Ban-cha, Matcha and Fukujuen

October 16, 2017

By Kazuki Kume and Yoshiki Kawauchi

Kyoto is the origin of Japanese tea culture. It developed forms of serving and drinking tea that were very artistic. There are two famous teas in Kyoto; ban-cha and matcha (green tea).

What is ban-cha?

Ban-cha is a kind of green tea drunk all over Japan. Ban-cha especially made in Kyoto is called kyo ban-cha. Many people have been drinking it since ancient times because it is cheaper and easier to get than other teas. Its taste is refreshing, although it also contains some astringency. The name of this tea has two origins: one name meant the drinking tea on a daily basis, in other words it was inexpensive. Ban means “usually” and “everyday” in Japanese. Until the middle of the Edo period, it is thought that most of the tea drunk by people was ban-cha.The other meaning of ban was “evening”. . In other words, ban-cha is a late harvest tea. Ban-cha is not made from newly sprouting leaves, but it from hard tea leaves. Therefore, the size of its tea leaves is bigger than the others.

the size of its tea leaves is bigger than the others

 

The effects of tea

You may expect that quality of the tea is low if it is cheaply priced. However, that is a mistake. You can get various effects from cheaper teas. For example, such teas contain a lot of tannin. Tannins improve the function of the intestines. So it is said that such teas can help prevent colon cancer. Also, ban-cha has less caffeine than the other teas, so you can drink without worrying about it keeping you up late at night. In addition, catechin, which is contained in the tea, has the effect of reducing body fat. By taking in catechin before meals, it is said you can keep body fat from building up.

Matcha and its famous shop

Fukujuen building

Kyoto flagship tea store Fukujuen is one of the most famous “Uji Matcha” stores in Kyoto. Located between Hankyu Kawaramachi and Hankyu Karasuma this shop has seven floors. Each floor is interesting to visit. In the first basement floor we can blend many kinds of tea together to drink. We can also enjoy a Japanese traditional tea party there. On the first floor is a stand for “Uji Matcha” —probably the most popular item for foreign customers. On the second floor is a café. We can eat matcha sweets and have a light meal. On the third floor is a restaurant. This restaurant offers dishes which mix “Uji Matcha” with  French cuisine. We are able to discover new combinations in these meals. On the fourth floor is a tearoom. In this room, we can have a tea party easily. The fifth floor is like art gallery. There are many great tea implements here. Most of them are original designs of “Fukujuen” and the implements are all hand made.. the last floor is for entertainment. The room is made of marble. The atmosphere is so cool.

You can enjoy “matcha sweets” in Fukujuen.

Iwatayama—Kyoto’s Monkey Mountain

By Kazauki Kume and Yoshiki Kawauchi

Arashiyama, in Kyoto, is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Japan. Not only Japanese but also many foreign tourists visit this part of Kyoto city every year. Arashiyama has many different kinds of sights and is famous for temples, shrines, a huge bamboo grove, autumn leaves and the Togetsukyo Bridge. Arashiyama is surrounded by nature and so visitors can enjoy different scenes as the seasons change. In the middle of such a sightseeing mecca, there is a monkey paradise called Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama.

 

Arashiyama Monkey Park

This monkey park was begun after Japanese monkeys (nihonzaru or the Japanese Macaque) living there were fed for research by Kyoto University in 1954. After that, the area became a park and was opened to the public in 1957. Currently, about 120 monkeys live in their wild state. However these monkeys have come to recognize that human beings do not pose a threat to them because there are strict rules for visitors. Therefore, even if humans come nearby, the monkeys are not afraid. But you must not gaze at their eyes or touch them because they recognize these actions as aggressive behavior and will retaliate. In their view, you are taking a threatening attitude toward them.

About Japanese monkeys

Japanese monkeys are well known for appearing in old folktales in Japan. In their natural habitat they live in groups of about a dozen individuals and their life expectancy is said to be around 30 years. Among monkeys, the Japanese Macaque is the northernmost most species. Since monkeys are usually distributed in tropical regions, Japanese monkeys, especially those living in the northern snowy areas of Japan, are called “snow monkeys.” They usually live in deep in the mountains. Therefore, researchers around the world are very surprised because they can see monkeys here.

Access, Fees and Information

The park entrance is about fifteen minutes from the Hankyu Arashiyama and Keifuku Arashiyama train stations. In addition you have to walk a mountain path for about ten minutes from there. You should wear good walking shoes or boots and not high heels. Sports shoes or sneakers are best. There are no free exclusive parking for visitors, but there are pay parking lots nearby the entrance.

The admission fee is 550 yen for each adult and 250 yes for children (children nder three years of age are free). There are a group rates for parties of thirty or more. If the group rates apply, the fee becomes 450 yen for adults and 200 yen for children. If you want to feed the monkeys, you have to pay 100 yen on the top of mountain. You can buy apples, pineapples and peanuts for 100 yen.

The Monkey Park is open throughout the year. However on days of heavy rain days or heavy snow it is closed. If you want to check if the park is open, you can call 075-872-0950. Business hours are 9:00~16:30 in summer (March 15~September 30) and 9:00~16:00 in winter (October 1~March 14). But sometime the monkeys return to the forest later in the day. So you should visit the park at an early time.

Starting a Day in Kyoto Station

by Takumi Abe

Japanese life in morning

At Kyoto Station many people head to school or work at the beginning of the day. If you are there, you can feel Japanese daily life in the morning. We cannot see such a scene in temples or shrines. Commuters are coming and going in the station. You can see many faces with delightful, depressed or serious looks.

Kyoto Station starts “Rush Hour” at 7am with arriving trains. At this time, the station is crowded. I took pictures of commuters, tourists and station officers at this busy time. You can feel a very different atmosphere at Kiyomizu temple. I hope you enjoy the photos enough that you will want to visit Kyoto Station in the early morning. I was there for an hour from 7 AM.

