Kyoto bakery

May 21, 2018

 

Kyoto is said to have the highest bread consumption in Japan. Kyoto has many bakeries and the consumption is the best in Japan. It is also known that there are many delicious bakeries. These are some recommended bakeries.

 

Le Petit Mech

The most popular bakery in Kyoto is “Le Petit Mech.” It is a bakery with a nice look like a bakery on

France’s street corner “Le Petit Mech.” The appearance is red, and local people have nicknames it “red mech.” It is a popular, delicious and tasty bakery shop. The shop is crowded with customers all the time. The bread is made by the owner, who was trained in France. French pastries are acclaimed around the world.

Business days are Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and public holidays. The inside of the shop is fancy, and decorated with many French images. French movie posters are on the walls, along with messages from customers from all over the world. There is an eat-in space with red gingham check tablecloth, and it is crowded with lots of people from early in the morning. Either with coffee or French beer, you can have delicious bread. The most popular pastry at Le Petite Mech is “Bacon Shrimp” which includes bacon, shrimp and black pepper.  This is so simple, but so popular in this bakery.

Next is baguette. This bread is made with a low temperature, so the smell is very good with a crisp exterior.

This bread costs 262 yen and it is 60 cm in length.

Address

Kyoto City Kyoto-shi Kamigyo-ku Imadegawa-ku Oomiya Nishi Ima 159 Roh Minami Kitaokicho

To go to this bakery, you take a bus [203] and get [go to Nishikibayashisyakomae] bus and get off at Imadegawaoomiya bus stop. Then, continue 140m on foot.

 

Grandieres Oike

A long-established Kyoto store is “Grandieres Oike shop”.

“Grandieres Oike shop” has a chic, calm and nice appearance. It is a long-established bakery which has been beloved in Kyoto since long ago. While taking over the old taste, it continues to make more delicious bread every day.

Various types of sandwiches are popular. This shop in the business area has many breads and good for lunch. For example, a burger with plenty of ingredients. You can also eat the bread you bought on the outside terrace. There are many kinds of delicious breads. The variety of breads is said to be the best in Kyoto. The most popular bread is “panini shrimp & avocado” for ¥460. Shrimp, avocado, cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, and basil sauce are included.

Bagels are also popular. They have a very nice scent and the  texture is wonderful. It is recommended to use the bagels for sandwiches.

 

Address

Kyoto Prefecture Kyoto City Nakagyo-ku Teramachi Oike Shimuru Ueonbonnji-mae cho 480-2 1F

To get to this bakery, you take the subway Karasuma line, and get off at the Kyoutoshiyakushomae station. From this station, 2 minutes on foot.

 

Tamakitei

Another popular bakery is Tamakitei. This bakery is in Uji.

 

Inside the shop is filled with the fragrance of freshly baked bread. It looks like delicious bread. There are lots of bread with individuality and impact. Every one seems to be really tasty. Although I don’t usually have such strong urges about food, in this shop I want to eat everything. One of the popular breads of the shop is “Panshue”. This is bread baked with a lot of bacon and potatoes. The taste of pepper, garlic butter, and parsley is makes it a flavorful meal. A fragrant, tasty baguette is another attractive specialty. Even though it has a deep taste, there is lightness, and when you start eating you won’t feel like stopping until the bread is consumed.

Also, the “cream croissant” is so delicious. It costs 230 yen. It has handcrafted custard and cream. This bread is campagne, so it is very delicious. This bakery is the only one that uses these ingredients.  In addition, this bakery has a refrigerated corner. There is bread available only at this refrigeration corner.  There are many breads with unique names such as Kanyane (クニャーネ), Ujibashi Dori, and Tan Tan France.  Kanyane has a very good texture. Ujigashi dori smells of tea. Tan tan France uses black beans. so, you can feel the taste of Japan. Please do try it once.

 

 

〒611-0011Kyoto Prefecture Uji-shi Gokenjo Hirano 57-14

to get this bakery, you take JR Nara line and get off at the Oubaku station. From this station, the bakery is 5 minutes on foot.

 

These three bakeries are so popular, but in Kyoto there are other delicious bakeries. When you visit Kyoto, please try to go to bakeries.

 

 

Ichijoji Ramen

ICHIJOJI RAMEN

WHAT IS ICHIJOJI RAMEN?

On the north side of the intersection of Higashi Odori and Kitaoji Dori, there is an area where ramen shops are gathered so that this area is called ramen highway in the fierce ramen battlefield “ichijoji” in Kyoto.

This time we will introduce 3 popular noodle shops recommended especially among ramen shops in such “Ichijoji”street.

 

GOKKEI RAMEN

The first restaurant is “Gokkei”. Rich soup is a popular dish in this restaurant.

This ramen shop’s menu includes “tori daku”, “aka daku” and “kuro daku”. Some people add toppings such as chashu [grilled pork] Plus 100 yen to make noodles flourish.

Tori Daku

This ramen is chicken-based ramen, it features a rich thick soup. The impression is heavy, but there is no persistence, so you can eat it with a plate dish. This ramen becomes addictive once you eat it.

Aka Daku

This is ramen sprinkled with chilli on the whole bowl. Under the red peppers is a thick soup, so if you taste it with chili pepper it is not as hot as it looks. Rich in noodles, rich soup and chilli are mingled together.

