Kyoto Journal, Insights from Asia Review

It’s not often that I read an independent magazine that’s older than I am, so I was impressed to discover Kyoto Journal, a quarterly magazine based in Asia. Kyoto Journal was founded in 1987 and recently published its 92nd issue.

Interestingly, Kyoto Journal is a not for profit organisation that is driven entirely by volunteers from around the world. Perhaps this collaborative approach is why Kyoto Journal has survived for over 30 years and nearly 100 issues.

Kyoto Journal issue 92 I bow to the heart sutra

Why Kyoto?

I’ve not been to Kyoto and I know very little about Japanese culture, so reading Kyoto Journal was a fascinating insight into society, customs and experiences I’ve not encountered before. Devotion is the theme in issue 92. It is applied to religion and beliefs, but also to lifelong devotions to art, or, as in one story, unreciprocated devotion to a friend.

Kyoto Journal issue 92 strawberry honey blossom creme

Devotion in Asia

Moments of devotion are framed around Kyoto not just as a place, but as a measure of ‘deep spiritual and cultural heritage’. I had expected the magazine to feature the city of Kyoto heavily, but actually the stories, journalism and experiences were set in many places across Asia. From mandala drawings from Osaka-based artist, Minako Hiromi, to memoirs in 1960s India, Kyoto is only the framework for experiences from the entire continent.

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Kyoto Journal issue 92 Going Home

My favourite story was, ‘Going home,’ about a woman returning from Kyoto to her native Australia after 20 years. Her knowledge about Buddhist spirituality and rituals proves even more important in Australia than in Japan.

The collaboration in Kyoto Journal feels very real, rich and diverse. It’s brilliant to read contributions from so many people encountering Kyoto, whether as a location, or as a spiritual place. And it’s exciting to think that as long as the city exists the magazine could too.

I was sent Kyoto Journal issue 92 free of charge from the editor in order to review it. However, the opinions expressed in this review are independent and my own.