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  • Writer's pictureStone Bridge Press

Stories from 1970s Kyoto by former Studio Ghibli exec, Steve Alpert

Stone Bridge Press is thrilled to share that Kyoto Stories, former Studio Ghibli exec Steve Alpert's second book following protagonist Don Ascher's time rambling through the beauty and traditions of 1970s Kyoto is now available everywhere.



Don Ascher is a young American living in Kyoto in the 1970s. He is a student of Japanese. He also teaches English, works at a shabu-shabu restaurant, and hangs out in the company of gangsters, hostesses, housewives, tea teachers, and fellow foreigners.

Set amidst the timeless beauty of the ancient capital and its garish modern entertainments, this collection of fanciful episodes from Don’s life is a window into Japanese culture and a chronicle of romance and human connections.


Azby Brown is a leading authority on Japanese architecture, design, and environmentalism and the author of several groundbreaking books, including Small Spaces (1993), The Japanese Dream House (2001), The Very Small Home (2005), and The Genius of Japanese Carpentry (1989/2014). He is lead researcher for Safecast, a global citizen-science organization that pioneered crowdsourced environmental monitoring. Azby Brown has lived in Japan since 1985



The author has taken the experiences of one Don Ascher, an American living in Kyoto during the 1970s, and fashioned seven stories about one man’s initiation into Japanese life as it was lived at that time in the small spaces and around the corners of the culture. The stories are full of interesting historical and cultural detail, and well describe the complexities of being a foreigner in the days before Kyoto was an international tourist destination." —Rebecca Otowa, author of At Home in Japan "These engaging stories bring to life what it was like to be a gaijin in 1970s Kyoto. From the tea ceremony to hostess bars, the narrative entertains as much as it informs. All in all, a delightful collection with many memorable moments." John Dougill, founder of Writers in Kyoto and author of Kyoto: A Cultural and Literary History "Kyoto Stories is a subtle but sharply observed take on the “Japan journal” genre. By giving his characters space to speak, Alpert finds the human connection in even the most fish-out-of-water situations." —Matt Treyvaud, translator of Natsume Soseki's Ten Nights Dreaming "Playful, funny, intelligent, often nostalgic for people and places lost, Alpert is a true storyteller who carries readers through his collection with ease. These are some of the most honest and entertaining gaijin stories I’ve ever read.” David Joiner, author of Kanazawa "These are not your regular Kyoto Stories: Alpert's conversational style draws you into a Japan that tourists never see, a Japan that lifers know, a Japan that is, for better or worse, long gone. A compulsive read, with all the pleasure of drinking late with a natural born raconteur." Iain Maloney, author of The Only Gaijin in the Village



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