#49 Another Kyoto: 9 Hidden Charms in Japan's Most Ancient City
Local Japan Podcast
by Local Japan Podcast
1M ago
Back in the days when I was dying a slow death of boredom by bureaucracy, I would find salvation in books. After a few days of falling down Wikipedia rabbit holes and practicing the hiragana and katakana alphabets over and over again, I had an idea, “Why don’t I email PDFs of books to myself?” And so began my adventures to distant worlds, straight from the metal desk of the damp middle school staff room. One of the books that completely enveloped me, and remains on the top of my all-time list of favorites, is The Lessons of History by Will Durant. On the death of civilization, he wrote: But do ..read more
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#48 Passive House Details You Should Know Before Renovating in Japan
Local Japan Podcast
by Local Japan Podcast
2M ago
The contract, payment, and legal documentation all went through successfully this month — officially making me a homeowner and landowner in Japan! Frankly, there is a good reason why I was able to acquire the property for the price that I did. It seems that the structure was hardly ever updated in its 100+ year life to meet modern standards of the day. To make matters more extreme, for the past 30 years, its previous owners left it abandoned to degrade into the mountainside. But no matter, this is precisely why I am here. I extend my deepest gratitude to Nishimura-san and the whole team at Nis ..read more
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#47 Greene, Wright, Huntington, and the Art of Japanese Architecture
Local Japan Podcast
by Local Japan Podcast
2M ago
Happy New Year everyone! In today’s episode, we are going to gain a great, fundamental understanding of not just Japanese architecture, but also Japanese history, religion, politics, and more — and how these many factors play into the built environment that constitutes the country today. The Art of Japanese Architecture written by David and Michiko Young will be our guide through Japan’s story of architecture. It begins with the ancient people who found their way to the archipelago from the continent. We learn about continental influences from Korea and China, and Japan’s patterns of isolation ..read more
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#46 Why Beauty Is Not In the Eye of the Beholder
Local Japan Podcast
by Local Japan Podcast
2M ago
I have a big announcement to make about the start of what we've all been waiting for. I found it fitting to revisit the foundations and ask myself why I am doing all this. Why am I trying to restore buildings that I think are beautiful? To help me through this question, I’ll be reading through a few sections of "Beauty: A Very Short Introduction" by Sir Roger Scruton. In short, Scruton argues that beauty is a moral endeavor. It is not up to subjective taste. Instead, beauty embodies both a rational and virtuous pursuit. I first came across the book in graduate school when I learned about Scrut ..read more
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#45 Create Streets: Building Better with Nicholas Boys Smith
Local Japan Podcast
by Local Japan Podcast and Nicholas Boys Smith
2M ago
Nicholas Boys Smith is the founder of Create Streets, a social enterprise based in London that works with neighborhoods, communities, landowners, councils, and developers across the United Kingdom. Its mission is to help create and manage beautiful places, defined by gentle density, stewardship of nature, and public well-being. Boys Smith is also the author of many books, including No Free Parking, a history of London’s streets, out now in paperback. It was a pleasure to speak with him, in no small part, because of his work as the co-chair of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission ..read more
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#44 The Genius of Japanese Carpentry
Local Japan Podcast
by Local Japan Podcast
2M ago
Born in the United States, Azby Brown is an architect and accomplished author of Japanese design and architecture who embarked on a transformative journey to Japan. He recalls his story in today’s book, The Genius of Japanese Carpentry: Secrets of an Ancient Craft. In this episode, I go through his writings about a traditional pagoda construction at Yakushiji Temple in Nara, which took place throughout the 1980s. We learn about the guidance Azby received under master carpenter Tsunekazu Nishioka during that time, as well as the ancient knowledge, wisdom, and way of life that Nishioka practiced ..read more
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#43 How to Find Value in Real Estate and Companies in Japan
Local Japan Podcast
by Local Japan Podcast and Rei Saito
2M ago
Today, I sit down with Rei Saito, the author of the Konichi Value newsletter. On Substack, Rei publishes insights into Japanese companies, real estate, and market trends with the goal of finding untapped value. With fluency in Japanese and English (and Swedish!), Rei has the added edge of being able to research Japanese news, reports, and sources. He brings this to you so that you may better understand the potential value that lies uncovered in the rising Japanese environment. We discuss Warren Buffet’s recent acquisition of several Japanese conglomerates, Japan’s low-interest rate environment ..read more
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#42 Why All Japanese Public Schools Look the Same
Local Japan Podcast
by Local Japan Podcast
2M ago
Today, I revisit a story that I wrote back in 2019 when I was still an English teacher in Kyoto. Disgruntled by the ugly school buildings that defined my day-to-day work life, I wanted to get to the bottom of the question: Why do all Japanese public schools look the same? I give a little backstory and read the script, which you can also follow along in full below (To see the photos, subscribe to the Local Japan email: The click-clack of wooden sandals rings through the bamboo grove as an elder Buddhist monk leads me to the remains of a Meiji Era elementary school. The school building has been ..read more
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#41 Principles From Japanese Country Style by Yoshihiro Takishita
Local Japan Podcast
by Local Japan Podcast
2M ago
I’m very excited this week to delve into "Japanese Country Style: Putting New Life Into Old Houses" by the legendary architect Yoshihiro Takishita. Hailing from Gifu Prefecture, Takishita's journey to becoming a legendary figure in minka restoration is truly self-made. Traveling the globe and mastering the English language as a young man, and returned to Japan and embarked on a path to become a self-taught architect and master carpenter. He has since relocated and restored over 30 kominka townhouses around the world. The book offers a rich exploration of the cultural significance of kominka. T ..read more
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#40 JapanCraft21 and the Revitalization of Artisan Master Crafts
Local Japan Podcast
by Local Japan Podcast
2M ago
I sit down with Steve Beimel, the visionary behind JapanCraft21, a non-profit organization committed to revitalizing dentou kougei, traditional Japanese master crafts. Steve is also the founder of Espirit Travel and Tours, a company that offers immersive cultural experiences in Japan. He is the publisher of the Kyoto Diary and serves as the editor-in-chief of livingartsjapan.com, a platform dedicated to promoting Japanese arts and crafts. In all, Steve is a passionate advocate for preserving traditional Japanese master crafts. During this episode, we delve into the rich history of Japanese art ..read more
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