, the kimono artists, and the shamisen teacher etc…

Robert and his book in Maruzen bookstore.

Robert and his book in Maruzen bookstore.

Pop into Maruzen bookstore in Kyoto now, and you will see a large display of Robert’s books close by the Maruzen Cafe. Several of his images are also featured on posters there, to give you an idea of the contents of the book. Take a look. I’m sure you’ll be tempted.

Useful links: Geiko & Maiko of Kyoto
Robert van Koesveld Photography
(always) Learning to See: A photography blog by Robert van Koesveld

Another Night of Japanese Sake and Cuisine – Sponsored by Takara Shuzo

Here’s some news from Chris Malcolm about the next Takara Shuzo sake tasting event. These events are extremely enjoyable and educational too. Apply quickly though, as seats are limited and places get booked up quick! All queries should be directed to the email address given below.

sake night 1


Takara Shuzo, based in Kyoto and one of Japan’s leading sake and shochu producers, is looking for non-Japanese participants for a fun and informative night of Japanese food and sake at a beautiful Kyoto-style town home in Higashiyama, Kyoto. This cultural event will be hosted in English by international staff from Takara Shuzo, and attendees will have a chance to taste and learn about 9 premium sake, including several daiginjo varieties, while enjoying a full meal*. Before dinner, the staff will give a short seminar on sake and a guided tasting. In addition to the meal, participants will receive a bottle of Mio Sparkling Sake at the end in exchange for their cooperation in filling out a couple of short surveys.

*Please inform us of any dietary concerns at the time of your application.


500 yen. This includes a full meal, and sampling of 9 premium sake.


Friday, March 11 from 6:30pm (doors open at 6:15) until 8:30pm.


The event is limited to 16 non-Japanese guests.

Application Method:

・Simply send a message with your name in an Email titled ‘Sake Tasting’ to If you wish to invite friends, please include their names in the Email as well.

Application deadline: Wed. March 9, 2016 at 5:00pm.

・All applicants will be notified by email with the result of their application.

・Participants will be determined via their applications on a first come, first serve basis.

・If we have reached capacity at the time of your application, we will add you to a waitlist and contact you if there are any cancellations, or for the next edition of this event.


5 min from Higashiyama Station on Kyoto’s Tozai subway line. Participants will be given specific location details, and event and contact information via email once their participation is confirmed.

* Participants are not to drive to the event by car, motorcycle or bicycle, as alcoholic beverages will be served and we do not have available parking facilities.


・Any information collected via Email from attendees will be used solely for the organization of this event or future editions of the same event for applicants unable to attend due to overcapacity.

・Takara Shuzo does not sell, trade, or rent your personal information to others.

・All guests must be at least 20 years old.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Takara Guest House-1

Utagawa Hiroshige’s Journey – 53 Stations of the Tōkaidō Exhibition at Museum “Eki” Kyoto

If you haven’t see it yet, the exhibition of ukiyo-e woodblock prints by Utagawa Hiroshige now on at the Museum “Eki” Kyoto is really well worth a visit.


During the Edo period, the Tōkaidō was a major land route between Edo (now Tokyo) and Kyoto. The name Tōkaidō means “East Sea Road” because the route mostly followed the coastline, and so there were many well known scenic spots along the way. Utagawa Hiroshige created his 53 Stations of the Tōkaidō print series after traveling this route in 1832, and it quickly became a bestseller. In this exhibition, prints from the original first Hōeidō edition of the series are displayed alongside later editions so that you can see the alterations that Hiroshige made to the pictures over time. All 53 stations are included in this exhibition.


Museum “Eki” Kyoto often has excellent shows, which are very well presented and organized and this is no exception. For each picture there is English information alongside the Japanese, that is extremely informative and really helps to explain exactly what you are looking at, the interactions between the characters depicted and where they are. Viewing the prints like this, in order, with such detailed and fascinating explanations really is like taking a little trip back in time. Mewby and I were both thoroughly absorbed and really enjoyed this show.


There were also some kimono and a light yukata on display that bore gorgeous designs, taken from Hiroshige’s famous prints.


歌川広重の旅 or Utagawa Hiroshige’s Journey continues at Museum “Eki” Kyoto until March 27th 2016. Museum “Eki” Kyoto is located on the 7th floor of Isetan department store in the Kyoto Station building. Entry is 900 yen.


Butoh Dance at the Kyoto Experiment 2016 Fringe Festival

A message from our friend Bridget Scott:

This March sees Kyoto Experiment 2016, the first time to hold this international performing arts festival in spring as well as autumn. From 5th March to 27th March there will be live performances of theatre, music and dance at venues all over Kyoto. For details check the website:

Here, I’d like to introduce some butoh and butoh related performances that are part of Kyoto Experiment 2016 Fringe Festival hosted by Kyoto’s avant grade performance space, Urbanguild.


