Doi-Master Picklers Of Kyoto

December 15, 2016

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Have you ever tried Japanese style pickles? If you imagine they are like foreign pickles, you would be wrong, because they are very different. Nowadays, there are many pickles in the supermarket, but the pickles in this shop are much nicer compared to them. “Doi no Shibazuke” (Doi’s Pickles) might be the perfect Kyoto souvenir for your relatives or friends.

 

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Doi-master pickles shop

Doi no Shibazuke is one of the most well-known pickle making companies, and is famous for its shibazuke. It has a very long history and has been loved by many people for years.  The company was founded in Ohara, Kyoto, in 1901.  Ohara is a famous red perilla (Japanese basil) growing area, and is the birthplace of shibazuke, which are pickled summer vegetables.

 

Mr.Doi

Mr.Doi

The first CEO of the company wanted many people to know about shibazuke, so he founded this company there, first of all selling tsukemono (regular pickles) just in front of the family home. After years of struggle, they finally managed to build the main store in Ohara, and thereafter opened more branches, one after the other, throughout Kyoto.  Now, they currently have 15 stores including a sub-branch in a department store. There are also branches in 6 other prefectures: Osaka, Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, Fukuoka, and Kagoshima.  This company has only had five presidents in its history, and the current Mr. Doi is the 5th CEO of the firm.  He has worked at Doi no Shibazuke as a staff member since he graduated college, and in 2001, when the company celebrated its 100th anniversary, he was inaugurated as the new CEO.

 

 

Doi no Shibazuke has their own farm for growing perilla leaf, and the reason for this is that they can have greater control over the taste of the product. They grow perilla leaf from seed, so they can have the same level of quality year on year.  They don’t use agricultural chemicals to grow their perilla and use a cultivation method that is more than 800 years old.  From June to July is generally the season for growing perilla leaf, but they extend their growing beyond this to make sure they can provide more pickles. DSC_0704

Importantly, Doi’s way of making shibazuke is to use eggplants only, and not cucumber. A cheaper way to make shibazuke is to use cucumber instead of eggplant because it reduces the cost and the process is easier, but Doi insist on eggplant for the sake of quality.

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First they get the best eggplants from their partner farms. Secondly, they use a machine to chop the eggplant into smaller pieces.  Thirdly, the employees hop into a big wooden barrel containing the eggplant, fine perilla leaves and salt, and then tread the mixture

with their feet, just like they do with grapes for wine making. The reason they tread the eggplant mixture is to help retain the taste and smell of the vegetable.  If they don’t tread it, the good smell will disseminate and the great taste of the perilla will not be mixed in.

Finally, the mixture, along with added ginger, is packed into a wooden barrel and left to ferment for around one month, with a large stone placed on the barrel lid to seal everything in.  Every year, this company makes 120 huge wooden barrels full of pickles and keeps them for shipment.  Overall, they produce an average of 200 tons of pickles in a year, so in the busy period they can make up to one ton of pickles a day.

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So where can you buy them? Doi no Shibazuke has 6 shops in Kyoto, and they are also sold in department stores in Japan, so you should be able to locate them easily.  If you do have a problem hunting them down though, you can also buy them on the Internet. (http://www.doishibazuke.co.jp/)

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The best 3 tsukemono are; shibazuke (475 yen), senmaizuke, which is made from radish and tastes slightly sweet (691 yen), and assorted tsukemono, which offers a variety of different pickles (2,025 yen).   When you buy pickles on the internet, there are some different assortments that are very special and cost around 4,000 or 5,000 yen.  We are sure if you buy these for your family or friends they will be really happy.  The shop manager also told us a good way to eat pickles is to put them on a cracker with some cheese.  Japanese pickles also go well with pasta as a topping, and some match well with certain wines.

 

Japanese pickles are not like foreign pickles, and this company is a much nicer shop compared to other shops. They have their own farm, grow their own perilla leaves, and make pickles on the premises.  If you plan to come to Kyoto, we really recommend you visit and buy some pickles at Doi no Shibazuke – an Ohara and Kyoto tradition.

