Hamish Downie’s Five Questions With Phillip Jackson
Editor Note: Hamish has another in his series of Five Questions With…
Hamish came up with this idea because he was accumulating too much material for his Famous News Sushi column and asked if he could do these mini-interviews. Why would we say no?
Thank you Hamish for being such a trooper for us. We really appreciate all for your hard work.
Let us know what you think of these interviews in the comments below.
TGG: Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
PJ: Hi and thanks for asking me to do this five questions interview. My name is Phillip Jackson, I’m originally from North Lincolnshire, England, and first came to Japan in 1998, I now live in Kyoto with my wife and two children.
TGG: Could you tell us about your travel book series, “Hidden Paths”?
PJ: The series of books are called HIDDEN PATHS – Walking Historical Kyoto. Up to now, I’ve put out volumes 1-4 plus an omnibus edition covering all the walks from the four volumes updated, edited, and including new photos. I’m currently working on volume 5. I have an interest in history and I also enjoy walks and hiking so putting the two together seemed the natural thing to do. I enjoy standing in a location and thinking about events that have occurred there in past decades or centuries, whether that be stepping through the same window of the Whitehall Banqueting House in London as King Charles did in 1649 to his execution, or touching a sword blade cut on a finial of Sanjo Bridge in Kyoto from the Ikeda-ya massacre of 1864 when the Shinsengumi burst in and attacked Choshu and other rebels that were holding a meeting there. And with all of the walks that I put into HIDDEN PATHS, I only include them if I’ve visited the locations myself.
TGG: In Volume 3 & 4, you include some paranormal stories, and you’ve got a book, “Paranormal Kansai”. What are some of your favourite paranormal stories around the area?
PJ: I like paranormal stories that have an interesting back-story, not just ‘at this location the ghost of this or that has been seen’. So probably my favourite for Kyoto, as that’s my adopted hometown, would be one that appears in my book PARANORMAL KANSAI which revolves around
the samurai Akechi Mitsuhide. Akechi Mitsude is famed as the general who turned on his lord Oda Nobunaga and was responsible for Oda’s death in 1582. Cutting a very long and complicated story short, Akechi Mitsuhide was soon defeated at the Battle of Yamazaki by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and fled through the Ogurisu area of Fushimi, Kyoto where he was killed after being impaled on a bamboo spear. It is reported that if you visit this location on a stormy night that you will hear the screams of the samurai in the surrounding bamboo woods, replaying the fatal attack from over 400 years earlier. I have visited the location twice, but not on a stormy night, as yet! My favourite from outside of Kyoto is in Osaka, the Sennichimae execution grounds and Department Store fire. In 1972 the Sennichimae Department Store, where a BIC Camera now stands, caught fire and tragically 118 people lost their lives. There have been so many ghostly tales since then connected to that event but what gives me the shivers the most is that during the Tokugawa era the location was an execution ground and the number of people reportedly executed during that time was 118, the exact same number as died in the Sennichimae Dept. Store fire.
TGG: When we are allowed to travel again, I hear you also conduct tours. Could you tell us about what kind of tours you offer?
PJ: Historical walking tours basically, these can be for individuals or groups, short 1 hour routes or long treks. There are some example walks on my website, and of course any of the routes that appear in the HIDDEN PATHS books. I’m also happy to put together a route based on a request from customers to suit the kinds of places that they want to see and hear about. Some of the walks can be in the city, and also they can be totally in nature. But of course, you need to be ready to walk!
TGG: Now, your Twitter handle has music at the end, so could you tell us about your music?
PJ: Sure, I’ve played the guitar for more years than I can remember, I think I have about ten guitars at the moment (a couple of Les Pauls, a
couple of Flying V’s, a Strat…). I’ve played with a number of bands over the years, live and studio (a mix of rock, blues, acoustic, ambient, fusion), plus recording guitar on other people’s projects. So I have original music on YouTube and Bandcamp, and I hope to be playing live again when the Pandemic is over. As well as playing I’ve also been writing the music pages (pick-ups, listings, and interviews with bands) for the magazine Kansai Scene since 2004.
TGG: Finally, could you please tell us how we can best support you? (Where can we buy your books, take your tours, watch your videos, and follow you on social media)
PJ: All of my books are available from all regions of Amazon, there is also lots of info at my website:
related to HIDDEN PATHS books and walks, and PARANORMAL KANSAI. There is a HIDDEN PATHS YouTube channel (HIDDEN PATHS – Walking Historical Kyoto) which has book info, radio slots, and podcast interviews. As well as the HIDDEN PATHS and PARANORMAL KANSAI books I have also put out two fantasy solo RPG gamebooks and sci-fi fiction (all of which is available from Amazon). I also have a site covering music and writing which is:
Music track (rock)
Music track (acoustic)
Bandcamp links https://phillipjackson.bandcamp.com/music