Saturday 5th March will be a big night for butoh fans. “Takasago Butoh Cooperation 15th Anniversary Carnival” will present 12 butoh dancers young and old from near and far corners of Japan: Kansai, Hyogo, Gifu, Tohoku and Kyushu. There will be live music including saxophone, shamisen, didjeridoo, sittar, percussion and voice. All the performers have collaborated with Takasago Butoh Cooperation over the last 15 years. Kiyoko Yamamoto, the organizer from Takasago, is a veteran butoh performer active in the anti nuclear movement. The evening will be constructed in the form of a non stop dance relay. It will be a rare chance to see a gathering of butoh dancers from local parts of Japan. What kind of butoh will emerge?

Note, to regular Urbanguild punters:

This performance begins at 18:30, one hour earlier than usual nights.

Tickets are ¥1,800 in advance and ¥2,000 on the door, including one drink.

Facebook link:


“BRDG 5th Anniversary” is a celebration of BRGD theatre group on Wednesday 16th March from 19:30. The directors are Keiko Yamaguchi and Kano Kawanabe, Keiko is a butoh dancer and actress who creates theatre pieces about foreigners living in Kyoto. The evening will include a bilingual theatre piece as well as dance, live music, theatre skits and a unique food menu.

Tickets are ¥2,000 in advance and ¥2,500 on the door, including one drink.

Facebook link:

The next two nights 17th and 18th March, “Senryusha Mimihime Kitchen” fresh from a successful sellout show in New York. The main performer is Chisato Seino, a senryu(a 17 syllable satirical poem) poet and butoh dancer. The whole evening of butoh is based around Seino’s live writing and reciting of her poems. Butoh dancers appearing are from New York, Beijing, Shanghai and Kyoto’s very own Butoh master, Katsura Kan. Musicians include, Urbanguild’s Ryotaro Sudo on accordion and electronics, Junryo Oishi on synthesizer and Masahiko Todoriki tuva chanting and traditional music and Ryota Tanaka on percussion.

Starts at 19:30

Tickets are ¥2,500 including one drink.

A guaranteed unique evening, not to be missed.

On Friday 25th March “Kan Katsura x Sanae Kuroko What is Dance? The Silence starts to talk—Listen with the body” is a showing as a result of 4 days of workshops exploring the process of making dance.

This workshop is open for anyone with an interest in questioning what is dance and how to make a performance. It is guided by Katsura Kan, Kyoto’s born and bred butoh master, Kuroko Sanae, a contemporary dancer and Keiko Yamaguchi, actor, butoh dancer and theatre director.

The workshop will be in English and Japanese.

For more information on the workshop see the Facebook page

The showing will start at 19:30.

Tickets are ¥2,500 including one drink.

There is one more butoh event I’d like to mention, not held at Urbanguild but at the classic old theatre, Gojo Kabarenjo, on Sunday March 20th at 15:00 and 19:00 and Monday March 21st at 15:00.

Ima Tenko’s Butoh Company Kiraza in “Robe of Dreams”. It is the group’s annual performance held at this old traditional theatre. Always a spectacular event!

For more information:

So, this March in Kyoto, stop looking at those screens, get out and enjoy the visceral experience of live, raw performance!

Wacky Racers on Kyoto Station’s Grand Staircase!

Every year on the third Saturday in February a racing event is held at Kyoto Station’s Grand Staircase (or “Daikaidan”). Contestants take part in teams of 4 and attempt to cover the 30 meter 171 step climb with the best time. This event has been held since 1998, shortly after the station building was first opened, and has become a popular local event as well as Kyoto Station’s very own harbinger of spring.


Last Saturday, Mewby and I went to see this event for the first time, and what a lot of fun it was to watch! It was pouring with rain throughout, so teams of cleaners were constantly sweeping water off the steps to help stop the contestants slipping. I’m not sure how many people participated this year, but I think at least 80 teams competed in this event. Running up 171 steps is no small feat and a lot of runners collapsed in a panting heap when they got to the top.


The best fun though, was watching the contestants who chose to race in costume. Here, for example, is a Heian era aristocrat:


And here is a princess:



This next chap is the Cho Hakkai pig character from the popular story Saiyuki or Journey to the West. You can see a clown in the background too.


And this fellow? Well this fellow is a hero.



For the most part the costumed contestants seemed more concerned with having a laugh and putting on a show than in trying to get the best time. They would stop and wave to the crowd, pose for photographs and in the case of the princesses, perform a lot of curtsies, all the way up the steps. When the last members of the hero team was running, his team mates suddenly joined him to cheer him on for the final spurt of the course!




By far the best entertainment was from the samurai team though, who literally performed a series of running battles up the stairs.










Even though the weather was wet and miserable, the good humored runners definitely brought smiles to the faces of the onlookers. We’ll be back to watch again next year!