(permission to use photos given by Mr. Doi)

 

 

 

Oimatsu and Ohta Toru—Preserving a Kyoto Legacy

By Shiori Iwawaki, Mina Ito, and Hinako Uematsu

Wagashi

Wagashi

Did you know that Japanese sweets are taking over the world? They are colorful and beautiful and often eaten with a cup of green tea. We would like to introduce wagashi. Most wagashi consists of a combination of some or all of the following ingredients; azuki bean paste called anko, a fiber-rich gelatin called kanten, and a special type of Japanese sugar called wasambon. Wagashi is becoming known all over the world because it is unique, beautiful, has a long history and many shops.

A Very Short History of Wagashi

Ohta Teru

Ohta Teru

The origin of wagashi dates back to the Yayoi Era. Wagashi was influenced by the skills that people learned from China after the 7th century. At that time, Buddhist culture entered Japan during the Nara Era, and people started to make mochi(steamed and pounded glutinous rice cakes) and dango (rice-flour dumplings).Also yokan and manjuwere introduced from China during the 12th to 16th centuries. However, these were used for religious purposes. Japanese sweets became more common during the late Muromachi Erawhen Japan was had trade with Portugal and Spain, these countries introduced new recipes to Japan. However, the art of making wagashi became very refined during the early Edo Era. Back then there was great competition among sweet businesses in Kyoto and Edo, as well as in other regions. Wagashi was still expensive for average people, but gradually they came to afford them. Wagashi started to appear in tea ceremonies, as afternoon snacks, and gifts. During the Meiji Era, Western cakes and desserts came to Japan. These influenced the development of wagashi. Although wagashi has been influenced by foreign cultures up through today, it has always retained the Japanese sense of beauty.

Wagashi Oimatsu

Oimathu

Oimathu

Nowadays there are many wagashi shops in Kyoto. One of them is the traditional shop called “Oimatsu.” Oimatsu was established in 1904 and there are three branches in Kyoto ―Kyoto Kitano Kamigyoku, Arashiyama and Daimaru Kyoto.In the Kitano shop, there are about 43 employees and in the Arashiyama shop there are about 10 employees. We interviewed the head of the company, the fourth generation to run this shop, Toru Ohta. He is a leader who protects Kyoto tradition and Kyoto sweets.

Through talking with him, we could find out many interesting things that we could not find on the Internet. Oimatsu has about 120 varieties of wagashi and an average of five custom orders per day. This shop has the greatest variety of wagashi in Kyoto, and Oimatsu offers wagashi that other shops don’t have. One example is honbuku iwai. This type of sweet is often given people who have recovered from illness. However it has been sold only one time within the past 20 years. Many people ask Oimatsu, “why don’t you stop making this,” but Mr. Ohta said if Oimastu stop making this kind of wagashi then it would be gone from Japan. Even though they make the some wagashi that do not sell so well, their average sales per year is five hundred and forty million yen.

In Oimatsu, they make wagashi by hand, never using machines, so they just make it when they get an order. There is a difference in purchases between Japanese and foreigners. Japanese purchase wagashi for tea-ceremony sweets, and for foreigners, they want to bring cute wagashi samples back to their own countries.

We asked what is the secret of making wagashi delicious? Then Mr. Ohta told us that his core staff study about ingredients, classics, art and go to places where the ingredients are made with their employees. So Oimatsu could continue long time and many customers love this shop.

However, Oimatsu also faces serious problems. The management of Toru Ohta’s father was very bad, so the shop was almost closed down, but Mr. Ohta succeeded in rebuilding the business. As the head of the company he has tried keeping the place where employees can work happily and remember each employee’s face.

