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The Significance of Community Activities and Learning Practices of a Zine Circle in the Gathering Place of Diverse Minority Movements: A Case Study of a Multiethnic/Multicultural Area in Kyoto

[Symposium Presentation]
Murakami, Kiyoshi村上 潔
September 9, 2022

last update: 20220910


◆Murakami, Kiyoshi, 2022, "[Presentation] The Significance of Community Activities and Learning Practices of a Zine Circle in the Gathering Place of Diverse Minority Movements: A Case Study of a Multiethnic/Multicultural Area in Kyoto"
September 9, 2022 (Friday) 10:00-11:30 BST via Zoom
《Zines ASSEMBLE》Free One-Day Online Symposium: Session 1 【Program】


The title of my presentation is "The Significance of Community Activities and Learning Practices of a Zine Circle in the Gathering Place of Diverse Minority Movements: A Case Study of a Multiethnic/Multicultural Area in Kyoto". The subject is "East Nine Zine Circle". ENZC is the project that was launched in July 2018 and is still active. The circle's base of operations is located at Higashi-Kujo, in the southern part of Kyoto City. Historically, Higashi-Kujo has been a residential area for Korean residents in Japan, but in recent years, the area has seen an influx of other multinational immigrants, as well as a youth-led labor movement and a disability movement. In other words, this area has become an attractive place of diversity and strength, where various minority groups coexist ― and sometimes collaborate ― in their activities. This new form of autonomous community building is a notable example not only in Kyoto, but also in Japan. Based on this background, ENZC attempts to create cultural expressions unique to this area through zines. I have been cooperating with this activity not as an organizer, but as a guest lecturer and facilitator. I would like to report on what I noticed and what I thought was important. The key points are listed below. (1) In the activities, ENZC focuses on having the Asian perspective in the overall zine scene. (2) Each participating member is aware of the relationship with Higashi-Kujo, (3) The circle activities are conducted with an awareness of the linkage with various other community activities, so that those are not limited to creating zines, but are actively engaged in learning activities that address the issues of the area. I would like to introduce these points in detail on the day.
(June 30, 2022)



Murakami, Kiyoshi
Researcher ― based in Kyoto and Kobe, Japan
Areas of Expertise: (1) Contemporary Women's Movement History, (2) Minority-Led Labour Movements, (3) Reproductive Labour and Housewives, (4) Feminist Zines, (5) Archiving of Local Women's Activity Records.
Co-organizer and Facilitator of Morning Zine Circle (Since 2016 / at Nijo, Kyoto)


I am very happy to have the opportunity to present at this wonderful symposium.
Throughout this short presentation, I hope to show you all the specifics a small zine community in Kyoto (Japan) with which you may not be familiar.


** As well as after the presentation has been completed, additions and corrections are made as necessary. **

It is necessary to examine how zine culture is rooted in the community and contributes to the empowerment of minorities. This is particularly important in cases where there is a combination of Ethnicity, Gender and Ablism factors. Cases in which zine culture embodies its essential role in real communities are valuable.
The setting for this report is the area of Higashi-Kujo in the southern part of Kyoto City. Higashi-Kujo is known as one of the leading Zainichi Korean (Korean people living in Japan) residential area in the Kansai region (region consisting of Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto and surrounding prefectures). The Area is within walking distance of Kyoto Station on the Shinkansen bullet train.
【Link: Higashi-Kujo Area (Google Map) *This map shows the rough extent of the Higashi Kujo area.】
In recent years, there has been an influx of people with foreign roots other than Korean, and various administrative and autonomous initiatives have been actively undertaken as a model area for other ethnic groups and multicultural conviviality.
【Link: Kyoto City Multicultural Exchange Network Salon】
East Nine Zine Circle (Hereafter denoted as ENZC) was born here, Higashi-Kujo. The origin of the name is quite simple. 'East' is the Japanese word for 'Higashi", 'Nine' is also 'Kujo' ('Kujo' is a Japanese word meaning 'Ninth').
Though, ENZC did not originate from ethnic communities. It has its origins in the labour movement of young non-regular workers.
Union Bochi Bochi (official name: the Kansai Non-Regular Workers' Trade Union) is a trade union formed in November 2005 and based in Higashi-Kujo. The union was formed mainly by postgraduate students, postdocs, part-time university lecturers, care workers and various activists (Anti-war movement / Antidiscrimination movement), but later included people from diverse backgrounds, such as welfare recipients, people with mental disabilities and queer activists.
【Link: Union Bochi Bochi】
ENZC was founded in 2018 by one of the members of this union, Shinichi Takahashi. Takahashi was also a staff member of the Japan Centre for Independent Living (JCIL) ― a self-help/self-organized organisation for people with severe disabilities, also based in Higashi-Kujo ― and was seeking combined practices of labour movement, disability movement and multiethnic movement.
【Link: JCIL】
ENZC's first planned project was a philosophy café (an event where people discuss philosophy in a relaxed environment over coffee or tea). However, at the same time, Takahashi also planned a zine-making workshop, with the latter event taking place first.
The venue was Books×Coffee Sol., a café in Higashi-Kujo that serves Korean homemade meals and also functions as a community space. Sol. has a large number of books on ethnology and sociology permanently available for anyone to pick up and read. Reading groups and meetings about the community activities are also held there, and children do their homework there after school. The woman who runs Sol. is a core member of the organising committee of the Higashi-Kujo Madang ('Madang' is a large-scale ethnic event held annually in Koreantown. Korean traditional dance and other performing arts are performed. 'Madang' means 'Plaza' in Korean).
【Link: Sol.】
【Link: Higashi-Kujo Madang】
The first zine-making workshop took place in July 2018. Takahashi asked Kiyoshi Murakami (yes, it is me) to facilitate this workshop, and Murakami became involved with ENZC from there. Takahashi had been interested in zine culture for some time before that, having read what Murakami had written. Incidentally, Takahashi and Murakami were old acquaintances, having worked together in the union. Takahashi organised this event with the aim of setting up a place for participants, mainly members of Union Bochi Bochi, to learn about zine culture and practise zine-making.