Starting a day from Kyoto Station

No.1 Starting Gift Shop

Gift shop (Omiyageya)

People who come to Kyoto are not only tourists but also students on school excursions and salaried workers on business trips. Some of them use Kyoto Station for going back home. They buy souvenirs in gift shops in the station. Clerks want them to buy gifts so they put goods on the shelves.

No.2 Keeping clean for users

Be clean

People are coming and going in the station. It is not easy to keep clean especially on rainy day. However, the station is always sanitary. In the background, there is a lot of hard work being done by the facility workers.

No.3 For Kyoto

The gate

At the same time as arriving trains, all the people go through automatic ticket gates. Their daily life in Kyoto begins. They head to school or work in the city.

No.4 Changing trains

On stairs and elevators

Kyoto station has JR (Japan Railway) and Kintetsu (Kintetsu Railway). Some people change trains for JR or Kintetsu. Lots of people run into each other in the elevators and stairs. They walk in a hurry while somehow avoiding collision.

No. 5 If you need help

Officers help you

Station officers help everybody.  They want users to feel comfortable. If you do not know where a destination is, officers answer and relieve your anxiety.

No.6 A student

a Student reading a book

Half of the station users are students. While waiting for trains, they chat with friends or read a book or study.

No.7 School trip

School trip

In Japan, Kyoto is a famous destination for school trips. Many students study the history of Kyoto and Japan. They also learn how to go to famous places.

No.8 Starting Sightseeing

It is difficult to be in unfamiliar place

Tourists also start here to get to tourist sites. In front of the map, some tourists check where their destination is. This map shows you locations. In a cafe, some tourists eat breakfast to build up energy for the day ahead.

No.9 A line

No.0 platform

On platform 0, users make lines without disorder. They use phones for checking e-mails, messages or news. They look down on small screens. If you stand beyond the yellow line, you will be warned by the station staff.

No.10 In the busy time

He watched Shinkansen and trains

In the rush hour, it is not easy to have inner peace. However, a place you always use looks different between busy times and free times.  You may find another face of the Kyoto Station if you look.

Morning Kyoto

Speaking of Kyoto, many people will come up with temples and shrines. However, if you are interested in daily Japanese life, you can see it in Kyoto Station. You can see common Japan. In famous places in Kyoto, you can feel old Japan. Kyoto Station however, is filled with another part of Japanese culture. These pictures taken in Kyoto station belong to this part. If you have time to stay in Kyoto, I want you to enjoy World Heritage sites, but I want you to see daily life in Japan. It may be fun to find differences between your own country’s life and that of Japan. You may be surprised . Kyoto station has both a traditional and contemporary atmosphere. I want you to take an interest in the morning time in Kyoto Station.

Kamishichiken and its shops

by Riho Miyagi, Akane Mukai and Yuuka Yamazaki

 

Kyoto has a lot of popular sightseeing spots, for example, Kinkakuji-temple (金閣寺), Kiyomizu-temple (清水寺), and Fushimiinari-shrine (伏見稲荷大社). Speaking of famous places, do you know any essential and passionate places in Kyoto?

 

What is Kamishichiken?

Kamishichiken” is a district of northwest Kyoto. It is the oldest of the five hanamachi  in Kyoto and located east of the Kitano Tenmangu-shrine. Local people pronounce it as “Kamihichiken”. In Kanji, it means “Seven Upper Houses”. In the Muromachi Period, seven teahouses were built from tools and material leftover from the rebuilding of the Kitano Tenmangu-Shrine. Kamishichiken has many traditional wooden buildings, some of which are teahouses or geisha houses. There are approximately 25 maiko and geiko in Kamishichiken now and they entertain in 10 teahouses in Kamishichiken. It is located in Kyoto’s Nishijin area, which is famous for traditional textiles.

 

The Kamishichiken Kaburenjo Theater

The Kamishichiken kaburenjo theater, considered by many to be the main symbol of this small Geiko district, is one of the few remaining wooden theaters. The Kamishichiken kaburenjo is the largest building in Kamishichiken. It is known for the performances of Maiko. Maiko learn and practice their songs and dances here every day. Their performance takes 1.5 hours. There are 20 performers dressed in kimono. This dance performance was first held as Kitano Odori in March 1952, to commemorate the 1050th year anniversary of Sugawara-no-Michizane’s death. He was a highly ranked court noble to whom Kitano Tenmangu shrine is dedicated. It also featured the tea ceremony, where Geisha prepare bowls of Japanese tea and sweets. The performance is considered as both elite and tasteful. The Kitano Odori performance opens on March 25th and ends April 17th. In addition, from July 1st until August 31st, a beer garden is open to the public at Kamishichiken Kaburenjo Theatre and offers unique chance to be served by maiko and geiko.

 

Shops near kamishichiken

The area around Kitano Tenman-gu shrine has lots of wonderful shops and cafés. I recommend you try shaved ice with real fruit syrup in summer time at KONOHANA.  At another shop, YUSURAGO, yuzu-flavored ice is very popular. Yuzu is a fruit. produced by a tree belonging to the Citrus family and is similar to oranges, limes, lemons and grapefruit.. Another area shop is MAEDA, which is famous for baby sponge cake. Baby sponge cake can be eaten in all seasons and can be brought back home. If you want to eat Japanese sweets I recommend TENZINDO. This shop serves rice cakes, one for only 100 yen, so it’s very reasonably priced. And I really want to recommend NERIYA HACHIBE. This shop is famous for bracken-starch cake. This cake comes in two flavors: kinako (soybean flour) and matcha (powdered green tea). Matcha is now popular throughout the world, so you should try it. Kyoto is famous for tofu (soy bean curd) and yuba (bean curd skin). If you want to try one of these I really recommend TOYOUKE CHAYA. This shop is famous for tofu and yuba. you can enjoy traditional Japanese flavors at these shops.