Oimatsu has a strength that other shops don’t. Every employee in Oimatsu can make wagashi even though they are just selling a package wagashi in Kyoto Daimaru, but they can also make wagashi. It is because when customer comes to consultation about wagashi, they can write a recipe or draw a sketch. Mr. Ohta said that he doesn’t think about just sales, but just tries to protect traditional culture with creative ideas. Moreover, wagashi connect peoples so he would like to spread wagashi culture all over the world.

In side of Oimasu

In side of Oimasu

In this research, we could find how wagashi became popular in Japan and the feelings of a man who is concerned with it. We are very proud of such a person like Mr. Ohta who is trying to keep our Japanese culture. We hope that wagashi will continue spreading all over the world.

The Treasures of Japanese Taste—Dashi 

 by Shoko Ota & Yukari Kimura

Kombu (kelp, sea cabbage)

Kombu (kelp, sea cabbage)

Katsuo-Bushi (dried bonito)

Katsuo-Bushi (dried bonito)

 

 

 

The new Popularity of Japanese Food

 

Recently, the number of tourists who are visiting Japan have been on the rise. Japanese food is becoming famous worldwide as a healthy cuisine. One of the basic tastes of Japanese cuisine comes from dashi, which is stock for soup and sauces.

 

 What is “Dashi”?

 

Simply, “dashi” means Japanese soup stock. There are many different kinds of soup stocks that are used around the world. Japanese Soup stock doesn’t use any animal products, however, instead it uses products from the sea: katsuo-bushi (dried bonito) and kombu (kelp). These are important tastes in Japanese food culture. Other alternatives that are sometimes used in soup stocks are mushroom, beans, and other dried fish.

 

How to make “Dashi”

 

Althjough fairly simple, it is said that to make a real good dashi is very difficult and only very skilled cooks can make it. The way of filtering dashi is the same as making coffee. It’s very simple and easy for beginners. It takes only 1-2 minutes to make authentic dashi (first soup). You can also change the thickness of dashi as you like.

 

1. Set up the filter and put in packs of dried bonito, dried tuna and dried kelp into the cup.

 

2. Pour in hot water and cover the top (about 500cc). Wait 1-2 minutes

 

3. Place the dripper over another cupp. Dashi will automatically filter into the cup.

 

Source: Dashi Atelier Soutatsu Products Catalog

 

 

 The Difference between Western Japan and Eastern Japan

 

Did you know Japanese people often use dashi in cooking, and the ingredients differ from place to place? Traditionally, in Eastern Japan dashi is made from katsuobushi. Once it is mixed in udon (a type of noodle dish), the color becomes dark brown and has a taste like soy sauce. Whereas in Western Japan, dashi is made from kombu. Again, when the dashi is mixed in udon, the color becomes yellow, and has a little salty taste.

 

How did this difference occur?

 

Although there are various reasons why this difference in dashi occurred, basically it comes down to the main types of fish use in the regions: western = white meat fish; and eastern = red meat fish. From the history of Eastern Japan, people ate red meat fish very frequently. For example, skipjack and sardine are types of akami (red meat). The taste is known to be very greasy. This is why people from eastern Japan like strong taste. Nevertheless in western Japan, people have been eating white meat fish all the time. For example, herring and Pacific cod are types of shiromi (white meat). The taste is light and simple. Furthermore, Western Japanese people eat it on a daily basis. This is the reason why people from western Japan do not like strong tastes.

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Bonus fact

Did you know that long, long ago in Japan, the capital in Japan was Kyoto? Of course back then, the distribution of foods to Kyoto flourished. For example, since Hokkaido’s sea cucumber is known to be the most delicious in Japan, a lot of fresh, delicious sea cucumbers were delivered to Kyoto before Tokyo. Therefore, many good quality sea cucumbers were consumed by Kyoto people. Since the transportation technology was not very advanced as it is today, it was very difficult to send products across the Pacific Ocean. If products were sent by land, it would take a long time to get to Tokyo from Kyoto. As a result, the freshness will decrease enormously. This means perhaps the sea cucumber was unpleasant once it arrived.