◆[Workshop]"East Nine Zine Circle #01" ★【Link】
July 28, 2018 (Saturday) 13:00-15:00 at Books×Coffee Sol. (Kyoto, Japan)
*Guest Facilitator: Murakami, Kiyoshi
◇Flyer Image ★【Link】
◇Run sheet of the workshop (by Kiyoshi Murakami) ★【Link】
◇Safer Space Policy of the workshop (by Kiyoshi Murakami) ★【Link】

The first workshop had seven participants and produced seven pieces of work. After Murakami gave an overview of zine culture and a Q&A session, everyone made one zine each. About half of the participants had made a zine for the first time and the other half had have experience of making zine. Finally, everyone took the completed zines in turns to read them to each other and share their thoughts. Two aspects existed in this first workshop: the cultural activitiy of the members of the union and the cultural practice in the Higashi-Kujo community. The two sides seemed to merge well. Takahashi seemed to realise the potential of zine-making workshop through this experience.
【Link: Event report and photographs of the works】
The second circle took place two months later, in September 2018. This circle set the theme of "Let's connect with the Asian zine scene". This shows that Takahashi is trying to develop ENZC's activities with an awareness of the Asian unit. In other words, the inevitability of developing this activity in Higashi-Kujo became apparent here.

◆[Workshop]"East Nine Zine Circle #02" ★【Link】
September 22, 2018 (Saturday) 14:00-16:00 at Books×Coffee Sol. (Kyoto, Japan)
*Guest Facilitator: Murakami, Kiyoshi
◇"What I Refered to in East Nine Zine Circle #02" (by Kiyoshi Murakami) ★【Link】

Five adults and three children participated in the second session. In the first half, Murakami introduced the Asian zine scene using various documents, while in the second half, all participants discussed future circle activities. After discussion, a plan was raised to create a compilation zine at the circle and send it to an infoshop in South Korea for placement. In other words, at this stage, the ENZC's target range jumped over Kyoto and connected to South Korea. ★【Link: Event report】
Since then, ENZC has not held any events, but has been persistently producing a compilation zine, with members changing. Currently, the main members working with Takahashi on the zine are a woman with intellectual disabilities who have roots in Higashi-Kujo and a JCIL staff member who is a wheelchair user. According to Takahashi, this zine will be a 'picture book zine' and the publication is imminent. ★【Link: Report on the production process】
In this way, ENZC provides a space for various minorities and activists to express themselves while encompassing aspects of the labour movement, disability movement and community activism, based in the multiethnic/multicultural area of Higashi-Kujo. I believe that we can find here the function as a nodal point for people with diverse attributes to connect, in a complex and intersectional manner. While ENZC aims to persevere in its small but grassroots activities, they hopes to build a bridge between the Higashi-Kujo and Asia in the future. I think that ENZC has the potential to make a (small) contribution to the solidarity of Asian counter culture.
In addition, there is one important issue. A wave of gentrification has swept through Higashi-Kujo in recent years. ENZC has taken a head-on approach to this issue and has organised several events to think about how to deal with it. ★【Link: Event (1)】【Link: Event (1): Document by Kiyoshi Murakami】【Link: Event (2)】【Link: Photo documentation initiatives】
ENZC has a significant role to play in Higashi-Kujo, both as a cultural practice and as a community activity. I will continue to pay attention to how they respond to the transformation of the area and how they contribute to the empowerment of diverse minorities. And I would like to be actively involved in the development of ENZC myself. I would like to have the opportunity to introduce ENZC again.

