A young sake bar owner, Yusuke Shimoki, arrives on the doorstep of Hannah Kirshner’s Brooklyn apartment “with a suitcase full of Ishikawa sake,” in Hannah’s words. That visit sparked a years-long connection between Hannah and the rural Japanese community of Yamanaka, a home for artisans and artists, hunters and farmers, and other ordinary Japanese trying to live in the countryside.
Those visits are the subject of Hannah’s book, Water Wood and Wild Things: Learning Craft and Cultivation in a Japanese Mountain Town, published in hardcover by Viking in 2021, and in paperback by Penguin this year. Hannah learns how to make sake, craft wooden trays, hunt ducks, farm vegetables, and several other activities common in this part of rural Japan.
And, as an added bonus, readers get to see recipes garnered from Hannah’s time in Yamanaka!
In this interview, Hannah and I talk about rural Japan, duck hunting, drinking sake and growing vegetables, as well as some of her favorite recipes in the book!
Hannah Kirshner is a writer, artist, and food stylist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, T Magazine, Vogue, Saveur, Taste, Food 52, Atlas Obscura, and Food & Wine, among others. Trained at the Rhode Island School of Design, Kirshner grew up on a small farm outside Seattle and divides her time between Brooklyn and rural Japan.