Kuro Daku

“Kuro daku” is ramen served with oil in it. It is ramen with scorched garlic for flavor, the aroma stimulating the appetite before eating. After finishing the ramen noodles, we eat rice in the remaining soup. If you would like to eat soup without leaving even a drop, please eat this way.

Store information

■ Store name: Gokkei Ramen

■ Nearest station: 5 minutes on foot from “Ichijoji Temple” station[Eizan-honsen line]

■ Address: 29-7 Nishikigawarahara-cho, Sokyoku-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto Prefecture

■ Phone number: 075-711-3133

■ Business hours: 11: 30 ~ 22: 00

* Business closes as soon as the soup runs out

■ Closed holiday: Monday

■ Smoking: Completely non-smoking

 

AKIHIDE

The next restaurant is “Akihide.” Informations about when this restaurant is opened is uploaded on Twitter about 30 minutes before opening. This means that the basic day is closed. You cannot go to a restaurant without watching Twitter information. There are always lined up in front of this restaurant on weekdays. In order not to bother the neighbors, please take care when lined up. In this restaurant, there are only 9 seats in the counter. The way to order ramen is only using vending machine.

This restaurant has regular size ramen(750 yen) and large size rmen(900 yen). You can also choose toppings such as seasoned eggs and garlic. Since rice is also prepared from 60 yen, rice is added to the ramen soup after eating up.

Store information

■ Store name: Ramen or Akihide (Akihide)

■ Nearest station: About 4 minutes on foot from the “Ichijoji Temple station”[Eizan-honsen line]

■ Address: 5-2 Kitakamaru-machi, Ikkyo-ji, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

■ Telephone number: None

■ Business Hours: Only during the time period posted on Twitter

■ Closed holiday: irregular holiday

■ Smoking: Completely non-smoking

 

TAKAYASU

“Takayasu” is 4 minutes on foot from the “Ichi-ji” station. The shopkeeper who opened in Takano-Tamaoka Town moved to Ichijoji in March of 2006. There are many female customers who have a fashionable appearance. It is always crowded. There are risks if you want to enjoy ramen without being lined up in row long time. The stock, which simmered for over 20 hours is made of pig bones and is creamy and rich in taste without any bad smell. You can also committed not to use vegetables to sweeten only with bones. Therefore, you can feel the taste of pork straight.

The noodles are tangled firmly in the soup. The whole balance of soup, noodles is well balanced. It is easy to try even those who do not like pig bones, and it is also attractive to enjoy a casual taste.

Store information

■ Store name: Chinese noodle Takayasu

■ Nearest station: 4 minutes on foot from “Ichijoji Temple”[Eizan-honsen line]

■ Address: 10 Kazuki-ku, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto Prefecture 10

■ Phone number: 075-721-4878

■ Business hours: [Monday – Friday] 12: 00-16: 00, 18: 00-23: 00

[Saturday, Sunday and public holidays] 12: 00 ~ 23: 00

■ Closed holiday: irregular holiday

■ Smoking: Completely non-smoking

 

How did ramen come to be established at Ichijoji? It was a popular area and any shop could take a chance on starting a business there.  When visiting Kyoto, please try ramen, as well as traditional Japanese food

Kyo-Ningyo

by Mai Takezawa, Sayaka Terasaki, and Kanako Wakamatsu

Introduction

In Japan, there are some traditional Japanese dolls called Nihon-Ningyo. It is a generic name of dolls which are wearing Japanese-style clothing and dressing Japanese hair made in Japan. One of Nihon-Ningyo is Kyo-Ningyo, which is made in Kyoto. This doll is so interesting. Most Japanese, especially Kyoto people, take good care of it and feel proud to have it.  Today we will introduce one of the traditional Japanese dolls, Kyo-Ningyo. After introducing the doll, we would like to tell some of its history, how it is made that the different kinds of Kyo-Ningyo that are produced.

Kyo-Ningyo

What is Kyo-Ningyo?

What is Kyo-Ningyo? It’s different from Hina-Ningyo. However, they are bothe the same kind of Japanese doll. Compared with Hina-Ningyo, which is shown only in March, most Japanese people, especially Kyoto people, who have a child display Kyo-Ningyo in their house all through the year. It is a kind of Japanese doll called Nihon-Ningyo and it’s called treasure of doll in Kyoto. It has a white face, long and narrow eyes and bobbed hair, and is wearing a kimono which is made from Nishijin-ori, fabric that was developed in Kyoto. It demands detailed work without compromise to make. Each part, like head, hair, trunk, arms and legs, is made separately and then finally synthesized from many parts into a whole doll. That’s why it takes much skill to make.  The dolls are hand made by skilled craftspeople and they cost a fair bit. Japanese people use these dolls to pray for protection against ill-fortune, especially around their child. The doll can represent boys and girls to undertake their position as a scapegoat and is believed to safeguard their child’s health.

By way of a general description, Kyo-Ningyo is about 50~100 centimeters high. In fact, the height of these dolls won’t be expressed in centimeters, but express in  “ban” or “gou” (Japanese words meaning number), which is a unit that indicates each doll’s size. It is expressed like “Kyo-12” or “Kyo-11 ban”. The size of doll is distributed from number from Kyo-12 ban to Kyo-7 ban. We can find which size is bigger clearly by idea which we explain from now. For example, Kyo-11 ban is same size as elevent part of Japanese height and Kyo-10 ban is same size as tenth part of Japanese height. So, you can find easily Kyo-10ban is bigger.