*Duration of presentation: 20 minutes


◇Baker, Sarah and Zelmarie Cantillon, 2022, "Zines as Community Archive", Archival Science, March 10, 2022, doi: 10.1007/s10502-022-09388-1.
◇Kauffman, Rhonda (Chair); Murakami, Kiyoshi; Jones, Marya Errin; Zehdar, Ziba Perez, 2020, "[International Panel Discussion] Zine Libraries and Zine Librarianship", Zine Librarians unConference (ZLuC), July 22, 2020, (http://www.zinelibraries.info/wiki/izld-2020-online-event-notes-and-recordings/zine-libraries-and-zine-librarianship-panel/).
◇Murakami, Kiyoshi, 2016a, "Thinking about Feminist Zines Now", Ars Vivendi, 9: 188-194. (Special Feature 3: The Present of Feminist Zines)
◇Murakami, Kiyoshi, 2016b, "Report: Asian Zinester Asylum (September 13, 2016 / Shinjuku, Tokyo)", arsvi.com, September 23, 2016, (http://www.arsvi.com/2010/20160923mk.htm).
◇Murakami, Kiyoshi, 2018, "Connecting with Asian Zine Scene: What I Refered to in East Nine Zine Circle #02", arsvi.com, September 22, 2018, (http://www.arsvi.com/2010/20180922mk.htm).
◇Murakami, Kiyoshi, 2022, "The Current Development of Zine Culture and Its Significance: Viewed from the Perspective of Feminist Community Activism", Ritsumeikan Studies in Language and Culture, 33(3): 39-51. (February 28, 2022 / International Institute of Language and Culture Studies, Ritsumeikan University)
◇Nishiyama, Atsuko (DIRTY) and Kiyoshi Murakami, 2016, "To Make Use of Zine as 'Our' Property: An Approach to Feminist Zines and that Potential Possibilities" (Interview Article), Ars Vivendi, 9: 196-226. (Special Feature 3: The Present of Feminist Zines)
◇Takahashi, Shinichi, 2018a, "第一回EAST NINE ZINE CIRCLE終了", East Nine Zine Circle, July 28, 2018, (https://shinichimtk.wixsite.com/mysite/post/%E7%AC%AC%E4%B8%80%E5%9B%9Eeast-nine-zine-circle%E7%B5%82%E4%BA%86).
◇Takahashi, Shinichi, 2018b, "第二回EAST NINE ZINE CIRCLE終了", East Nine Zine Circle, September 23, 2018, (https://shinichimtk.wixsite.com/mysite/post/%E7%AC%AC%E4%BA%8C%E5%9B%9Eeast-nine-zine-circle%E7%B5%82%E4%BA%86).
◇Yamaguchi, Kenichi, 2018, "Multicultural Convivial Practices in a Zainichi Korean Ethnic Festival: The 'Politics of Existence' Strategy Observed at Higashi-Kujo Madang", Japanese Sociological Review, 69(1): 37-55, doi: 10.4057/jsr.69.37.

■Q & A

“This sounds like a great project! How were the zines distributed in Kyoto and do you know what the reception was like?”
Thank you for your question.
The zines made at the first workshop were not collectively duplicated.
I believe each person who made their personal zines made copies of the original version and distributed them to people close to them.
I distributed copies through the zine circle I run (=Morning Zine Circle).

“Thank you Kiyoshi for your interesting presentation! You mentioned that in the second workshop, there was a mix of adults and children participating - I wonder if you had any thoughts or reflections on how that mix influenced the running of the workshop, the things that were created, etc?”
Thank you for your question.
I couldn't mention it in my presentation, but I think it is a very important point of view.
As I remember, at the second Circle, the structure for doing zine-making with children was not sufficiently established in advance, so it was decided that "zine-making should be done another time". There was also a suggestion that it would be nice if we could do a workshop with children only, but this has not materialised. This will be an issue for the future. Incidentally, in the zine circle I run (=Morning Zine Circle), adults and children have worked together. More precisely, the procedure was that the adults provided minimal assistance to the children in their making process.

■A Comment Received on Padlet

◇“Kiyoshi mentions gentrification. I think there is a lot to unpack: zine making collectives often are set up to capture marginalised voices. On the other hand, they are sometimes bound up in the 'gentrification through artification' if that makes sense. Gallery & events spaces are often at the forefront of gentrification.”(https://padlet.com/lilithjoycecooper/zinesassemble/wish/2289415914)

■Mentions on Twitter

◇Kirsty Fife (@DIYarchivist) [2022-09-09-10:15] ★【Link】
◇Kirsty Fife (@DIYarchivist) [2022-09-09-10:26] ★【Link】

■Acknowledgment: After the Presentation

Fortunately, the presentation was well received.
I am grateful that I was able to give a presentation in this valuable symposium which was filled with enriching content.
I am also happy that I was able to deliver an example of an unknown activity ― and its significance and potential ― in a corner of Japan to zinesters, distros, zine librarians and researchers from all over the world.
I send my utmost thanks to the audience and the organisers.
(September 10, 2022 / Kiyoshi Murakami)

*Author:Murakami, Kiyoshi村上 潔
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