⟨ Book ⟩

Above the clouds

The kindness of Kitakyushu

Text and Photography / Ron Lam
Translation / Iris Heung

雖然非生於日本,也不是居住在北九州市,然而,翻開《雲のうえ》(中譯:雲的上方)時,卻莫名奇妙地感受到懷鄉之情。

《雲のうえ》是北九州市振興局出版的旅遊雜誌,相對於一般同類型的雜誌,《雲のうえ》沒有密密麻麻的情報,取而代之的是一篇篇當地人深入採訪,作者們滿載了回憶的散文。旅遊情報誌大多是多姿多彩、目不暇給的版面,《雲のうえ》卻是溫暖而安靜的、緩慢的。

例如,第22期的《雲のうえ》以烏冬為主題,引言的散文裡,記載了為北九州市中小學校提供麵食的琴平屋的故事,沒有描寫麵食的味美,但寫了現任店主的母親曾為經營麵店而經歷過的勞苦,以及她未圓的心願等。跟專題裡一篇篇的店家訪問同樣,都流露出濃郁的人情味。北九州市希望這人情味能吸引到觀光客,同時也能勾起年青人在這城市定居的興趣。他們大概深深明白,在這個時代裡,能讓人心安定的,不再是經濟成果,而是自在安穩的生活方式、被此守護的鄰里關係。

順帶一提,《雲のうえ》的美術總監,正是《暮らしの手帖》(中譯:生活手帖)、《Ku:nel》及《つるとはな》(中譯:鶴與花)的有山達也。說到此,你大概不會奇怪,何以這本免費刊物,有著如此動人的溫度。

As a person who was not born in Japan or reside in Kitakyushu, Above the Clouds magazine strangely makes me feel nostalgic.

Above the Clouds is a publication by the tourism board of Kitakyushu. Compared to similar magazines, Above the Clouds does not have a layout packed with information. The main content is, instead, filled with in-depth interviews with the locals and articles of some personal experiences. While most of the local guides or travel magazines are overwhelmed with information and colorful photos, Above the Clouds is calm and heartfelt.

For instance, Issue 22 of Above the Clouds is all about udon. The short prologue is a story of KOTOHIRAYA, the shop which provides noodles to primary and secondary schools in Kitakyushu. Instead of praising the tasty noodles, the story narrates the hardship the owner’s mother endured when running the shop, as well as the ambition she has yet to achieve. Other articles in the issue are interviews that demonstrate a great sense of human touch. Kitakyushu hopes to use this as an attraction to tourists while arousing the interest of the younger generation to reside in the city. The magazine understands what people look for in a happy life is no longer related to economic success but having a stable life with a friendly and supportive community.

Another thing worths mentioning about Above the Clouds is their art director. Tatsuya Ariyama is also the art director of Handbook of Living Ku:nel, and Cranes and Flowers. Knowing this, you would not be surprised to see how soothing it is to read this free publication.