History of Kyo-Ningyo

The origin of Kyo-Ningyo goes back to the Nara Era (710 – 784) or perhaps an even older time. In ancient times, most traditional dolls, such as Haniwa and Dogu were made as human’s talisman. It is considered those dolls would shoulder human’s injury and ill-fortunre. Sometimes these dolls are found intermitted under the ground instead of humans. It is gradually changed from talisman to doll, and at this point the history of Kyo-Ningyo has begun. In the Heian Era (794 – 1185), playing with dolls was a trend among the aristocratic children. That doll was the origin of Hina-Ningyo. In the Edo era (1603 – 1868), the center of government was moved to Edo, but the center of doll making was still in Kyoto. At that time, many famous puppeteers were turned out from Kyoto. It is said that the form of Kyo-Ningyo was born in the Edo era. Kyo-Ningyo was famous for a tribute gift.

How to make Kyo-Ningyo

The operation process of Kyo-Ningyo was divided into small section, such as head, hair, arms and legs and so on. There is a specialist for making each section.

1. The process starts from the head section. The craftsman paints exclusive glue on doll’s head, then incises eyes, puts rouge on and draws eyebrows.

2. Another craftsman immerses the doll’s hair along a guide line. After that, he puts up doll’s hair and puts on the hair slide.

3. Finishing the head section, the craftsman moves on to body section. By using a knife, he whittles a piece of wood into a doll.

4. The other craftsman makes essential clothing and accessories for the dolls. For example, fan, bow, wardrobe and so on.

5. The costume for Kyo-Ningyo is also made by craftsman. Nishijin-Ori is often used for costume cloth.

The most famous dollmakers impart their skills only to their apprentices.  In this way, the doll-making skills are kept secret from outsiders. This is why Kyo-Ningyo was designated as a traditional handwork by the Ministry of Economy and Industry.

Kinds of Kyo-Ningyo

There are a lot of kinds of Kyo-Ningyo. We will introduce 3 kinds of them, Fushimi Ningyo, Gosho Ningyo, and Sekku Ningyo.

・Fushimi Ningyo

First, Fushimi Ningyo is a clay doll and the oldest folk toy. It was sold in front of the gate of Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine that is one of the very famous tourist attractions in Kyoto from Aduchi-Momoyma Era (1503~1603). In Hatsu-uma (that refers to the first day of the horse in February in Japan), people visit and pray at the shrine, after that, buy the doll. They enshrine it on the Kamidana that is a household Shinto altar with a charm against fires. In the end of Edo period, it was the most popular doll among Japanese people. There are about 90 kinds of clay doll now, and all of them are modeled after Fushimi Ningyo.

・Gosho Ningyo

Second is Gosho Ningyo. In the old times, the Imperial court gave the doll to the Daimyo (a feudal lord) in return for their dedicating. It was made for displaying in the middle of the Edo period, and displayed for celebrations such as marriage or childbirth. Gosho Ningyo is a plump children doll and has pure white skin. These are the greatest features of Gosho Ningyo.

Gosho-Ningyo

・Sekku Ningyo

Finally, Sekku Ningyo, which is the most familiar to Japanese people. “Sekku” means a seasonal festival in Japanese, for example, in Japan there are the doll festival in March, and children’s day in May. At this season, Japanese people display Sekku Ningyo. This contains a wish for healthy growth to their children.

Sekku-Ningyo

 

Conclusion

Kyo-Ningyo has been made since earlier than the Nara Era (A.D. 710) and has a lot of history.  After the capital city of Japan was moved from Kyoto to Edo that is called Tokyo now, Kyoto remained famous for making dolls and is still the center of doll-making now. and also Kyo-Ningyo was designated to as a traditional handwork by the Ministry of Economy and Industry. Japanese people display Kyo-Ningyo in their houses or give it to someone to pray their children’s healthy growth. We recommend you to look at or buy Kyo-Ningyo for a souvenir. The total cost of the doll is different depending on the size, the cheapest one is about 50,000 yen and an expensive one is about 250,000 yen or more expensive. You will definitely find Kyo-Ningyo that you can like.

Blanketed by Night in Gion

By Takumi Abe

 

Gion

When you walk in the Gion district of Kyoto, you have time-traveled back into the olden days of Japan. You will see traditional style house alsos and people wearing kimono. You can enjoy seeing not only such scenery, but you can enjoy Japanese foods such as matcha green tea, Japanese sake or sukiyaki. A river along one street in Gion is lined with stones and many willows, giving you a feeling of exoticism. After the sun goes down, you will be fascinated by the new mood of Gion. It has a relaxed atmosphere. laughter emerges from the old-style houses. I decided to record this special night mood through photographs.

 

The History of Gion

Gion was created in the late 1600s and prospered as a town that had developed near the gate of Yasaka Shrine. At this time, many beautiful women stood in front of the stores to attract customers. In the Meji period, from 1868-1912, the Gion area was expanded. Furthermore, Many famous Japanese writers loved Gion in this period. Eventually, Gion changed into the amusement and nightlife district it is now. Now, the northern area of Gion sparkles with bright neon lights. In the southern part of Gion, there is soft lighting and it is very quiet.

 

Gion Night Scenery

  • Yasaka Shrine

 

Yasaka Shrine

This shrine is the symbol of Gion, which extends out west from its base. This area prospered from people who came to worship at this shrine. Now, the gate is lit up every night.

