KYOTO STUDENT SQUATTERS

Scenes from an organized student squat:


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Article: CNN Asia

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 3 Comments

About Jay Babcock

I am the co-founder and editor of Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curator of the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages, Grand Royal and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was one of five Angelenos listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. Today, I live a peaceful life in Tucson, Arizona with Stephanie Smith. https://linktr.ee/jaywbabcock

3 thoughts on “KYOTO STUDENT SQUATTERS

  1. Pingback: KYOTO STUDENT SQUATTERS – ARTHUR MAGAZINE « Kyoto Bookmarker

  2. Pingback: Kyoto’s student-run dormintory/squat | Technoccult

  3. Wow, thanks for this. My fiancee was a Kyoto University student about ten years ago, in the religion department. We went back to see the dorms about a year ago and were really happy to see that they’re still there. This is kind of like the heart of Kyoto, and a really special place.

    There are actually two buildings like this at the University, Kumano-ryo and Yoshida-ryo. Yoshida-ryo is a very strange place, and very Kyoto-from the outside the building looks like a shinto shrine, with a traditional building and a little grove of trees around it.

    A lot of the rooms in these buildings are communal, and the walls are very thin. This isn’t unusual for old Japanese housing-there is something called a Naga-ya which is about the same. But still, to do it in a dorm is kind of odd. The story is supposedly that it was a version of in loco parentis. The fear was that students (who at that point would have been overwhelmingly men) who became isolated might become psychologically unhinged. The concept of personal privacy wasn’t completely there in Japan when the dorms were built, and the idea that you would be surrounded by other people 24 hours a day wasn’t necessarily seen as a bad thing. There was also a German-style belief that young men getting an education would have this kind of natural fraternity with each other in service of higher ideals.

    In the sixties, this made the dorms political hotbeds-you know what everyone else is doing, and have social connections to them all the time. This dorm is still a little like that, since there is only one communal phone up at the front desk, and you have to flip over a little wooden card with your name on it when you leave or enter the building. If you’ve ever seen ‘Night and Fog in Japan,’ the Nagisa Oshima movie, there is a kind of reproduction of that lifestyle.

    A lot of the graffiti in the dorms-which you can see in one of the photos, says things like ‘revolution’ (革命)or ‘student autonomy.’ (学生自治)There isn’t as much politics as there used to be, of course, but there is still some. For example, students have put up refugees from Afghanistan and so on in the dorms and cared for them-this still goes on.

    Most student dorms are not like this in Japan any more-some universities, particularly in Tokyo actually went to the opposite extreme to divide up the students after the student movement, building big one-room dorms far, far away from campus, and even did things like making the shower and lights run off of prepaid keycards.

    In general, it’s not possible to squat in most cities in Japan (unlike Europe) and this place has been protected partially by the politics of the Kyoto city government, which tends to be left-wing/Communist Party, though the student politics was mostly opposed to them too…

    Anyway, great to see this.

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