 

Kamishichiken is not as famous as other hanamachi, but there are many interesting and fantastic shops here. Once you go, you can absolutely feel the core of Kyoto culture.

 

Kyoto’s Historical Boulevard

by Takumi Abe

Many people who visit Kyoto want to seeonly  Kiyomizu temple, Kinkakuji temple or the Ryoanji rock garden. However, when most people first arrive in Kyoto, they will see the Kyoto Tower and a wide avenue going to the north. This street has many cars, taxis and buses. Its name is Karasuma-dori, and its length is six kilometers. Karasuma street is an important and central street in Kyoto, so there are many business buildings and some temples along it.  In addition, two universities are located on Karasuma, and the Kyoto Imperial Palace flanks the avenue as well. It is an important street especially from the views of the economy, education and Japanese history.

Karasuma from 794

Kyoto city has prospered for about 1200 years so many streets in Kyoto have a long history. If you walk down Karasuma street, you can see buildings from various eras. Karasuma was constructed in the Heian period (794-1185). At that time, this road was called Karasumaru-koji street. “Koji” means small road. This street was named after a family of Heian-period aristocrats. Karasuma has been significant because among the many Fujiwara families it was the largest area where Heian aristocrats lived. The street flourished,  but it fell into ruinduring the civil war in Medieval times. After this period of battles, the street was revived by Hideyoshi Toyotomi. Due to his project, the street had many upper-class mansions, houses and stores. In  the Meiji period (1868-1912),  one of the modern Japanese periods, Kyoto Station was built at the south end of Karasuma street. As a result, this street was expanded and extended to all the way to northern Kyoto. At the same time, a streetcar started to run along the street. Today, Karasuma is in the central business district, where there are many banks and companies. Additionally, it is a gateway to Kyoto for people from various countries first arriving at Kyoto Station.

 

The gateway of Kyoto

What you can see on Karasuma

Shijo Karasuma

Shijo-Karasuma is one of the big commercial areas in the city. Many banks and insurance companies are located here. You can see the modern Japanese architecture and a long history. On the left side of the above photo of Shijo -Karasuma is the Mitsui building. This entrance was created in 1941.

Cocon Karasuma

Doshisha University

Cocon Karasuma is a commercial complex and office building. You may be fascinated by the arabesque pattern on the wall. This building was constructed in 1938, and it was recently renovated. It was not exposed the fires of war, so you can see the old-style stairs and floors inside. “Cocon,” in Japanese means both ancient and modern, so this amazing building shows the past  and the present in Kyoto.

If you continue much further north on Karasuma you will come to Doshisha University. This university was founded in 1875, and now about 27,000 students go to this school. It was established by Jyo Nijima. He was the first Japanese person to graduate from a university in the USA. He opened the door to modern education in Japan.

Toraya

If you want to eat Japanese sweets, I recommend that you go to Toraya. It has a long history, and this store has been around for nearly five centuries. From the days of old, this store made sweets for the Emperor. Its famous itme is Azuki-bean jelly. It has been loved for more than 500 years. Is is on Karasuma just southwest of Doshisha University.

Traditional culture inJapan is not only concerned with food, but there is also kadou or literally “the way of flowers”. Kadou is arranging flowers beautifully. It represents and expresses the beauty of Japan. Kadou was formed in the Muromachi era (1336-1573). It is said that it originated at the pond of Rokkakuji temple. This temple is crowded with tourists. Next to it on Karasuma is the headquarters of the Ikenobo School of Flower arrangement.

Manga museum

Moreover, people who love Japanese culture had better go to the Manga museum, which is nearby the Oike-Karasuma intersection. As the name indicates, this museum keeps more 30 thousand manga. You can read manga in the museum or in its garden. The Giga-Ukiyoe, which is a collection of funny pictures and was printed in the Edo era (1603-1867), is in the collection of the museum. Moreover, some manga housed here are from overseas. The amazing thing is that this building has been used since 1929. it used to be an elementary school, therefore you can see also the old style of Japanese school.

The street as a face of Kyoto

Kyoto Imperial Palace

Karasuma street has a long history. It is rare that you can see a story that is 1200 years long. This place has faces of traditional Japan, modern Japan and present-day Japan. You can feel a Japanese passion to create the city, protect its heritage, and reinvigorate its culture.  The street is bustling with university students and some of its cafés are filled with young power. What is more, many workers use the street to find lunch or dinner, or go shopping. In  old times, there were many people riding in a carriage or walking in kimono. Suppose you come to Karasuma—you may feel the history of Japan.

 

The best shops we selectted in Uji City

By Yu Sakamoto, Tashi Nisikawa and Kazu Shibao

There are many sightseeing spots in Kyoto, such as Amanohashidate, Uji, Fushimi Inari Shrine, etc. There are so many wonderful sightseeing places that the list of examples is endless. This is a wonderful thing about Kyoto, but some people are confused by too many sightseeing spots. If you could stay longer, you would go to various places, but not everyone can stay for a long time. I would like many people to visit so many places and have lots of good experiences. Therefore, I’d like to tell you how to enjoy sightseeing efficiently even if you stay a short while. This guidance is for Uji, which is also popular with local people. Uji has plenty of places to see the sights. I will introduce a sightseeing itinerary that does not waste time.

First of all, we will introduce the history of Uji city. Uji city is located around the beautiful, clean Uji River, and is graced with many temples and shrines, which is indicative of Uji city’s long history and rich culture. In Uji city there are two UNESCO World Heritage sites. Ujigami Shrine and Byodoin Temple were registered in December 1994. In this area. From the15th century to the 16th century, Uji city was a place of a lot of fighting where various generals fought to control Japan. Since that time, Uji city has spent many peaceful years and Uji city has become a cultural center of Japan. Uji city has many historical sights and famous cultural specialties. Also, Uji Green Tea is the best and most famous Japanese Tea. We will show you some great tea shops in this article, and please enjoy it in traditional tea houses.