 

  • Northern Gion

Northern Gion

In northern Gion, there are bars, snack bars and nightclubs. Many people go there to enjoy drinking and the nightlife. On Friday night, lots of taxis are coming and going.

 

  • Gion-shinbashi

 

Gion shinbashi

In northern Gion, glittering neon signs illuminate the streets. However, if you continue to walk north out the the more lively streets, there is an old Japanese-style district that has a quiet atmosphere. This area’s streets are covered with stones. You can enjoy the atmosphere and sophisticated Japanese restaurants.

 

  • Shijo Boulevard

 

Shijo

The Shijo Boulevard is the main busy street in Kyoto and in Gion. There are many people here for shopping, commuting, dining and drinking, going back home or just out walking. Shopping is the biggest reason that people come to Shijo, because there are so many different and attractive stores there.

 

  • Snowy Downtown

 

Snowy Downtown

When January arrives, it brings snow to Kyoto. The citiscape is changed by snow. People might think that temples or shrines covered with snow are beautiful, but the collaboration between snow and Gion is even more magical. You can see that old houses and streets are dressed in new snow.

 

  • Hanami-koji

 

Hanami koji

Hanami-koji is the main street of southern Gion. Red Japanese lanterns have images of dumplings printed on them. Gion was started with dumpling and green tea shops. In Japan, drinking Japanese tea while eating a dumpling is one of our favorite customs.

 

  • Rainy Gion

 

Raining in Gion

After a rain in Gion, the wet streets reflect the lights brilliantly. Those lights are white, red or brown. The pitter-patter of rain and the sound of footsteps fill the air.

 

  • Kennin-ji Temple

 

Kennin-ji temple

If you walk further south on Hanami-koji Street, you will see the traditional gate of Kennin-ji temple, Kyoto’s first Zen temple. You can experience the culture of Zen (禅) here and see beautiful fusuma and byobu paitnings and a Japanese garden.

 

  • The traditional pagoda

 

Yasakanoto

Yasaka-no-to is a three-story pagoda between Gion and Kiyomizu Temple. The presence of this pagoda is very photogenic. This is one of Kyoto’s most famous places, so many people come here and see it. At night, this area is so silent that you can hear your own footsteps and breathing.

 

  • Sakura

 

Sakura

Maruyama park stetches out in back of Yasaka Shrine. This park is famous for its cherry blossoms and there is one big cherry tree at its center. Regardless of age or sex, many people are attracted by this famous tree.

 

  • Under the trees

 

Enjoy Hanami

Many people enjoy viewing cherry blossoms with good food and alcohol. When people are under the trees, they feel delight. This is one way to have fun at night in Gion..

 

The Atmosphere of Gion

 

Gion is famous as a traditional Japanese entertainment district. However, the old structures coexist with modern bars and concrete buildings. So this area looks a little bit messy, but in fact, the long history of Gion remains intact. The area that has a long history is attracting many more people these days and they enjoy the nighttime with alcohol. It is good that people can enjoy and go a little crazy even in front of the holy shrine. When night comes, most people go to sleep at their hotel or guesthouse. If you have time or are not able to sleep, I recommend you go to Gion at night. Gion then has a bustling and buzzing face in addition to quiet and calm face along the river. You can feel this original atmosphere. Gion is both loud and quiet.

Another Kyoto: Modern Buildings in the Ancient Capital

By Takumi Abe

 

Kyoto

 

If  you have interest in Japan, you may know that Kyoto was the ancient capital for many centureis. Many tourists come to Kyoto to see the traditional temples and shrines, or Japanese houses built from wood. However, if you spend any time in Kyoto, you will also find some contemporary architecture. For example, when you walk along Sanjo street, you will encounter many modern buildings. Furthermore, there are more modern buildings in Kyoto than you probably expect. These structures are completely different from traditional Japanese-style houses. Do you know why such structures as these exist in the old city Kyoto? On this page, you can find another Kyoto.

 

Sanjo Moderns

Modern Buildings on Sanjo

When you walk down on Sanjo street, you will discover several modern buildings. Many date from the Meiji and Taisho eras (1868-1926). The most famous structure is the former branch of the Bank of Japan. Now it is used as the Museum of Kyoto. This building is covered with red tiles, so you feel like you are in Europe. It was built during the Meiji period when Japan brought in many things from the Western cultures in Europe and America.

 

the Museum of Kyoto

 

Another building that resembles the museum is the central post office. This post office was built in 1902 and it has been used ever since then. The roof and the exterior walls have been preserved.

the Nakagyo post office

 

The SACRA building was used to be the branch of a bank. The building reflects some Renaissance-style architecture. It was built in 1916.

 

 

 

In this building there are beautifully designed arches that appear on the façade. This building was built in 1890 and is the oldest building that was privately built in Western-style commercial construction.

 

 

The1928 Building was built in 1928, and it was used as a branch office for the English edition of the Mainichi Daily  newspaper. Nowadays this building is home to a gallery, restaurant and free space.

 

1928

 

 

At the Sanjo-Rougaemachi intersection stands another modern building that is registered as an important cultural property. This building is a wooden western-style building. It contains shops such as a kimono boutique, a restaurant and cosmetic store.

Modern building stands at the Sanjo-Ryougaemachi intersection

 

 

On temple grounds

Nanzenji temple

In the back of Nanzenji temple, you will discover an elevated aqueduct built of red bricks. You might feel strange when you see this because it looks out of place on the temple grounds. You can see the traditional temple and Roman style architecture. This aqueduct has been in use since it was built in 1888.

