Sept 4, 2021: The third edition is finishing production and hitting our distribution center in the next week or so. We hope to offer the third edition up for sale by the end of September. Sign up to be notified of release.
Kissa by Kissa: How to Walk Japan (Book One)'s first edition (2020) of 1,000 copies sold out in two days (!) in August, 2020. The second edition (2020) sold out in about six months. This third edition (2021) is being upgraded in a number of ways: from printing resolution (much higher) to binding (swiss-style binding; layflat opening).
Note: Although this is a limited run, the third edition is not signed or explicitly editioned (with a numbered stamp).
Third Edition Notes
This third edition is (as you'd hope!) the most refined edition yet. Still limited to 1,000 copies, we have moved to top-tier Heidelberg presses, printing with the famed Matsumoto-based Fujiwara Printing. The detail and "quality of light" in the photos feels roughly double that of previous editions.
This edition is also hand bound, book by book, by the incredible Mochizuki Bindery in Kagurazaka, Tokyo. Because of our (annoyingly; sorry binder folks) precise specifications, the only way to reliably bind our book with a 1mm edge was by hand. The folks at Mochizuki produced two jigs specifically for this edition. The result is a flexi-swiss bound book, wrapped in cloth with a silk-screened cover, and debossed back.
Here is the swiss-style binding, where only the back half of the body block is glued to the boards; this allows for significantly better lay-flat opening:
Durability is not effected by swiss binding; we upgraded our endpapers to a higher weight to compensate for the (slight) additional load. This new edition looks and feels fantastic. Thanks to the work of Fujiwara Printing and Mochizuki binding, it's a true collectable.
About the Book
Kissa by Kissa is a book about walking 1,000+km of the countryside of Japan along the ancient Nakasendō highway, the culture of toast (toast!), and mid-twentieth century Japanese cafés called kissaten.
Details about the 3rd edition (2021) physical object:
- limited to 1,000 copies
- swiss-style cloth-bound, flexible hardcover (0.7mm boards)
- grey ink silk screened cover & spine
- blind deboss on back
- fine-art archival matte Japanese body papers (Araveal White, 110kg)
- 170mm x 240mm (~B5 size)
- 128 pages
- 19 essays / short stories
- 40 photographs
- printed and bound in Japan
The walk of this book begins in the city of Kamakura, just south of Tokyo. From there we head to Tokyo, and then from Tokyo all the way to Kyoto via the old Nakasendō highway, snaking through Saitama, over to Nagano, down through the bucolic Kiso Valley along the Kiso-ji road, into the plains of Gifu, alongside Lake Biwa, and to Kyoto. Along the way we meet farmers, gardeners, and a host of incredible and inspiring café owners.
Kissa by Kissa is not a guide.
You can think of it like a film. At a leisurely pace, Kissa by Kissa takes about ninety minutes to read. It’s designed to reward multiple readings and be a book you return to over time. It is linear, but doesn't need to be read linearly.
It sits somewhere between travelogue, photo book, and bizarro ethnographic field study of old café — kissaten — culture.
Those kissaten — or kissa — served up toast. I ate that toast. So. Much. Toast. Much of it pizza toast. If you buy this book, you'll learn more than you ever dared to know about this variety of toast available all across Japan. It's a classic post-war food staple. Kissa by kissa, and slice by thick slice of beautiful, white toast, I took a heckuva affecting and long walk. This book is my sharing with you, of that walk, the people I met along the way, and the food I ate.
To give you a sense of the distance covered, here's the spread in the book with the map of the walk:
Kissa by Kissa's cover illustration was drawn by the great Luis Mendo. The illustration is silkscreened onto the cloth.
From the box it ships in, to the thread the signatures are woven with, everything is made, assembled, and produced in Japan. This book was touched by — and helped employ — several dozen folks with sustainable and humane salaries, across a number of industries — from paper making, to box making, to printing and binding.
Here are some shots of the first edition out in the wild, sent in by customers:
Here are some pictures of our test prints on uncut sheets checking photo exposure and edits and reproduction qualities on a selection of fine papers:
- Pachinko Road
- A Food for Children
- Kissa & Shōwa
- Ozu’s Geometry
- Pizza Toast & Būgen
- Sofa Chairs
- Shutter Towns
- Coffee Tickets
- City of Toast
- Canadian Coffee House
- Photo Index
- Interview with Sean McDonald
- Copyright & Colophon
Craig Mod is a writer and photographer who has been based in Japan for the majority of the past twenty years. His book Koya Bound (2016) is an award winning (AIGA 50 Books / 50 Covers) book about the Kumano Kodo UNESCO pilgrimage path in Wakayama, Japan. Over the past seven years he's walked some 2,500km across the country and eaten several hundred slices of toast, pizza and plain alike. His writing has appeared in publications including Eater, Wired, The New Yorker, California Sunday Magazine, and others. His weekly newsletter on walking in Japan, Ridgeline, is read by over 6,000 people.