At first, I recommend you to take a train as the easiest way to go to Uji. Because most of the spots of Uji that can be enjoyed are in front of the station, if you get to the station you just have fun! However, there are two Uji stations, so some people are confused. One is JR line. The other is the Keihan line. Either way you get off. Therefore, the train to ride depends on where you are. When coming from Kyoto if you are near Kyoto Station, please use JR line. If you are near Kawaramachi please use the Keihan line. Likewise, if you are coming from Osaka, you can take JR or the Keihan line.

  • When you are near Kyoto station
  1. First of all, please buy a ticket to Uji station. (240 yen for one way)
  2. Please look for the time table board for the train in the direction to Nara
  3. Once you get on the train you do not need to change trains and you will arrive at Uji station in about 20 to 30 minutes.
  • When you are near Kawaramachi
  1. First of all, please buy a ticket to Uji Station at Gion Shijo Station. (310 yen for one way)
  2. Please get down to the platform, number 2 and get on the limited express train bound for Yodoyabashi.
  3. From there, we get off after 3 stops (about 10 minutes) in Chushojima and transfer.
  4. Please go to the platform number 3 in Chushojima and get on the Keihan Uji Line and get off after 7 stops (15 minutes) in Uji.

In Uji city, there are a lot of stores. So, when you go there, you can easily become confused. Therefore, we have put together a guide to the best shops in Uji city. When you come out of the Kyohan station, you can see the bridge front of the station. You need to cross the bridge, then you can see Torii gate. Here is the start point on this guide in our article. In this point, there have two ways. Please go left side. Do not go to the Torii gate way.

 

This way.

Torii gate. Not this way.

 

 

Kyo-Food: Uji Kawa Ryokan.

 

At the very beginning, when you first enter the left side way, you can see the shop on your left. In this shop, you can enjoy the river view from the room and you can eat Kyo-food. This shop is a Ryokan (Japanese traditional style hotel), so you can stay there if you like. If you want to eat some native Kyo- food, we suggest you visit this shop.

 

 

 

Obanzai buffet: Rokujyoan.

 

Just nearby Uji Kawa Ryokan, you can find you can find an obanzai store named Rokujyoan. In this shop, you can eat obanzai. Obanzai is the word for home cooking in Kyoto dialect. You can eat different kinds of obazai food, and this shop is buffet style so you can eat many foods. This is a great place to have a lunch time. If you want to eat obanzai, we suggest you visit this shop.

 

 

 

Green Tea Takoyaki and Soft Cream Shop: Tako Q.

 

After Rokujyoan, walk straight to about 1 minute. You can see the shop. In this shop, you can have green tea, takoyaki and soft cream. Green tea takoyaki is a rare food in Japan. If you visit Uji city, you should try to eat green tea takoyaki. It will become a great memory.

 

 

 

Old Green Tea Shop: Akamon-chaya.

 

Have you ever drunk green tea beer before? At the Akamon-chaya, you can have a green tea beer. After Tako Q, walk straight to about 4 minutes. After that, you can see three ways. You need to go left side. Then you can see the shop. In this shop, you can also experience how to make green tea. This shop has an old history. This shop using a great high level green tea, so the price is little expensive. However, you can feel Japanese traditional in this shop. We will recommend drinking green tea beer. It is so sweet and you can feel green tea smells in your mouth after drinking this beer.

 

 

Byodoin Temple.

 

 

Walk straight to Uji bridge shopping street, you will see the entrance of Byodoin temple. This temple is opened at 8:30 a.m. and closed at 5:30 p.m., so do not go too late, otherwise you can’t go in.

Byodoin temple is a Buddhist temple which was built in the late Heian period, 794 to 1185. This temple is registered as a World Heritage site. Also, this temple is very famous for being on the reverse of the 10-yen coin, and the phoenix which you can find behind is on the 10000 yen-note.

In the area of Byodoin temple, there is a huge pond around the temple. There are many carp so you can feel Japan very much. Furthermore, there is a museum named Hosyokan in which you can see the history of Byodoin temple. The entrance fee is 600 yen for adults, 400 yen for junior high school students, 300 yen for elementary school students. In addition, if you would like to go inside of Byodoin temple, you need to pay 300 yen more. You might think it’s little bit expensive, but I’m for sure it’s worth it.

 

Green tea restaurant: Itokyuemon.

Walk along Uji river, you can see the restaurant named Itokyuemon just nearby Keihan Uji station. This restaurant is very famous for maccha, and at this restaurant we ate maccha soba, maccha cheese tart with hoji tea jelly and maccha parfait. You can smell maccha very much from each meal but especially Maccha soba. You think these two don’t match well but once you eat this soba you will change your opinion. Also, the maccha plus cheese tart is quite unique combination as well. Taste of maccha is very rich and creamy. Apparently, a famous TV show reported this maccha cheese tart. Furthermore, this maccha parfait is one of the best maccha parfaits I’ve ever had. The price is 680 yen, so it’s very reasonable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you find any interesting store?? This is our best way to experience Uji. In addition, there are a lot of other interesting stores or spots in Uji. It’s maybe good idea that have a look around while referring our article. Anyway, enjoy your Kyoto trip!