 

What you can see from modern buildings

Sanjo

 

Now the Japanese capital is Tokyo. However, before that, the capital of Japan was Kyoto. It was capital for about 1000 years. In the Meiji period (1868-1912), Japan tried to be like Western countries. That’s why there are many modern buildings in Kyoto. Moreover, when the capital was moved, Kyoto was on the edge of a cliff. The emperor moved, the nobility moved, the artisans that made things for the Imperial family moved. Kyoto had to find new life. Therefore, Kyoto people made Kyoto great without the emperor. Kyoto city residents made a plan to become great again by embracing the new scientific innovations that were invented in the late 1800s, including gas lighting and the introduction of water- powered electricity. The aqueduct at Nanzenji was but one part of this large plan to modernize the city. You can see from these modern buildings the efforts and strength of Kyoto residents and the city government of Kyoto. From Kiyomizudera temple and Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine, you can see the ancient Japanese faith. However, if you stand in front of a modern building, you may change your previous ideas about Kyoto.

Kyoto and Kurosawa

By Yu Sakamoto, Daiki Tabuchi, Kyosue Maruyama

 

Many classic Japanese movies were made on location in Kyoto in the 1950s. The movie industry in Japan started from Kyoto. Uzumasa is a district in western Kyoto that was once called the “Hollywood of Japan.” During the height of Japanese filmmaking in the 50s, Kyoto was a bustling film centre. The first time ever a movie was screened in Japan was in Kyoto. This movie industry created a lot of economic vitality and developed into one of Kyoto’s major cultural industries.

One of Japan’s most famous directors and screenwriters, Akira Kurosawa (1910 – 1998), made many movies in Kyoto. In his films he explored human nature with sharp insight and innovative imagery. His films influenced many film directors all over the world.

Filming The Seven Samurai, courtesy of Eiganotomo

The Seven Samurai

One of the most classic films in the history of Japanese Cinema is  The Seven Samurai (1954), which  takes place during the Sengoku (Warring States) period.

This movie, which was made by Akira Kurosawa, is known all over the world. Many international directors have said that this was a great influence on their own directing.  George Lucas, the director of one of the most popular movie franchises today, Star Wars, has said The Seven Samurai was one of his great influences.

In the Sengoku era, ronin or masterless samurai roamed the countryside. One farming village was constantly being attacked by bandits, so they decided to hire samurai to help defend their village. Samurai originally were often like bodyguards. Thus, seven samurai were hired by the villagers, to protect the farmers and their village. They battled the bandits in several sequences. This is the basic story of this movie.

One of the great points of this movie is its realism. Old clothing was really used. Helmets and armor were authentic. The sounds of this era were imagined and incorporated.  In some scenes the house were actually destroyed. Kurosawa took great care in the details so that the world he created seemed real.

Kurosawa directed people with passion. He occasionally said, “I don’t decide which scene was used.” He was a risk taker and did not cut corners.

Rashomon

Rashomon is one of the most famous novels and movies in Japan. It was written by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, one of Japan’s most famous writers and it was made into a movie by Akira Kurosawa in 1950. The title of this movie is Rashomon, but the contents are a little different from the original novel, and in fact, it describes events from two novels: Rashomon and Yabunonaka.

This movie was filmed using mirrors instead of reflectors to take advantage of the natural light. In the first scene Akira Kurosawa used hoses and water mixed with black ink to shoot a powerful image of rain in monochrome. This technique was also used in the battle scene of The Seven Samurai. He used many innovative techniques in his movies. Therefore, his works gradually came to be known around the world.

 

Akira Kurosawa

 

Noh-men

By Sayaka Terasaki, Mai Takezawa, and Kanako Wakamatsu

Introduction

There are a lot of arts in the world, of course, Japan has many art forms too.  One of them is performing arts, for example, Kabuki, Kyogen, and Noh. All of them are traditional arts and Japanese people cherish and are proud of these arts. Today, we would like to introduce you to Noh, especially Noh-men, which is a type of mask used in Noh. We are going to introduce the topic, Noh-men divided in these 4 topics.

1. What is Noh-men?

2. What is Noh?

3. History of Noh (Noh-men)

4. Kinds of Noh-men

Noh

What is Noh-men?

Noh-men is a mask that is used in a kind of play that is called Noh. It is said that the mask, Noh-men, was born in the middle of Muromachi Era (1338~1573). The mask, Noh-men, has many variations, and it is said that there are over 200 kinds of Noh-men today. People wear Noh-men and perform a play, Noh. Most Noh-men are created to be a smaller size than people’s face, so the audience can see Noh players’ chins under the Noh-men. However, this is the intended size. In addition, the eye holes of the Noh-men are very small. Because of this, it is very difficult for Noh-player with the mask to see clearly, so that they sometimes even they lose their bearings on the stage. In general, Noh-men has a fixed expression. It is very difficult to perform and act a play with the expressionless mask. However, Noh players can make expressions with the Noh-men. The way of making expressions with Noh-men is moving their face. If people want to express happy feeling, they raise their face up. The Noh-player shows that they are likely smiling to the audience. It is called teruin Japanese, and it means bright or shining. On the contrary, if people want to express a sad feeling, they hang their face down. They show that they are likely crying to the audience. It is called kumoru in Japanese, and it means cloud or depression.

Noh-men

What is Noh?

