Craig Mod is a writer and creative person who's lived in Japan for a long time. I subscribe to his excellent podcasts (On Margins, about making books, and SW945, 15 minutes of binaural audio recorded wherever Craig happens to be at 09:45am) and newsletters (Roden, about writing, photography, books, and travel, and Ridgeline, about walking, Japan, literature, and photography).
Craig recently published a photoessay book about walking to cafes in rural Japan called Kissa by Kissa. The first edition of 1,000 copies sold out immediately, so he recently printed a second edition.
From his website:
Kissa by Kissa is a book about walking 1,000+km of the countryside of Japan along the ancient Nakasendō highway, the culture of toast (toast!), and mid-twentieth century Japanese cafés called kissaten.
Details about the 2nd edition physical object:
– limited to 1,200 copies
– cloth-bound, flexible hardcover (0.7mm boards)
– grey ink silk screened cover & spine
– blind deboss on back
– fine-art archival matte Japanese body papers (Araveal White, 110kg)
– 170mm x 240mm (~B5 size)
– 128 pages
– 19 essays / short stories
– 40 photographs
– printed and bound in Japan
The walk of this book begins in the city of Kamakura, just south of Tokyo. From there we head to Tokyo, and then from Tokyo all the way to Kyoto via the old Nakasendō highway, snaking through Saitama, over to Nagano, down through the bucolic Kiso Valley along the Kiso-ji road, into the plains of Gifu, alongside Lake Biwa, and to Kyoto. Along the way we meet farmers, gardeners, and a host of incredible and inspiring café owners.
Kissa by Kissa is not a guide.
You can think of it like a film. At a leisurely pace, Kissa by Kissa takes about ninety minutes to read. It's designed to reward multiple readings and be a book you return to over time. It is linear, but doesn't need to be read linearly.
It sits somewhere between travelogue, photo book, and bizarro ethnographic field study of old café — kissaten — culture.
Those kissaten — or kissa — served up toast. I ate that toast. So. Much. Toast. Much of it pizza toast. If you buy this book, you'll learn more than you ever dared to know about this variety of toast available all across Japan. It's a classic post-war food staple. Kissa by kissa, and slice by thick slice of beautiful, white toast, I took a heckuva affecting and long walk. This book is my sharing with you, of that walk, the people I met along the way, and the food I ate.