 

 

Special Thanks:

だし工房宗達京都店 (Dashi Atelier Soutatsu Kyoto store)

 Address: 〒604-8115, 京都市中京区蛸薬師通堺町東入雁金町375-4

OPEN: 11:00~19:00

CLOSED: Tuesday, Wednesday

Candy Culture in Kyoto

by Akane Kitakido and Narumi Kitagawa

Candy has been loved by Japanese people for many generations, and is a great representation of traditional Japanese culture. Most people might imagine that candy is a solid, sweet, and circular thing. However, Japanese candy used to be in liquid form for a long time, and people used to use candy as a kind of seasoning. These interesting facts are reflected by the origin of candy in Japan.

One of the main ingredients of traditional Japanese candy was liquid from ivy, so it was mostly a sweet syrup. For this reason, candy was used as not only a sweet seasoning, but also as a precious source of nutrients. After refined sugar came to Japan from abroad, the candy culture quickly developed. At that time, it was considered to be a classy and expensive food.

In Kyoto, a unique way to enjoy candy appeared. It was called sculptured candy. It is said that a candy craftsman made a special red and white colored candy to present as an offering to a temple. Gradually, many craftsmen competed in the design and beauty of their sculptured candy with creative ideas. Even now, sculptured candy is developing more and more in wonderful ways, and some of them capture the eyes – and tongues – of the world.

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Kinds of Candy

The single word ‘candy’ covers many shapes when it comes to Japanese candy. The most basic one is called tamamono. Sometimes people call it tamaame or teppoutama. ‘Tama’ means ‘sphere’ in Japanese. When we hear the word ‘candy’, everyone will imagine this spherical, round candy. There are single colored ‘tamamono’, which come in six or seven different colors. The most colorful one is called temariame because it looks like a temari, which is a traditional Japanese ball used as a toy since the Edo period (1608-1868).

Another kind of candy is kumiame. It comes from the word kumu, which means ‘to assemble’ in Japanese. This candy is made by assembling many kinds of ingredients. In this way, a complicated design like a pattern or flower, or a character’s face can appear on the surface of the candy. By changing the way to we set the candy during production, we can make a lot of designs on each candy. These candies are made from sugar and starch syrup. After stewing at 160 degrees centigrade, flavor and pigment is added, followed by kneading. While it is still hot, it is cut and made into a desired shape.

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A Wonderful Shop: Nanaco Plus+

Nanaco Plus+ is a shop that sells accessories made from traditional Japanese candy. It respects the changing seasons that Japanese people have cherished throughout history to create their unique and modern crafts. Not only candy, but all of the Japanese sweets have sense of seasons because they show the beauty of nature. With this characteristic of Japanese sweets, Nanaco Plus+ has made handicrafts that make it easier for people to love both tradition and the change of seasons. The concept of this shop is “to enjoy seeing, wearing and eating candy,” so it can bring us the fun from traditional to modern candy culture.

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Products of Nanako Plus+

In this unique shop, there are many kinds of products. Accessories like earrings, hair ties, and hair clips are all made with real, traditional Japanese candies like tamamono or kumiame. All of these sweet accessories are really cute and especially they go well with traditional Japanese clothes like yukata or kimono. Not only does Nanaco Plus+ sell candy accessories, they also have charms for bags or smartphones. It might be nice gift for friends or foreign people. They must be surprised if they know that such a cute accessory or charms are made with real candy. These cute and unique products are a great combination of the traditional and modern in Japan.

Interview from Nanaco plus+

We visited this wonderful shop. It is located on a narrow street. Actually, the store is not large, but it was packed with people anyway. Not only young people, but also older people were enjoying seeing the products of nanako plus+.

Unfortunately, taking photos is banned inside the shop, but we were still able to talk with the clerks. They said their belief is in the importance of continuing something with creativity. “We hope to express the traditions of Japan through our products,” they said. They also said that recently they had opened a store in Tokyo, so now more foreign people are interested in their products. They were very happy about it.