​ There are many surviving Japanese traditional performing arts such as kabukinoh-gaku and so on. Noh plays are often performed with comedic kyogen plays.  Together these performances are called Noh-gaku. Noh is a drama with stylized singing and dancing. The main theme of Noh is mostly about occult, but it is said that it is very elegant. One of the characteristic points of Noh is the scale of stage. Compared with Kabuki or a modern play, Noh does not have large sets and properties. Also, there are no curtains between stage and auditorium. The stage of Noh is wide open and simple. There are more than 240 programs which are still performed in Noh stage. Recently, some performers of Noh tried to make new program of Noh.

Noh Theater

History of Noh

​It is said the Noh came from China. Before the Edo Period, (1603 – 1868) it was called Saru-gaku. In the Heian Period (754 – 1185), Saru-gaku was mixture of mimicry and skit. It was often danced by farmers to celebrate a rich harvest. In the Muromachi Period (1333 – 1568), some nobles liked the dance of Noh, then it became sublime culture. In the Meiji Period, one famous theater, the Noh-gakudsha was built in the Shiba park where in Tokyo. At around the same time this was built, people started to call this performing art, “Noh”. That theater was called the symbol of Noh and many famous people, such as the empress, visited this stage to watch Noh. In the end of the 14th century, two prodigy performers Kan-ami and Ze-ami emerged. Kan-ami and Ze-ami were father and son. The father, Kan-ami made the new style of Noh, which was a mixture of traditional Noh and a rhythm like rap music. It was pretty novel at that period. The son, Ze-ami changed the refined the impression of Noh to a more formal style. Before Ze-ami changed the impression of Noh, it was very casual, because the interest of story was main point of Noh. But he changed the main point to music and dance. Noh was one of the means to entertain nobles, but on the other hand, it has an important role for charming and oblationa for gods. Noh-gaku was registrated as a World Intangible Heritage in 2008.

Kinds of Noh-men

Next, I’ll explain kinds of Noh-men. It is said that there are approximately 250 kinds of Noh-men in total and its basic shape is approximately 60 kinds. Hon-men were masks made from the Muromachi Era to the Azuchi-momoyamaEra (1573 – 1600).  People began making Noh-men by imitating the form of Hon-men which was the original menor mask.

Okina

Each family danced a Noh dance as a mark that gave a heart of the submission in  Yamato Imperial Court.  At that time, the leader of a family recited poetry. This custom is considered to be the source of the Okina dance. The Okina mask was made for it. It is said that Okina is oldest mask in Noh-men.

Onna-men

Onna-men was based on masks from the mask in Nara(dates) and Heian Era. It can express all the feelings of humans in Nogaku theatre with just one mask. There are 3 types of men.  One is shown as a young, beautiful woman who rose in dignity.  Another is a young girl with the common touch. The third is expressed the middle-aged woman who rose in dignity.

Otoko-men

It expresses the elegant aspect of a young, aristocratic-looking man and children of the Heike.

Jyo-kei

It expresses an old man’s face.

Kishin

It was made in early times and it expresses the supernatural, including an ogre and the long-nosed goblin.

Onryo

It expresses a departed soul. These souls have regretful feelings in the world. Ayakashi, which represents a military commander and looks like a scraggy man and a frog represents the soul of man. Mountain witch and Deigan with the eyes lined with gold paint represents the soul of woman.

Conclusion

Noh has continued to be performed, until modern times, since the middle of the Muromachi Era (1338-1573) Although it has a long history, it has been changed little by little. Japanese people value this tradition and will pass down it to posterity. That’s why still exists in our culture.

We can watch Noh for a reasonable price, about 2000 yen to 4000 yen in Japan. A Noh play lasts about two and a half hours.  Although it is a traditional art, there is no dress code for people attending the play, and even casual wear is not any problem at all. Even a T-shirt and jeans is all right. We hope that you have a chance to watch a Noh play and to see Noh-men once.

Matcha and Beauty

by Kanon Kanamaru, Yukiho Sawauchi

The History of Matcha

Tea was drunk in China and carried from there to Japan about 800 years ago by priests who went abroad to study culture in China. At first, it was used for medicinal purposes by noblemen. Later, the way of drinking tea stirred into hot water was introduced and took shape as the tea ceremony by Sen no Rikyu and others. Now, Japanese people drink it in the tea ceremony and daily life. But recently, matcha (powdered green tea) is very popular in the world and there are stores specializing in matcha in New York and Los Angeles.

Matcha and Beauty

Macha is drunk all over the world and it is famous as a superfood now. Superfood is a word used by doctors, and nutritionists for foods that contain a lot of active elements. For example, there are coconuts, cacaos, açaí palm and so on. Japanese food, natto and miso, are also considered superfoods. They contain a lot of effective ingredients for enhancing beauty. First, matcha has an effect on diet. There are catechin that reduces absorbtion of sugar, tannin that reduces and controls absorbtion of fat, caffeine that burns the fat and chlorophyll that lets unnecessary cholesterol out. It is most effective to drink three cups of tea every day. Next, matcha has vitamins. There are vitamin C that prevents liver spots and freckles, a vitamin that prevents dry skin and vitamin A that keeps the skin moist. Then, matcha has the effect of anti-ageing. It can prevent wrinkles, liver spots and freckles. Matcha is easy to drink and has a lot of effective ingredients for beauty. Matcha is very popular all over the world.

