Musings from Kyoto Japan, mostly on Mushrooms, Food, Travel and the like


Invitation to Contributors for Kyoto Journal 82 – the Food Issue


As many of you already know, I am the Guest Editor for the upcoming Kyoto Journal Issue, ‘Food’. Here is the gist of our invitation letter. Enjoy, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you think that you – or someone you know – might be interested in submitting. Bon apetit! (PS, that’s not the actual cover, although I rather like it – Natto in my genkan).

We sincerely hope that you find some personal interest in this, our new project.
We’re very eager to hear suggestions and ideas for content for this issue.
And if you know anyone else who may also be interested, please do pass this on to them…



 “Some dishes seem to be charged with a psychic energy, a mana which makes them attract attention, generate interest, stimulate debate, inspire controversy and debates about authenticity. The same is true of certain artists” – John Lanchester, ‘The Gourmet’

 “A great dish is the master achievement of countless generations” – Curnonsky

 “The universe is nothing without the things that live in it, and everything that lives eats” – Brillat-Savarin

 “Much of the pleasure of food is a flirtation with decay” – Sean French, “First Catch Your Puffin”

We adore it, we abhor it, we need it, we leave it. Without it, we exist not. Food pervades every area of our thought and existence. Food allows us to live, when we are privileged enough to have it. It sustains us. It inspires us. It enslaves us. It educates us. It may kill us. It allows us to communicate with the Gods.

Your food is not mine, nor mine is yours, but we may share it, and in so doing, what joy. The sloth and the wolf eat, but only humans dine. Sometimes upon each other. There are rules for what we eat, and how. There are those who tell us what we should ingest. There are those who say we are what we eat. There are those who say we eat what we are.

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 simultaneouslyuniversal 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!

—KJ 82 Guest Editor, John Ashburne


Kyoto Journal is a long-established non-profit, all-volunteer-based digital quarterly. Contributors receive a complimentary subscription, worldwide readership, and our deepest appreciation!

See also KJ 71, our wide-ranging special issue on Tea, guest-edited by Gaetano Kazuo Maeda: