You have some amazing contributors. How have you managed to develop such great relationships – all of them volunteer – and who are some of the more notable writers/photographers/artists who have helped make KJ what it is today?
KR: The fact that it is a non-profit, volunteer production definitely helps. People know that our heart is in it, and perhaps feel that they are part of something bigger than the sum of its parts. We have been honored by submissions of original pieces by many noted writers, including Pico Iyer, Gary Snyder, Nanao Sakaki, Vandana Shiva, Donald Richie, Barry Lopez, Satish Kumar, Buddhist essayist David Loy, the Tale of Genji translator Royall Tyler and Pillow Book translator Meredith McKinney — to name just a few — and a host of lesser-known but no less interesting and thought-provoking talents.
And we find that if we send sample copies to people like Noam Chomsky, Peter Matthiessen, or Pavan Sukhdev, they are happy to allow us to reprint extracts from their works.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
What are some of the more noteworthy stories or special issues you’ve published over the years, of which you’re particularly proud — a good solid starter list for those new to KJ?
JE: I am probably most proud of our 50th issue on Transience and our last print issue, KJ 75, on biodiversity — we handed out some 800 copies for free to international delegates who had come to Nagoya for the UN COP-10 Conference on the Preservation of Biodiversity in 2010. It has an excellent section on Japanese satoyama (the border zone where flat arable land meets mountain foothills). And our two interview issues of Kyoto people, numbers 16 and 70, gave unique insights into our “home town.”
KR: Our special issues do provide a good window on what we do. Last year we published Fresh Currents, a 168-page analysis of what went wrong in Japan’s nuclear power industry, and the present potential for Japan to switch to fully sustainable energy sources. We don’t limit our scope to Kyoto or Japan — we are interested in what we loosely term “insights from Asia.”
KJ 74 was focused on the Silk Roads, connecting with Nara’s 1400th anniversary. KJ 72 dealt with Japan’s anti-war constitutional Article 9, and why it is still important. KJ 69 was a guest-edited and designed special on tea; 64 was our popular Gender in Asia issue; KJ 60 was focused entirely on Korea; KJ 46 was our Media in Asia issue. I particularly enjoyed putting together KJ 37, Inaka, on the Japanese countryside, and 24, on Sacred Mountains of Asia.
You’ve recently made the transition to the all-digital publishing mode. What was it like and what have you lost/gained in the process?
JE: We have gained a bigger audience that has a shorter attention span, and lost paper, which appeals to people with a longer attention span. We had a very good working relationship with our printer that enabled us to really fine-tune our print issues. But now we have a great opportunity to start over, and we are consciously not trying to replicate the old paradigm in this new medium. However, we have limited resources and time and find it difficult to design for all of the different species of platforms and devices. We are keeping it simple until we figure this out. But it is hard to keep up…