How to Take Matcha in the Body

Matcha can be taken into the body easily in some ways. Matcha is a little bit bitter and difficult for some people to drink every day. In the supermarkets and convenience stores, green tea containing matcha is sold as a drink. People can drink it more easily than matcha. Matcha smoothie, which is a mixture of bananas and soybean milk, is also easy to drink every day. Adding other ingredients, especially sweet ones, help to disguise the bitterness of matcha. Matcha is not only a drink, but also can also be made as dessert. Matcha sweets are the most popular way to take in matcha around the world. There are matcha chocolate, matcha cake, matcha parfait, matcha ice cream, and mactha cookies. Furthermore, there are cosmetics that are made of matcha. Matcha beauty soap and facial pack are sold around the world.

Matcha Diet

It is said that matcha is effective for reducing weight. If you want to try a matcha diet, it is recommended that you follow these rules for when, how much and how to make matcha.  In order to be effective, it is best to drink 3 grams of matcha in each cup and to drink several cups every day.  Matcha contains caffeine so it can wake you up in the morning.  By drinking it in the morning, you can start the fat-burning effects and keep them going all day long.  When you make matcha, the water should be 70 to 80 degrees, not boiling.  If the water is too hot, it will cause the matcha to lose some nutritional benefits.  Follow these rules to get the benefits of matcha in a reducing diet.

Relaxation Effect

If people drink matcha, they will become composed because it contains theanine. This suppresses exited states of the brain and reduces the possibility to get irritated. It also effects insomnia, high blood pressure, improvement of PMS and concentration. Matcha can make the body healthy and beautiful.

Matcha in Kyoto

Kyoto is the one of the famous prefectures that make matcha in Japan. There are a lot of matcha flavored sweets available here. We visited one famous matcha shop, called “Matcha House” in Kawaramachi. This is very popular for people on holiday, although customers must wait for 2 hours and more. We also waited for two hours. We ate matcha tiramisu and drank green tea. The green was beautiful and the dish was served in a small mortar. It was really delicious.

A Kyoto Sightseeing Plan for Spring

By Erica Wada & Yumika Fujii

The four seasons in Japan are defined clearly, so visitors can enjoy each of them in Kyoto. We would like to introduce good ways to spend time in Kyoto during its spring season.

Special sightseeing plan for spring 

spring

 

Spring comes to Kyoto in April. The average temperature for April in Kyoto is around fifteen degrees Celsius. The maximum temperature is over 30 degrees and the minimum is around zero, so we suggest that you bring a few layers of clothing such as cardigan or a light jacket as it may get chilly at night. Kyoto is famous for sokobie, which means freezing cold in Japanese, so you may feel more cold in Kyoto than compared to other prefectures in Japan. This is because of the high humidity in Kyoto. Moisture tends to collect in this basin.

Cherry blossoms are very popular in Kyoto, so you can enjoy cherry-blossom viewing in many places. Among the best ones are along the  Kamogawa River (鴨川), in Umekoji Park (梅小路公園) and at Toji Temple (東寺).

The Kamo River

The long rows of cherry trees along the banks of the Kamogawa river are a symbol that tells us that spring as arrived in full force. There are Prunus yedoensis, weeping cherry trees, (しだれ桜) and fresh green trees, and the combination of those trees is fantastic. You can take a walk along the river for several kilometers. Also, a good point is that you do not need to pay any admission—because  nature is free.

Kaikado Café – coffee and dessert

You can enjoy a stylish open-air cafe that was renovated from the Showa period. If you get tired walking, you can have a rest here and drink a cup of coffee (810 yen) or eat some Kaikado cheese cake (540 yen). It is South of Gojo Street on the west side to the river.n

Umekoji Park

 “Satozakura street” is surrounded by a grassy area in Umekoji Park. The street has a fine view that includes Mt. Atago in western Kyoto. So it is best to visit on a clear day. The entrance fee is 200 yen per person.

 Toji Temple

In this temple, there is weeping cherry blossom tree in front of the Five-story pagoda, which has been designated as a National Teasure, and is the tallest pagoda in Japan. We strongly recommend that you visit Toji after dark because the cherry blossoms will be lit up from the middle of March to the middle of April. You can visit the precincts of temple for free, but you have to pay if you want to view the cherry blossoms at night (500 yen). Other temples that feature light-ups in spring are Kodai-ji and Tenju-an. Toji Temple is just a ten-minute walk southwest of Kyoto Station.

Tatehara 

This is a meat shop that always has a line of customers at lunchtime. Here, you can eat a hot croquette, Japanese-style deep-fried kabob and so on. The croquette costs only 60 yen, and surprisingly, they do a discount on Saturdays and on the 21st of every month. You can walk and eat, so it is perfect for a light meal on the stroll. Tether is on Hachijo Street and on the way to Toji Temple from Kyoto Station.

In conclusion, there are many wonderful spots that you can visit and feel spring in Kyoto.

