Header image for Kitchen Arts and Kissa by Kissa

Kitchen Arts and Kissa by Kissa

Ridgeline Transmission 183


Ridgeline subscribers!

Hello from the village of Yasuhara on the western edge of Kōchi, a village filled with Kengo Kuma structures. I’m writing from the shoes-off Yasuhara Community Library, which is beautiful, as you can see above. Here’s my little workstation: 1

workstation in the yasuhara community library
Working at the Yasuhara Community Library

With the launch of TBOT in November, Kissa by Kissa received a bump of attention. Blackbird Spyplane put the two on their favorite book(s) of 2023 list. Along with that interest came some curious incoming missives, most notably from a small, Upper East Side independent bookshop called “Kitchen Arts & Letters.” A bookshop to which I have never been, but is now at the top of my Must-Visit list for a future NYC pop in. (Right around the corner from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.)

They ordered 50 copies of Kissa by Kissa (I offer bulk discounts; if you’re an indie bookshop wanting to carry my titles, just email me!), sold out of those almost immediately, and ordered 50 more. What a blast. They also asked me to do an interview for their blog / newsletter, for which I was delighted. Here’s the interview: “Craig Mod On Capturing Japan’s Vanishing Café Culture.”

The interview covers some of my bookmaking philosophy, and we get into a bit of the nitty-gritty around the different editions of Kissa. And of course food and culture: “Food encodes culture. And by eating and paying close attention, you can debug or decompile strands of culture that led to x or y ending up in your mouth.”

That’s it, just a quick and easy note about this interview. When I started Ridgeline (some five years ago now — OMFG), the intent was to keep these fairly short, but absolutely regular (weekly). I think I’ve painted myself into a corner of verbosity these past couple of years, and so the regularity has dropped. Anyway, a short newsletter is almost always better than a long one, and a short one is always better than none.

Thanks for reading and supporting my work and independent bookshops. If you swing by Kitchen Arts, take a pic, lemme know how it is! I’m now going to go order a coffee at the café downstairs (¥150 — $0.99 USD) and some cheesecake (¥200 — $1.32 USD) and luxuriate in this Kengo Kuma space a bit longer.


  1. Sitting here, writing, makes me realize how Tokyo has almost … no libraries that inspire me to go and sit and work? Am I missing something? Is there a British Museum Reading Room or NPYL Reading Room of Tokyo that has somehow flown under my radar all these years? My mental image of most Tokyo libraries is: drab, office-like spaces with terribly harsh lighting, dirty carpets, and few windows. ↩︎


Not subscribed to Ridgeline?
(A weekly letter on walking in Japan)