Charity Auction for NICCO at Kyoto Isetan; February 20th – 22nd

The following message was sent in by Akiko Yoshida of the Kyoto based NGO NICCO and all queries should be addressed to her at the contact address given below.

The 26th Charity Auction for NICCO:
“Exhibition of Finearts” in Kyoto
February 20th – 22nd at JR KYOTO ISETAN
(Open Event)

nicco charity auction

The 26th Charity Auction for NICCO will be held at JR KYOTO ISETAN during the period of February 20th to 22nd, 2016. All of its proceeds will be donated to NICCO, Kyoto-based humanitarian organization, for its projects in and outside of Japan such as support activities for victims of the tsunami in Tohoku and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. By either bidding for or purchasing these works, visitors can contribute to humanitarian projects for people living in developing countries and disaster affected areas.

The Event
To support our overseas projects, we hold an event which is called “Charity Auction for NICCO-Exhibition of Artifacts-” for our fund raising. The exhibition has been held every year in one of the famous department stores in Kyoto City since 1991. This event is supported by a variety of artists such as ceramic artists, Japanese-style painters, masters of tea ceremony and calligraphers. These include Kyoto-based creators like Mr. Brian Williams and Mr. Randy Channell. These supporters contribute by donating their works freely as charity. The total number of works of art will be over 200. People can appreciate and obtain these works at a relatively reasonable price by participating in the auction. All the profits – except for necessary expenses – will be donated to NICCO.

Dates and Time:
February 20th (Fri) to 22nd (Mon), 2016
Venue: JR KYOTO ISETAN, 10th floor (JR Kyoto Station Complex)
Admission: Free
Organizer: “Charity Auction for NICCO” Executive Committee

Charity Auction for NICCO

Nippon International Cooperation for Community Development (NICCO) is a Japanese non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to supporting self-reliance among people in developing countries in Asia, the Middle-East and Africa. Since its establishment in the early days of Japanese NGOs in 1979, NICCO has focused on emergency assistance and human resource development, as well as rural development based on environmentally sustainable agriculture.

Akiko Yoshida, Charity Auction for NICCO Executive Committee
Tel: +81-75-241-0674
E-mail: info[at]
Address: 101 Nishi Rokkaku-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, Japan 604-8217

Pictures from Enso Watt & Instant Eternity!

2016-01-24 21.47.59

Enso Watt performed Sanka’s 5th Season Ritual at Urbanguild on Sunday night and as always it was a fantastic show. If you are not familiar with what they do, it is a choreographed multi-media extravaganza, of experimental music, pre-recorded soundscapes, live video, art, poetry, heaps of talent, color, and a whole lot of enthusiasm. All of it conducted by classical composer/conductor Yannick Paget, and inspired by the poetry of Chris Mosdell. Sometimes when they are all playing and the lyrics are bubbling from Chris Mosdell’s mouth, I feel like they are just happily playing, that I don’t need to take it so seriously, just go along for the ride. But by the time we got to the 3rd act on Sunday night, I was thoroughly sucked in by the poet’s words, swept up by the music, and Yannick’s pounding drums… enthralled, enthused, moved and inspired.

2016-01-24 21.48.28
“We are elementary,” said the poet, “awakening from a phantasmagorical sleep… We have lived everywhere…”

2016-01-24 20.55.47
Words and music, light and sound were bringing us back to our first beginnings, and to our essential unity: “We have learnt to dissolve in all directions, to transfer identities.”

2016-01-24 20.55.55
“We are an ancient race with an essential innocence, with virginity in our veins–”

2016-01-24 21.48.08

Imagine that; a creed underlying culture that celebrated our essential innocence, rather than the dead weight of original sin.

2016-01-24 22.29.54
I was intoxicated by the energy of this performance. My mind was taking the poet’s lyrics and spinning new mythologies, new litanies of healing, multiplying through “dimensions, strata, levels, layers…”  I imagined the Sanka Rites poured into the common consciousness, overwhelming  terror and trauma, washing away tired philosophies of division and denial! How splendid to be “charged with renegade magic”, to celebrate and build rather than fight and destroy!

2016-01-24 22.32.34

Thoughts like these went through my mind at Sanka’s 5th Ritual.

Many thanks to all the participants in Sunday night’s show. There really is nothing else like the raw mix of talent and adventurous spirit that makes up the Enso Watt collective.

2016-01-24 23.11.34
But will they play again, I wonder? After Eternity, what next?

ensō watt are
{soundscape, spatialization}
Samuel André (aka ieva)

{composer, conductor, percussionist}
Yannick Paget

Chris Mosdell

{piano }
江南泰佐 Taisuke Enami

{accordeon synth}

岡田康孝 Okada Yasutaka

{guest : trumpet}
Christopher Fryman

{live video mapping}
Andy Couzens & Masato Tokumaru

Hirisha Metha

noriyuki yoshimura

See also: Images from Sanka’s Winter Ritual