During our visit, we bought a charm and earring there. The charm with green tea candy can be bought only at the Kyoto store.

candy nanaco

Left: piercing 1,296 yen / Right: charm 540yen

 

Access

There are two Nanaco Plus+ shops in Japan, but the main one is in Kyoto. It is near the most popular street in Kyoto: Shijo-Kawaramachi, so visitors from overseas can easily stop by the shop while sightseeing. Moreover, they can feel the tradition of Kyoto culture on the way to Nanaco Plus+. If visitors are unable to visit the shop, they can still order their products online.

The Social Kitchen

By Yuri Kamakura and Akane Kaneta

 

The Social Kitchen is a cafe opens that changes shopkeepers every day. They think that they want to tell about lifestyle through food and use their skills in preparing it. At the heart of the Social Kitchen is the wishto be a place where people gather and engage in conversations with convivial atmosphere. The Social Kitchen cafe provides healthy and tasty food with reasonable prices while following practices that will improve the conditions related to food and farming, such as organic farming, development and preservation of the local economy, at both local and global levels. The cafe can be used for many different events.

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Social Kitchen cafe

The basic philosophy of this cafe is to…

… use ingredients that are not harmful to the environment or our bodies

… use ingredients produced in Kyoto and its surrounding areas as much as possible

… value our relationship with local, small farmers and retailers and…

… try to reduce the amount of waste as much as possible.

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We visited Social Kitchen Cafe on Tuesday morning. Rather than a common cafe,  it seemed to be more like a kitchen in a home. It was very friendly.

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We ordered the  “croquette plate.” It  included soup, salad and rice. Surprisingly, each dish used beans. It is very healthy and filling. We were very satisfied with the dish.

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“croquette plate”

The 2nd floor

Because of its nature as a social and cultural center, “Kominkan” in Japanese, the Social Kitchen is not intended to be the place where just a few people conceive and organize everything. It is an open organization or place where those who have ideas or projects  organize things by and for themselves with the help of others. The Social Kitchen has this to say about their place: “The Social Kitchen can only work if people with diverse backgrounds gather, create ideas, experiment, and contribute to  each others’ projects. This makes everyone’s actions more complex, convivial, social and beautiful. Please email us if you have any ideas for this space that can be used for lectures, workshops, debates, study groups, bazaars, exhibitions, meetings and parties.”

The 3rd floor

The Social Kitchen office is on the 3rd floor and houses offices for one designer, two programmers, and one group called OUR,. OUR is a group in a vague sense and rejects any specific definition. It does not have fixed members. Nor does it have one leader or center. OUR organizes exhibitions, parties, critiques, picnics, and lectures based on the interests of its members.

Address: 602-0898 Sokokuji Kitamonzen-cho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto 699 Phone:075-201-1430 Email: info@hanareproject.net

Ohagi-A Japanese Confectionery Related to Flowers

By Hikari Isaka and Maya Ito

Ohagi is made from boiled rice and red adzuki beans.

Ohagi is made from boiled rice and red adzuki beans.

Recently most Japanese eat ohagi. But in the old days, it was known as an expensive, luxurious sweet that Japanese only ate on special days. Ohagi is made from boiled rice and red adzuki beans. Its name comes from the bush clover, which blooms in September and is called ohagi in Japanese.

Japanese started to eat ohagi during the Edo period. People believed that red color of ohagi, which came from the red adzuki beans, was good luck, and helped prevent disaster from visiting upon them. It is said that ohagi is a foods exorcised the bad spirits. It is typically eaten during the autumnal equinox.

Botamochi is another kind of ohagi, but is eaten in the spring and named after “botan” or the peony flower. Japanese always eat botamochi during the spring equinox. The color of the adzuki beans to resembles the reds of these the seasonal flowers. However, in recent days, people are usually eating ohagi throughout the year.

