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.