Chīori: Talk by Alex Kerr



Iya Valley, a secluded mountainous region in Tokushima Prefecture is often referred to as Togenkyō (lit. utopia) thanks to its dramatic landscapes and lush nature, which boasts precipitous gorges and hundreds of old thatched houses perched on its hillsides.

In this event, Japan House London dedicates an evening to explore regional revitalization and preservation of cultural traditions which have been carried over throughout centuries to the present day.

With contributions from members of Tokushima Prefecture and author Alex Kerr, this panel discussion chaired by Japan House London Programming Director Simon Wright discusses various aspects of culture in Tokushima, such as the awa-odori dance, and investigates Alex Kerr’s approach towards the renovation of Chīori (‘House of the Flute’), a wooden house with thatched roof, to help preserve the local lifestyle and the hundreds of kominka (lit. ‘old house’) in the area.

The book ‘Lost Japan’ by Alex Kerr will be available to purchase in The Shop at the Ground Floor on the day. Guests who purchase the book in The Shop have the opportunity to have their copy signed by the author during the drinks reception following this event, which features a selection of sake from Tokushima Prefecture.

About the Speaker

Alex Kerr came to Yokohama with his family as a child in 1964 and has lived in Kameoka (near Kyoto) since 1977. Alex writes in both English and Japanese, and is author of numerous books on Japan, including Lost Japan (1993), Dogs and Demons (2001), Nippon Keikanron ‘Theory of Japanese Landscape’ (2014), Another Kyoto (2016) and Kanko Bokokuron (2019).

In addition to his involvement in Japanese arts in Kyoto, Alex worked as Japan representative of American real estate developer Trammell Crow in the 1980s. He is known for his work on restoration of old houses, having restored over forty houses in towns around Japan. Alex speaks to groups across Japan about ways to revive their local economies by preserving cultural heritage and developing sustainable tourism.

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