Kyoto Geisha Tour
Dusk over Gion
Gavin received a Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and came to Kyoto in 2001 to take his current position as a tenured university professor of history, religious studies, and American Studies. Since 2016, he is also a Fellow at Harvard's Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies. His teaching and research revolve around Japan's cultural encounters with the West, particularly during the Edo, Meiji, Taisho and early Showa periods (1600-1940), and he has published on the history of foreign tourism and of Protestant missionaries in Japan. To further explore Japan's global cultural encounters, he is currently writing a book on the history of Japanese menswear from the 1600s through the early 20th century. He is also an expert on Kyoto geisha culture and a frequent participant in geisha entertainment. He enjoys reading, spending time with his family, and exploring with clients Kyoto's endlessly fascinating culture and history.
John was born in 1952, in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. At Carleton College (Northfield, Minnesota) he majored in English and German literatures, graduating in 1974. An offer to teach English for Panasonic brought him to Kansai, where he settled in Kyoto in 1977. Soon after arriving, he started studying Japanese at the Kyoto Nihongo Gakko, and, in 1979, he took up Nihon Buyo (classical Japanese dance) under the tutelage of WAKAYAGI Kimiha. (Kimiha-sensei died in 2015, and in 2019, John resumed his dance study with WAKAYAGI Shuho.) In addition to dancing, writing and editing have also kept him busy. For three years he served as editor of the “Kyoto Visitor’s Guide”. As a freelance writer, he has contributed articles to The Japan Times, Asahi Evening News, and the Japan National Tourist Organization’s website. He also authored the Kyoto chapter of EYEWITNESS: JAPAN (Eyewitness Travel Guides, Dorling Kindersley publisher, 2000). Interests include sumie, Kyoto food culture, the Thai language, and travel (especially to Southeast Asia). Although happily mired in the Kyoto milieu, he is grateful that Osaka is only a 45-minute train ride away.
Marcin is a scholar and a part-time lecturer at Kyoto University. He specializes in Japanese folklore, History of Kyoto, History of Japanese culture and Japanese religions. The big theme of his research is "How did Japan create the traditional image it is know for?". Marcin is currently in the middle of a very slow and painful process of writing his Ph.D. thesis at Kyoto University, where he also got his Master's degree. His future Ph.D. is focusing on the traditional depictions of Japanese otherworld and usage of these traditional motifs in present-day Japanese culture and Kyoto tourism. Marcin also has a Master's degree in Japanese studies from Warsaw University, Poland. In Poland he published a book "Kaidan - Strange Tales of Edo period" (2011) in which he introduces Japanese ghosts, demons and goblins in 17th- &18th-century Japan. He also co-wrote "The Culture of Heian Imperial Court" (2008) about Japanese culture in the 9th and 10th Centuries. Marcin has a wide knowledge of Japan, starting from its history, folklore and religion, through its politics and post-war society, but also has an interest in its more recent pop culture and media. In his spare time, he enjoys walking through Kyoto’s streets, rediscovering its secrets and searching for delicious local treats. He also enjoys riding his Kawasaki motorcycle, seeking more remote and hidden places. Marcin has lived in Kyoto for 14 years and is working for Context since 2016.
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