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The Emma Press


How Kyoto Breaks Your Heart

How Kyoto Breaks Your Heart


How Kyoto Breaks Your Heart is a collection about the ways in which heartbreak can fill a place and make it impossible to stay.

It is early October now, a warm, sunny afternoon with a dreamlike cast, and we’re harvesting persimmons. The tree is still lush and green; in a few weeks it will be bare, scattering leaves in a brilliant carpet of mottled tangerine and vermillion. She shimmies up the ladder and snips away at the fruit-laden boughs with red shears. I catch them – mostly – and prise the persimmons from the branches by their calyxes. If I close my eyes I can still hear our peals of laughter, her yelps and curses as some fruit falls into the roof gutters.’


Page count: 152pp

Publication date: 23 February 2023

Paperback ISBN: 9781915628008


Stock allowing, your package will include our latest risoprint zine, ‘The Emma Press Post’, which features poems and illustrations from the titles our catalogue, plus original drawings.

GTIN: 9781915628008 SKU: 9781915628008 Categories: , , Tags: ,

Florentyna Leow

Florentyna Leow is a writer and translator. Born in Malaysia, she lived in London and Kyoto before moving to Tokyo. Really, though, she lives on the internet. Her work focuses on food and craft, with an emphasis on under-reported stories from rural Japan, like English Toast (neither English nor toast), a shrine dedicated to ice, and Japan's rarest citrus. She cannot go five minutes without thinking about food. How Kyoto Breaks Your Heart is her first book. She can be found @furochan_eats on Instagram and Twitter, or at


20-something and uncertain about her future, Florentyna Leow is exhilarated when an old acquaintance offers her an opportunity for work and cohabitation in a little house in the hills of Kyoto.

Florentyna begins a new job as a tour guide, taking tourists on elaborate and expensive trips around Kyoto’s cultural hotspots. Amidst the busy tourist traps and overrun temples, Florentyna develops her own personal map of the city: a favourite smoky jazz kissa; a top-shelf katsuobushi loving cat; an elderly lady named Yamaguchi-san, who shares her sweets and gives Florentyna a Japanese name.

Meanwhile, her relationship with her new companion develops an intensity as they live and work together. Their little kitchen, the epicenter of their shared life, overlooks a community garden dominated by a fruitful persimmon tree. Their relationship burns bright, but seasons change, the persimmon tree out back loses its fruit, and things grow strange between the two women.

Praise for How Kyoto Breaks Your Heart

“I would let Leow’s writing take me anywhere, but in these pages Kyoto transpires to be a particularly meaningful and enchanted destination for her to transport her reader. Friendship, food, language, tour-guiding, and all the myriad kinds of love—whatever she’s addressing in the moment, her fragrant, juice-filled prose is coated in a crispy-soft casing of wisdom, self awareness and compassion.” – Polly Barton, author of Fifty Sounds

“I really loved this. I though it was one of those books that feel like it’s giving you a hug. I’m often asked for books that deal with female friendship and there aren’t a whole lot of them and this book really does a brilliant service to friendship, in that it is treating it with as much weight as you would a romantic relationship” Jen Campbell, author of Please do not touch this Exhibit and The Girl Aquarium



“This writing is so beautiful it makes you feel tipsy and warm like a sherry at Christmas” – Kathryn Williams, singer, songwriter & novelist


‘I didn’t realise how much this would personally touch and move me’ Hannah May


‘This is a book with the power to help one reconnect to one’s own life and story with increased tenderness and compassion.’ – Eric Margolis for Metropolis Japan


‘Leow’s collection is a beautifully written exploration of friendship, making a city your home and heartbreak through food writing, travel, cultural and social explorations and elements of memoir. It should be too much for such a slim volume, but it works perfectly.’ – Sophie for Books, Burgers and Backpacks


‘Leow has a way with words that carried me into each moment so evocatively that I devoured this short book in one session: there is a lyricism to every description she delivers’Bookaholic Bex


‘One of my favourite books of this year. It’s a book that I want to both devour immediately but also savour slowly to try and appreciate the work Leow has put into it’ – Rhi, @thewordslikedust


“A much needed voice to the chorus of writing on Japan… an expressive unpacking of one broken heart, universal to any time or place.” – Kris Kosaka for The Japan Times


‘To read Florentyna’s essays felt like someone saw the soul of my past self and created art with it.’ – Katrina, The Imperfectionista


“A beautifully lyrical and poignant book.” – Millie, @millies.reading


“Leow captured the simultaneous heartbreak and beauty of friendship perfectly… I found myself laughing and sobbing in equal measures” – Imogen, @imogens.corner


“She is generous, funny, blunt as she needs to be, mindful of where she stands… You will fall in love.” – Yuki Tejima, @booknerdtokyo


“A well-done, thought-provoking and passionate read – and it might just break your heart too.” – Ilina Jha for Redbrick Magazine


“I loved to see a story of friendship told as the one of a relationship and found myself craving persimmons.” – Margaux Vialleron, author of The Yellow Kitchen


“I absolutely loved it; I found it so atmospheric and transporting and couldn’t wait to get back to it and keep reading.” – Emily Itami, author of Fault Lines


“I’ve been missing Japan so much lately and really couldn’t wait to get back to Florentyna’s book and be transported to Kyoto, and her observations about friendships and people were so wise and true.” – Emily Paine


“While How Kyoto Breaks Your Heart offers no closure, no emotional catharsis, it does provide comfort—shelter amid unfamiliar rains” Cha Journal

Additional information

Dimensions 12.9 × 8 × 19.8 cm

Paperback, eBook

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