Tsukemono

by Sakina Nishitsuji, Nami Shinkado and Shiho Tojo

We will introduce about tsukemono. Tsukemono are Japanese-style pickles. Vegetables are pickled in salt, rice brain, miso or sake lees. They are served with rice as a side dish and with drinks as a snack. Tsukemono are beloved by many people in Japan. You can buy them pretty much everywhere in Japan. If you go to a supermarket, you will find them. There are various kinds. For example, takuan (daikon), umeboshi (ume plum), turnip, cucumber, and Chinese cabbage are among the favorites to be eaten with rice as an accompaniment to a meal. Some Japanese people make tsukemono by themselves. The easiest way of making tsukemono is just putting the vegetables with salt into a Ziploc bag. Roughly cut some vegetables of your choice and put them in a Ziploc bag, then add salt and kelp dashi stock and shake the bag. You release the air from the bag to make a lightly vacuum state in the bag and then stick it in the refrigerator for one or two hours. It is complete. This recipe for this preparation is simple but the tsukemono are delicious. Tsukemono are also popular with foreigners, not just Japanese people. And Kyoto has many specialty shops of tsukemono, so you can buy some kinds of tsukemono at Kyoto. It is really great for souvenirs. Tsukemono is known by most people, but they may not know the particulars about tsukemono. Tsukemono has a long history. So, below, we will introduce about the history of tsukemono, three major tsukemono outlets in Kyoto, and how to make tsukemono.

History of Tsukemono in Japan

Tsukemono have a long history in Japan.  Japan is surrounded by the seas, and it was a longstanding practice that food was preserved in salt or with salt water. Not only vegetables but also nuts, meat and fish were preserved with salt in order times. The origin of the tsukemono is not known for sure. However, when vegetables were not yet farmed, it is possible that people soaked the edible wild plants such as Japanese parsley or the bracken in seawater.

We do know that Chinese also used salt to preserve food. It was written that there was something like tsukemono in the old book called by the Chinese, “Shurei“. From 2000 years ago, it is said that a method to preserve food in salt was performed. As the times advanced, the tsukemono developed more, but came to be called “pickled vegetables” because the fragrance of the tsukemono improved when the Muromachi Era began, in 1336, by fermenting. Not only were tsukemono liked as side dishes and the tea cake of the meal, but also pickled plums came to be used in the sterilization of the wounds in the battlefield to prevent bacterial infection and blood poisoning. The Muromachi Era was an age of civil strife. And in Edo era, beginning in 1603, the tsukemono shop called the pickled vegetables shop appeared. From this era, tsukemono came to be eaten by the people at large. In addition, the kinds of vegetables grown in Japan increased, and during the Edo Era, beginning in 1603, many merchants came from all over the country to study some techniques and innovations in seasoning and how to make tsukemono. In the Meiji Era, beginning in 1868, Takuanduke and Naraduke became the important side business in the farmhouses in the suburbs of major cities, including Tokyo. During Taisho Era, from 1912, and the Showa Era, from 1926, the pickle manufacturing industry developed into a major commercial business. Recently, an important point is focus on the health. Fermented foods, according to recent scientific research, are important for intestinal health. That information made tsukemono even more desirable all over Japan.

 

Three Popular Varieties of Tsukemono

There are 3 famous kinds of tsukemono in Kyoto. One is Shiba-zuke. Shiba-zuke are made of eggplant, perilla leaves and cucumber pickled in natural lactic fermentation. Shiba-zuke vegetables are sprinkled with salt and are matured in a barrel for some months. Shiba-zuke was first made in the latter half of Edo period, about 300 to 150 years ago. A second kind of popular pickled vegetables is senmai-zuke. It is pickled turnip. Senmai-zuke which are sold in supermarkets are traditional pickles in Kyoto and are produced by marinating paper-thin slices of turnips with pieces of kelp, red peppers and vinegar. The third type of pickles is Suguki-zuke. Suguki-zuke is made of suguki, a kind of tunip, pickled with its own leaves. It is a kind of pickle which preserves both the leaf and the root of the Brassica campestris in salt. It features clear acidity. Recently, it gradually has become famous as a health food around the world. These pickles are called three best tsukemono in Kyoto.

The Old Tsukemono Shops of Kyoto

“Kyotsukemono” or Kyoto style Tsukemono includes various kinds of pickles. Pickles are available in many places but there are 5 famous old shops in Kyoto which still the. The first is Daitou. It is the shop which is the birthplace of the senmai-zuke. This shop was built in 1865. It has long history for about 150 years. Senmai-zuke is very popular in Daitou. The reason is rich taste. The second shop is Murakamiju. It is the shop which became the model of the pickle shop when it appeared in the NHK drama “Kyohutari” broadcast in 1990. The third shop is Akaoya. This shop is the oldest of them all. It was built in 1699. It has been making pickles and history for over 300 years. Pickles in Akaoya are made with a moderate amount of salt. The next shop is Narita. It is famous for suguki-zuke. It was built in 1804. The traditional taste continues now. Finally, there is Kinse. This shop was built in 1764. There are various pickles in Kinse. At Kinse, they do not use any preservatives or additives. On the other hand, this shop also makes an effort in new product development.

In conclusion, tsukemono were called the Chinese “Shurei” in long time ago.

After having passed for years, that name changed from “Shurei” to “pickled vegetables”, and it gradually became famous in Japan. Nowadays, many people buy tsukemono. There are 3 famous tsukemono, Shiba-zuke, senmai-zuke, and suguki-zuke in Kyoto. Speciality shops of tsukemono are long established businesses in Kyoto. For example, Daitou, Murakamiju, and Kinse.  These shops are very popular among Japanese people and foreigners. If you want to eat tsukemono, we recommend that you visit Kyoto.

Cafe

By Shiho Tojo, Nami Shinkado and Sakina Nishitsuji

A cafe is a type of restaurant which usually serves coffee and snacks.

The term “cafe” comes from French, and means “coffee”. A cafe is sometimes called a coffeehouse or a coffee shop in English. A Japanese person opened a coffee specialty shop in Japan. It hired barista. A barista stands at the counter of the bar, and receives orders from visitors, and pours the coffee or espresso. That style is known by most people. The famous shop is Starbucks. It is also popular all over the world. In some countries, cafe is closer to restaurants, because cafe is able to provide customers with hot meals, and alcohol. However, British cafes do not sell alcohol. In Japan, the first coffee shop was opened at the end of the Meiji period at Minou city in Osaka. Cafes have improved year by year. There are many cafes all over the world. If you want to relax sometimes, you can go to a cafe and relax there. You can talk with your partner or friends in the cafe. Recently, people can pick up a lot of new information from SNS. People take nice pictures, and post them on the Internet. Especially, Instagram can be connected to many people. We would like to introduce some cafes  in Kyoto. These are really talked about cafes now in SNS.

