Reprinted from "The Death and Rebirth of Kyoto"
Kyoto Journal's "1200th Anniversary Issue"

Your Virtual Mayor Reporting
On the 1200th Tao
The Great Kyoto Vision Quest

By W. David Kubiak
Okagesama de [daily Japan-speak for 'thanks to your fat shadow], Kyoto citizens in their inscrutable wisdom swept this humble servant to virtual power in the August mayoral election last year. As the only candidate speaking to the burnt-out, fed-up and un-amused, we garnered a handsome 60% plurality courtesy of the town's hyphenated non-voting majority, not to mention the 4,800 weird and valiant gestures from those who actually cast (alas, invalid) votes our way.

Though oft slovenly dubbed the Ijin Legion, our party's proud legal name is the 'Nancho Ijin Butai' - Ijin meaning 'different people,' Butai, a 'corps' or 'stage,' and Nancho ('Southern Court") from a Taoist imperial line that briefly liberated Kyoto from the military-industrial complex of the 14th century. To better grasp our platform and staggering popularity, please refer to our official Statement of Purpose as filed with Kyoto's Prefectural Election Commission, 4/l/93.

In essence, the Nancho Ijin Butai is a resolutely disorganized aggregation of citizens soliciting and promoting innovative, individualistic and unauthorized strategies to:

  1. Protect Kyoto's children, environment and cultural heritage by direct democratic empowerment of Japanese citizens.
    Necessitating immediate introduction or reinstatement of: effective freedom of information; community media; initiatives/referenda; jury trials; and local control (of schools, police, airwaves, etc.);

  2. Employ new media technologies to heighten local and foreign awareness that the political impotence of Japanese citizens is now a global problem with grave implications for the environment human rights and economic well-being around the world;

  3. Increase foreign support for local citizen groups struggling to democratize Japanese society and combat the vast corporate bodies now ruling the nation and trashing the planet;

  4. Awaken public opinion to the political / cultural / evolutionary dangers of corporate anthroculture (psychosomatic retardation of human individuals for 'harmonious' incorporation), by showing how the estrogenic effects of 'examination hell,' social stress and soy food diets systematically suppress male hormones here, making Japanese corporate workers:
    • more docile, child-like and efficient;
    • less able or willing to stand up for their rights, families and communities; and thus
    • averse to active, adult participation in democratic civil society.

Such were and remain our solemn election vows, but as you are aware, virtual and Taoist leaders do not order society with force, fiat or legislation, but rather with sway. Our primary administrative tools are therefore inspiring suggestions, self-fulfilling prophecies and ideas whose time has come. So when Kyoto Journal called asking for municipal meditations on a Kyoto reborn, we were eminently prepared. Our program below is in fact an abridged sampling of ideas solicited from fifty-odd Kyoto grassroots groups (and some far odder individuals) whom we polled last spring in a survey called the 'Great Kyoto Vision Quest' ' May Your force be with them.

For most poignant effect; close the eyes, calm the breath and imagine for a moment a Kyoto aroused, whose citizens have awakened to her peril and their power, and then:

  • Introducing participatory democracy in its most ancient, muscular and incorruptible form: direct citizen initiatives & referenda;
  • Establishing Cyber-Kyo, an "electronic city hall." That is, an open, free, computer database/e-mail/conferencing service that contains all city records, assembly proceedings and legislative agendas, as well as public discussion areas. Such a living information system would make "city business" transparent and participatory by connecting all public officials directly with their citizen employers via home PCs and terminals in schools, libraries and other public buildings.
  • Immediately using their new initiative & referendum rights to:
    • Cleanse her hills, rivers and roadsides with Japan's first bottle/can refund system;
    • Preserve cultural and natural heritage sites with tough zoning codes, mandatory environmental impact assessments, and forgiveness of the 40%+ inheritance tax on well-maintained old structures and wilderness areas;
    • Subdue consumerism, waste and throw-away culture with public education, 'product durability' laws and brisk new levies on all 'disposable,' un-repairable or non-recyclable goods;
    • Champion clean, cheap and decentralized solar / hydrogen / cold fusion energy systems;
    • Impose a Gaian 'sin tax' on processed, chemicalized and sugar-drenched foods (as well as current agro-toxins) to aid farm households reverting to organic, sustainable agriculture.
  • Developing neighborhood Citizen Media Centers where townspeople study and practice modern media and political skills, including computer networking, community radio and video production;
  • Repossessing the FM band as a vital medium of community debate and expression, allocating its 30 idle frequencies to local schools, NGOs and citizen groups.
  • Wresting control of their children's education from faceless, centralized bureaucracies with locally elected school boards;
  • Shrinking class sizes by two-thirds (to an average of 15) to nurture each student's talents, thinking and creativity;
  • Offering optional apprenticeship programs in the fine manual arts (in cooperation with Kyoto's world-class craftsman population);
  • Introducing compulsory "ovulation awareness" biofeedback classes for high school girls so they can be truly responsible for their own fertility;
  • Creating secondary courses in political, legal and medical self-defense so graduates are not so helplessly dependent upon (and thus subservient to) huge organizations and commercialized services;
  • Prescribing (in the meantime) androgen supplements for acutely stress-debilitated middle school boys to safeguard their psychosomatic development.
  • Turning Kyoto's neglected mountain villages into vibrant natural farming / wildlife / craft / eco-education centers for the urban young;
  • Linking rural communities to the city and planetary nervous system with interactive media tech; and thereby
  • Bewitching creative young professional families to move out and enrich country life.
  • Establishing active 'sister city' ties and exchanges with historical art and craft communities throughout Asia, and
  • Setting up in each a 'Craft Heritage Exchange Center' containing a gallery, A/V library and diverse workshops staffed with gifted, successorless Kyoto craftspeople teaching Japanese methods, studying indigenous techniques, and working with local masters to inspire new work.
And if you too can imagine any or all this, dear reader, pray open your eyes and dream on...

See also the VMayor's Report to the Barbarians
The 1200th Birthday & Big Body Blues