Working

Writer Hannah Kirshner on Japanese Artisans and Immersive Reporting

 “It’s not very verbal. You’re meant to just watch the master.”

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Episode Notes

This week, host June Thomas talks to Hannah Kirshner, author of Water, Wood, and Wild Things: Learning Craft and Cultivation in a Japanese Mountain Town. In the interview, Hannah explains how her original plan to write a cookbook turned into an immersive reporting experience, where she practiced and documented multiple artisanal disciplines, like sake brewing and wood turning. She also discusses what it was like to be an outsider navigating the norms of rural Japan.

After the interview, June and co-host Karen Han talk about the difference between appreciation and appropriation when reporting on a culture different from one’s own.

In the exclusive Slate Plus segment, Hannah talks in greater detail about working at a sake brewery. Then she explains the care and discipline that goes into growing rice.

Send your questions about creativity and any other feedback to working@slate.com or give us a call at (304) 933-9675.

Podcast production by Cameron Drews

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Slate interviews Americans about their jobs.

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  • June Thomas is senior managing producer of Slate podcasts.