MACCHA HOUSE

MACCHA HOUSE is one of the most famous cafes in Kyoto. It was built recently. Customers have to wait for about 2 hours every day, because it has a matrix in front of shop. The shop is really popular in Kyoto among young people. MACCHA HOUSE recommends maccha tiramisu to customers. They also seek it. It is really delicious and give a fun impression. Its price is 500 yen. So you can eat it for a reasonable cost. There are many items on the menu as well as maccha tiramisu. For example, green tea, ho-ji cha tiramisu, and maccha parfait. If you visit Kyoto, you should visit MACCHA HOUSE, and eat maccha tiramisu with your friends.

Location

It is near Kawaramachi station. It takes about 3 minutes by walking from exit 3B.

JOUVENCELLE

This cafe is one of the famous cafes in Kyoto.  JOUVENCELLE was built on Oike-street at the time of the Gion Festival in 1988. JOUVENCELLE means “maiden” in French. This cafe uses the seasonal ingredients. This cafe reserves many Japanese confectioneries to customers. It is very popular as an experience of Kyoto.

Location

It is near Karasumaoike station. It is about a two minute walk from exit 1.

GREEN TEA FONDUE

Green tea fondue is the most popular sweet in this cafe. The other popular dishes are pound cake, Dango and other Japanese sweets. Another dish is banana, strawberry, baked orange, sweet potato and Warabi-Mochi. A popular drink served here is chocolate flavored with green tea. It is a little hot and smells of green. Bitterness of the powdered green tea offset the sweetness of the chocolate.
It looks beautiful and cute. So, this cafe is very famous among young people. Green tea fondue is about 1500 yen. You can enjoy eating it.

Location

This cafe is about 100 meters south of south tower gate of Yasaka.

IPPODO-CAFE

Ippodo is a famous shop of Japanese tea in Kyoto. It sells just Japanese tea. Tea is good for the health. Every year, the flavor of tea changes with the temperature. However, this cafe blends their tea so that the taste does not change. In addition, to its café, Ippodo has a classroom and a shop. Classes are held at Ippodo. People can learn how to drink tea with proper manners and rituals, and learn about Japanese tea more deeply. Ippodo-cafe is in the head office. Everyone makes tea by himself or herself in this cafe. Customers can order green tea, gyokuro, gen-tea, ho-ji tea and genmai-tea. These Japanese teas all have different tastes. Each tea has a different level of bitterness. The important points are how to drink, temperature, quantity of the tea leaf and time to brew. Ippodo’s staff tell the customers how to make each tea. People can drink tea with Japanese sweets. You can go with family or friends or just by yourself. There is a menu in English, for the convenience of foreign visitors to Kyoto who come to this cafe. So, foreign people can have a good time. This cafe also has take-out available. The design of the take-out cup is so cute. If you ever visit Kyoto, I recommend visiting Ippodo.

Location

Ippodo is near Kyoto Shiyakushomae Station. It takes about 5 minutes to walk there from the station. There are some antique stores and galleries on this street and people can feel Kyoto.

There are many cafes in Kyoto. Sightseeing spots in Kyoto have many green tea shops. That is because Kyoto is really famous for Maccha within Japan. Particularly popular are Maccha HOUSE, JOUVENCELLE, and Ippodo. Maccha HOUSE is famous for Maccha tiramisu. JOUVENCELLE is famous for green tea fondue, Ippodo is famous for Japanese tea. As for the popular key points, desserts of those cafes are not only tasty but also beautiful to look at. The appearance of these shops is fashionable and there are English menus for foreign tourists.
Nowadays, Maccha is popular all over the world. Maccha is green tea powder. Japanese green tea can be bought from some supermarkets, vending machines, and also in most Japanese tea shops. Recently, Japanese green tea is becoming well known around the world. Japanese green tea shops became famous in Twitter and Instagram. Many people visit cafes in Kyoto and eat a dessert made of Maccha. They also take a stylish picture of food and put down that photo on SNS. After that some other people see that picture on SNS. The popularity of these cafes has spread a lot thanks to SNS.
However, you must line up for approximately two hours on weekdays if you want to visit there, thanks to the popularity. This is a problem caused by popularity and widespread use of SNS. However, people never stop lining up. In this way, the cafe of Kyoto is popular with people from around the world who are able to feel at ease, and able to enjoy an atmosphere only in Kyoto. It is pleasant to visit the cafe of Kyoto on an occasion of the sightseeing of Kyoto. Please try and go.

Touring Kyoto by Rental Cycle

By Kensei Iizuka, Yuta Kobayashi and Takanori Tsuhako

As you know, in Kyoto, there are a lot of attractive places. However, how do you visit such nice places? Do you use buses or trains? Now, let us introduce the most active and flexible way to move around Kyoto: by rental cycle.

In Kyoto, there are many rental cycle shops and you can rent a bicycle for one day, which costs somewhere between 1 and 2 thousand yen. Optionally, you can rent a sport-type bicycle, a power-assisted bicycle, or child’s bicycle.

Merits of Using Rental Cycles

There are many merits of using rental cycles. First, it is the most active way to move around Kyoto. For example, if you like athletics, it is the best way to sightsee. Second, it is the most flexible. While you are sightseeing, you don’t have to worry about time like you do when taking the bus and/or train. Therefore, you can simply enjoy the places you like and just forget about the clock. In addition, because of its flexibility, you can enjoy Kyoto by going wherever you want to go. For example, you can bike down interesting Kyoto-like back alleys, encounter a temple which suddenly appears in front of you, or stumble across a friendly café. You can discover places which are not written in guide books, while choosing your destinations with your own senses.

