James Beard Publication of the Year 2017

R&K Insider: Inside the hidden diaries of a gay man

This week on Roads & Kingdoms, we published an essay on what it may have been like to be a gay man in Tokyo in the 80s and an interview with a photographer documenting the lives of people living “off the grid.” Plus, a photo essay on one of the largest freshwater fish in the world.

This post originally appeared on July 6, 2018, in Anup Kaphle’s weekly newsletter. Read the archives and subscribe to the newsletter.

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Good morning. What would you do if you found something that doesn’t belong to you? Depends, you might say. What if they were personal diaries hidden away in the ceiling of the apartment you’ve been living in for months?

Elijah Alperin, who was studying abroad in Tokyo a few years ago, decided to read them. In a story we published this morning, Alperin describes how a broken bathroom circuit led him and his roommates to discover a dusty stack of books tucked away in the ceiling. Inside, they found a vintage issue of a Japanese gay magazine and two journals written between 1980 and 1984.

The diaries belonged to a gay man—they were signed “Sugar Boy Yuki”—who lived in the same flat thirty years ago, and through his story, Alperin retraces what it might have been like to be a young gay man in Tokyo during the 80s. Read the full story here, accompanied by some gorgeous illustrations from Daisy Dee.

From Tokyo, we take you across to California. Los Angeles-based photographer Rachel Bujalski takes you inside the world of people who are living “off the grid.” Bujalski started taking pictures when she was living on a boat to cut down her living costs, but she soon discovered an entire community of people who live simpler lives—on a boat, up a tree—either by choice or because they were affected by the housing crisis. Read her interview with R&K’s photo editor Cengiz Yar.

Talking about boats, R&K’s Michael Snyder and Mexico City-based photographer Felipe Luna traveled in a canoe through the Bolivian Amazon meeting fishermen from villages where a monster fish has become the core part of their economy. Paiche, pronounced PIE-CHAY, is one of the largest freshwater fish in the world, whose popularity has grown in recent years because of its succulent meat.

We also have a post by Natasha Burge on why it’s never too hot for a hot bread in Saudi Arabia—even when it’s north of 110 degrees. And Magdalena Tan goes on a hunt for the best churros in Malaga.

Before I leave, a quick note on what our sister site Explore Parts Unknown is up to. In honor of Anthony Bourdain, the team at Explore Parts Unknown will continue to tell stories and celebrate the food, music, and rough beauty of the places Tony traveled to for his CNN show. This week: Russia, which Tony visited for an episode in 2014. Please take a look.

See you all next week. Happy weekend.

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