The History of Meat in Kyoto

By Tsubasa Ota, Kyoka Azuma, Hiroto Takao

Representative meat in Kyoto: Tannbagyu

Tannbagyu

 

The history of meat in Kyoto is quite old.  The first reference to Kyoto beef is over 700 years ago.  It is marked as tannbagyu by the oldest “book of meat” which was written in 1310. “Tannba” is northern part of Kyoto,  and gyu is Japanese for beef. First of all, it is a brand of meat in Kyoto, so all of the cows in Kyoto cannot become Tannbagyu. There are many conditions. Tannbagyu have to be taken care of with professional skills, raised in an environment abundant with nature and drink the clearest water. In 2017, it won an award at the meat industry festival in Tokyo, so it is the one of the most famous brands of meat in Japan for sure. It is said that the rich taste of tannbagyu was enjoyed as long ago as the Heian Period (794 – 1185) by aristocrats. In the Jomon and Yayoi Era Japanese people did eat meat. However, in 675 A.D., Emperor Tenmu prohibited all Japanese from eating meat. This ban was reinforced by succeeding emperors and become a strong taboo, connected to the Buddhist religion. The ban was eventually lifted and in the Meiji Era, Japanese people began to eat meat again.Some of the characteristics of the tannbagyu are really good texture, perfect marbling and fine fiber. These characteristics make tannbagyu much better than other meats among the wide variety of meats in Japan. Furthermore, tannbagyu cows are living in very comfortable locations. For example, they are always waking up listening to cries of birds and sleeping while listening the sou nds of birds, so they are taken care of without any stress. By enjoying a natural life, the flavor and texture of their meat is enhanced.

Japanese traditional meat food : Sukiyaki

Sukiyaki

It is said that Japanese people first enjoyed meat in a  dish called sukiyaki which originated from the Edo Period (1603 – 1868). Sukiyaki is kind of Japanese hot pot and a really popular traditional cuisine. One particular feature of the dish is its sweet broth. When we make sukiyaki, we use sugar in the stock, which also contains mirin, a rice wine, and soy sauce.  We cook sliced beef and vegetables in sukiyaki broth. We also add tofu, mushrooms and clear noodles.  We usually eat sukiyaki for special events such as someone`s birthday, payday, New Year’s day and so on. Sukiyaki is a festive dish and expensive to make because of the high quality beef.In 1870, the first sukiyaki restaurant opened in Tokyo, at the same time a location opened in Kyoto as well. They used tannbagyu in sukiyaki. Then, a bunch of people who ate sukiyaki in Kyoto were fascinated. There are slight differences between the Tokyo and Kyoto versions of the popular dish. In Tokyo, they simmer beef and vegetables at the same time. On the other hand, in Kyoto, we simmer beef first and then add vegetables. This is just a slight difference, but when you eat and compare, you might be able to distinguish how different they are.The image of Japanese dishes is often low fat and very simple. However, meat dishes are also popular and easy to procure in Kyoto, which is city far from the sea.  Simple Japanese dishes such as rice balls, miso soup and bowls of noodles are plain next to the excitement of a rich, sweet, aromatic pot of sukiyaki, served on festive occasions.  Although it is sometimes prepared at home, there are many restaurants in Kyoto that specialize in sukiyaki.  Many others feature yakiniku, Korean style grilled beef served with rich, sweet, or spicy sauces.

Kyoto dishes other than Sukiyaki

The famous Katsu restaurant ”Katsugyu”

Kyoto’s cow is now used not only for sukiyaki but also for many other specialties in Kyoto. In Kyoto, consumption of beef is ranked highest in the whole country. This was surprising. In addition, Kyoto Prefecture is ranked highest in the country, for bread consumption. It is said that this is related to the personality and temperament of people who live in Kyoto. One of the famous Kyoto dishes is the sandwich. The most popular of Kyoto’s sandwiches is the egg sandwich, but another one is the beef sandwich, made of cutlets garnished with ketchup on white bread. Furthermore, since coffee goes well with a beef sandwich, Kytoto’s consumption of coffee is also ranked highest in the country. Surprisingly, the purchase ranking of tea is low, at 40th of Japan’s 47 prefectures.Kyoto’s beef cutlet is called “Kyoto katsugyu”. The beef katsu, or cutlet, is cooked medium rare, so that the meat is tender. It is usually served with wasabi soy sauce.  Kyoto kasugyu is spreading in popularity nationwide, and there are already 10 restaurants in the Tokyo area, and in Korea.  Soon, this dish may spread around the world.

There are several kinds of meat in Kyoto.

The exlanation about the meat in Kyoto

Besides Tamba  beef, Kyoto has various kinds of meat. Most of them are Kuroge Wagyu  cattle. They are “Kyoto gyu”,”Kyo no niku”,”Tanba gyu”,Kameoka gyu”, “Kyo tanguro gyu”.  Although Kyoto’s cattle, especially Tamba cows, have a long tradition, they are overshadowed by more famous neighbors. Kyoto cattle farms are sandwiched between Hyogo prefecture and Shiga prefecture, which are both famous for producing specialty beef. So, we  named the high-grade meat produced and raised in Kyoto Prefecture as “Kyoto meat” and sold it as a brand of Kyoto. Breeding is mainly carried out in the Nantan area of ​​Kameoka City, Nantan City, and Kyotanba Town. After fattening at each farm, butchering, packaging and processing of the beef is done in Kyoto city.The history and circumstances of the meat in Kyoto is especially deep. We have continued to raise cows and environment to take care of them from 1310 until now, but until now, we have been changing how to cook them and eat them. Of course, sukiyaki is not only the way to eat tannbagyu. We have a lot of cuisine using tannbagyu in these days. tannbagyu has been made by a variety of dishes. Each dish has a particular advantage when it comes to reminding everyone of tradition. There are many brands of meat in Kyoto, not only the historic tambagyu. In conclusion, the meat in Kyoto has long history and it has been handed down until today. Kyoto meat is soul food for people in Kyoto.