Cautions

Pay attention to the seasons. If you come to Kyoto in the spring or autumn, you can enjoy your bicycle tour because you can feel a comfortable wind and see great cherry blossoms (in the spring) or red and yellow leaves (in the autumn). However, if you come to Kyoto in the summer or winter, you must pay attention to the temperature. In the summer, it is very hot and muggy, so you should be careful about heatstroke. And in winter, it is too cold to ride a bike, so you must wear warm clothes, a scarf and some gloves. At last, we don’t recommend renting a bicycle in June because it is the rainy season in Japan. You will get wet.

Places to Rent Bicycles

In Kyoto, there are many places to rent bikes. It is easy to access if your hotel is near the rental shop. Some shops are near the train stations. For example, here are some popular stores around Kyoto station:

Kyoto Eco Trip (http://www.kyoto-option.com/english/)

Kyoto Cycling Tour Project (KCTP) (http://www.kctp.net/pc/en/)

Kyoto Miyabiya (http://k-miyabiya.jp/index.html)

Fuune (http://miyakoshiki.wixsite.com/mysite)

How to Rent / Return

Renting a bike is easy. For example, we rented some bikes at Kyoto Eco Trip, near Kyoto station. You can reach it in five minutes after getting off the train. First, at the desk, a staff member gave instructions to us. Then, we could choose the type of bicycle and the plan. Some places rent an electric bike, which is a little bit more expensive than a normal bike, but you can ride it easily. It is necessary to show your I.D. card in order to rent a bike.

There are various kinds of plans by stores. It is good for you to choose a store by looking carefully at the plan. You pay in advance, but if you end up renting it longer than you had planned, you can pay the difference when you return. It’s convenient, isn’t it?

After paying the rental fee, the staff will bring you a bike and explain how to use it. The shop we rented from uses a dial type of key. You can decide whatever numbers you want to use. We also received some ice-cold bottled water for our journey. It was a very hot day, so we were really happy about that.

Famous Spots around Kyoto Station

Toji temple

One of the main symbols of Kyoto is Toji Temple, located in Minami-ku, which was registered as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994. When you are just about to arrive at Kyoto station by a bullet train, you can see this five-storied pagoda from the south side window of your train. It only takes about 7 minutes on bicycle to arrive at Toji Temple from Kyoto station.

Kyoto Aquarium

There is a modern aquarium to the west of Kyoto Station, which was established in 2012 inside Umekozi Park. This is the first aquarium to use complete artificial seawater to keep displays beautiful in Japan. 15,000 different kinds of fish and animals are put on display there, such as the Japanese Giant Salamander (Andrias Japonicus), which is designated as a special natural monument, and which lives in the local Kamogawa River. There are also various kinds of penguins, dolphins, and fish there. It is only a 10-minute bicycle ride from Kyoto station.

 

Kyoto Railway museum

There are two hot spots in Umekozi Park, one is the Kyoto Aquarium and the other is the Kyoto Railway Museum. This museum is newer than the aquarium, and opened in 2016. There is the largest of Japan’s train museums. You can see many different kinds of trains there, for example a retired 0 series shinkansen. Also, you can take a short ride on an old steam locomotive. How special? It is also 10-minute bicycle from Kyoto station.

Nishihonganji temple

Hideyoshi Toyotomi, who is the famous builder of Osaka castle, established this temple in 1591. Inside the temple, a lot of traditional buildings and gardens representing the Azuchimomoyama Era are there. This temple is also registered as a World Heritage Site in 1994. It is approximately 3 minutes by bicycle from Kyoto station.

Higashihonganji temple

This temple is placed in almost in front of Kyoto station and you can reach it even on foot in 5 minutes. Furthermore, the shape of temple is very similar to that of Nishihonganji temple, and these temples are very close to one antoher. It can be fun for visitors to examine the differences between them.

Shoseien

Shoseien is a completely sophisticated and beautiful garden located in middle of the city. Although you are in the city, you can see brilliant green trees and shaped pond as soon as you enter. You can calm down and relax with a tweeting of birds in the garden. Also, you can view Kyoto Tower, which is a main symbol of Kyoto from the garden. It looks like a strange landscape, but it is actually wonderful. It is only a 7-minute bicycle from Kyoto Station.

Kyoto Tower

Kyoto Tower stands just in front of Kyoto station and is the highest building in Kyoto city. It was built in 1964. This is an important spot for visitors to get souvenirs from a complete range of souvenir shops and can enjoy local foods in the surrounding restaurants. At the top of the tower, you can see the whole landscape of Kyoto. It is a valuable spot to see other famous places from a high point.

Model Tour

After arriving at Kyoto station, go to the Hachijo-guchi exit (South Gate). A few minutes’ of walking will bring you to Kyoto Eco Trip. Check in and rent a bike; then your trip has started. First, go to Toji temple. It is in a south-west direction from Kyoto Eco Trip. You can get a map at Kyoto Eco Trip, so you can ride around without getting lost. It takes about 10 minutes from Eco Trip to Toji Temple. Park your bike near the car parking lot. If you are not sure, just ask the staff. If you park on the road, your bike might be removed by the authorities. In Kyoto, the places which you park your bike are basically free. Some places are only free for a few hours, so be careful about it.

Next, to go to Umekoji Park by heading north. It takes only five minutes to reach the park. There you can enjoy the Kyoto Aquarium and the Kyoto Railway Museum, too. There are a lot of nice restaurants near there as well. We decided to visit a sushi restaurant for lunch, which was delicious.

After taking a rest and eating your fill, move on to Nishihonganji and Higashihonganji temples. It only takes about 10 ~ 15 minutes to get there. Seisyoen is also near Higashihonganji. You can feel the real Kyoto spirit there. After feeling Kyoto, you can visit Yodobashi Camera and buy anything you want. There are a lot of restaurants there, too. You can also visit Kyoto Tower while you are at it. Finally, go back to Kyoto Eco Trip, give your bike back and end your trip. What a great day!

Kurotaniwashi

by Mayumi Otsuka, Mai Takezawa and Kanako Wakamatsu

Have you heard of the traditional paper craft in Japan? It is called washi. Paper craft is one of the important Japanese traditional arts. There are several styles of paper craft in Japan, such as tosawashi in Kochi, obarawashi in Aichi, and narushimawashi in Iwate. Kurotaniwashi, however, is the famous paper craft of Kyoto. Kurotaniwashi is often referred to as “The most beautiful paper craft in Japan.” In this article, we will explain to you all about kurotaniwashi: its history, how it is made, and its use in popular souvenirs.

Kurotaniwashi

 

History of Kurotaniwashi

Kurotaniwashi has a very long history, starting over 800 years ago. Surviving soldiers of the Heike clan had escaped from Genzi pursuers and had hidden in a village in a mountain valley. Those surviving soldiers started papermaking as a livelihood. Since then, that village became famous for papermaking, as most of the villagers are took part in papermaking process in one form or another. The name of the village was “Kurotanimura” so the paper craft came to be named kurotaniwashi.

Originally, kurotaniwashi was used in the making of various practical tools for living, such as lights and sliding doors made with paper and wood. However, at the beginning of Edo period, kurotaniwashi began to gradually be used in not only tools for living, but also in works of art and in artistic ways. The reason is that the village was close to Kyoto and the paper was of very high quality. Some of main products of Kurotaniwashi in Edo era was related to Kyo-gohuku. Kyo-gohuku is generally point to textile product that made by silk fiber. After the Meiji period, the silk industry took off and began to develop rapidly. Therefore, the demand of the products made with silk increased. With developing of the silk industry, demand of the product for cocoon bag became high. Cocoon bag is necessary tool for raise silkworm for that silk, and that cocoon bag are mostly made by paper. As you can see, kurotaniwashi was used for art products and industrial products, but nowadays it is frequently used for daily products. For example, some post cards and letter paper are made from kurotaniwashi. In this way, the culture of using craft paper became more widely known and practiced in Japan. Eventually, kurotaniwashi came to be designated as an intangible cultural property of Kyoto prefecture. Over the years, several large fires have occurred in the village. During those fires, some of the most important historical documents were burned, so it was difficult to determine the details of its origins. Nevertheless, it is said that kurotaniwashi is the oldest type of paper that exists now in Japan.

How to Make Kurotaniwashi

Kurotaniwashi is made from Paper Mulberry (broussonetia papyrefera), a kind of tree that is called kouzo in Japanese. It grows to a height of over 3 meters. The first step is to harvest the wood. They cut down the tree without leaves in the winter. Next, they put the wood in a big barrel and steam it in a furnace for 3 hours. The part of the process is called kagomushi in Japanese. “Kago” means basket, and “Mushi” means steam in English. After that, the craftsman starts de-barking the trees, a process called kagohegi in Japanese. Hegi means ‘bark’ or ‘peel’ in English, and is a kind of local dialect. The craftsman removes the bark to expose the white tree bark inside and they cook it with alkali water for an hour. After that, put the kouzo in cold water to eliminate any remaining lye and soil. This stage of the process is called midashi in Japanese. After that, they smash the wood into pulp, similar to the way of making rice cakes from steamed rice. It is called dakai in Japanese. After dakai, the wood has now become a pulp of small fibers. They then mix the pulp with water and glue, then start creating sheets by pasting the pulp on a special wood board with a brush. This final stage is called kamitsuke in Japanese. Thus, kurotaniwashi is made by drying with natural air.

The countryside region of Kyoto Tango is very famous for a long time, because there are very suit for growing good kozo (paper mulberry) that is the main material. In addition, there are Kurotani river that has very clear water. Therefore, the water of Kurotani river is perfect for making Kurotaniwashi. People who are papermaker use only natural materials. However, people who know about the way of making Kurotaniwashi and are able to make Kurotaniwashi is decreasing, so we have to protect the way of making Kurotaniwashi that is one of the Japanese traditional.

Kurotani

 

Kurotaniwashi Souvenirs

In Kyoto there are many traditional products sold as souvenirs, some of which are made with kurotaniwashi. For example, you can buy something simple, like just kurotaniwashi paper for 600-800 yen. Other products made with kurotaniwashi are letter paper, post cards, envelops, notebooks, book covers, cushion covers, and so on. These products have a traditional texture, so they are very tough. Therefore, they are capable of long term use. They become charm of kurotaniwashi. even they become too old.

Kurotaniwashi Shops

Kyoto Washi Koubou

Kyoto Washi Koubou is a store with some souvenirs made with kurotaniwashi. You can buy online. At the site, you can learn more detail about the history of kurotaniwashi, as well as buy some traditional products online. In addition, you can make your own kurotaniwashi by designing their color or pattern.

TEL: 0773-42-9810

http://www.aspa.or.jp/washi/

Kurotaniwashi Kaikann

The “Kurotaniwashi Kaikann” is a store and studio of kurotaniwashi. It is not open Saturday and Sunday. You can buy kurotaniwashi souvenir at the store. If you reserve on the Internet before the day you go to the store, you can try making kurotaniwshi.

TEL: 0773−44−0213

Time: 9:00~16:30

E-mail: kyoto.ayabe@kurotaniwashi.jp

Making Kurotaniwashi

 

Conclusion

The paper craft that was born in Kurotani village is called kurotaniwashi, and it is the famous paper art of Kyoto. It is said that it is the most beautiful and oldest paper craft in Japan. Kurotaniwashi has a very long history from 800 years ago, and it is made by the special skill of craftsman using natural ingredients, such as the pristine Kurotani river water. You can not only buy kurotaniwashi, but also make it on your own in Kyoto. It will be a nice souvenir and may become a special memory of you in Kyoto. Why don’t you try it?