The harvest season for Japanese adzuki beans is usually in the autumn. The sweetened bean paste of ohagi is made from these beans because these are fresh and soft. Therefore, the bean husks give the sweet bean paste a chunky texture. We call it tsubu-an in Japanese. On the other hand, the sweetened bean paste of botamochi is made with beans that have been kept through the winter. They are not so fresh. In addition the husks of beans kept throughout the winter have hardened, and so the texture on the tongue is a bit too rough, unlike the texture of the beans harvested in autumn. Accordingly, the sweetened bean paste of botamochi excludes the bean husks and is called koshi-an in Japanese. Japanese ate botamochi in spring a long time ago. However, we can eat both of these types of bean paste throughout the year due to current development preservation techniques. Nevertheless, the expiration date of Ohagi is short, and it must be eaten within a day.

The long-established store Imanishiken specializes in ohagi. Imanishiken was established at Karasuma-Gojo in1879 and recently opened up a branch in the and Takashimaya Department Store in Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo for a limited period. It sells just three kinds of ohagi: Koshian, Tsubuan and Kinako-flavored. The shop hours are from 9:30a.m. until they are sold out. It is closed on Tuesday.

Imanishiken specializing in ohagi at Karasuma-Gojo

Imanishiken specializing in ohagi at Karasuma-Gojo

We visited this store twice because we could not purchase anything on our first trip since all of the ohagi had sold out within thirty minutes of the store opening. On the second day, we could buy only a few pieces of ohagi—the last remaining two. If you purchase ohagi at the main store we recommend you go before opening time.

All of the ohagi had sold out within thirty minutes.

All of the ohagi had sold out within thirty minutes.

 

 

Handing Down Traditional Culture in Kyoto

by Hikari Isaka and Maya Ito

The tea ceremony (chanoyu) is one of many traditional Japanese arts and is often praised for its profound meaning. This art was spread throughout Japan by Sen-no-Rikyu in the middle of the 15th century and continues to be practiced by the Japanese to this day. Kyoto has many of the headquarters of the main schools of the tea ceremony. Today, we can learn how to do tea ceremony by taking lessons or by taking part in tea ceremonies that are held in many places. Kyoto has many places to experience tea and many of them are at famous tourist sites. They are not only held in temples, but also in shops around these complexes. It is easy for tourists to experience here.

The tea ceremony often takes place in a formal structure known as the teahouse. Its peculiar structure and atmosphere was developed centuries ago. Most teahouses are four-and-a-half mats in size — rather small and not so spacious. What is more, this size is standard for teahouses. There are no lights or furnishings. Therefore, we can hear the characteristic sounds of the tea ceremony naturally in this special space—the boiling of water and the whistle of the tea kettle. That is why the teahouse can heighten our feelings and we can enjoy the tea ceremony by appreciating its aural and visual effects.

The tea ceremony

The tea ceremony

Candies which served in the usucha ceremony

Candies served in the usucha ceremony

The tea ceremony is based on the brewing of powdered green (koicha) and a lighter tea (usucha) in a tea-ceremony room. Koicha and usucha are different not only in taste but also in the manner of preparation. At tea ceremonies in a traditional teahouse, visitors always enter the tea-ceremony room through a small door. There are three different points between koicha and usucha. At first, at the powdered green tea ceremony, guests eat a confection before drinking the thick and slightly bitter koicha. However, when drinking usucha, guests eat dry confections in the middle of the tea ceremony. Sweet confections are eaten to balance out the bitter flavor of the teas. At the tea ceremony, the confections used are based on the seasons. This makes the visitor happier. Secondly, koicha is usually made for three or four people at a time, therefore guests share the tea from the same teacup. Moreover, the powdered green tea is muddy and dark green in color. For a guest who drinks koicha for the first time, it may taste so bitter, but the more one drinks the more one learns to appreciate the taste of this thick tea. On the other hand, in the usucha ceremony, guests can drink tea by themselves. Thirdly, the implements used in the tea ceremony for these two teas are different. For koicha, people use a tea caddy. On the other hand, for usucha people use a jujube. When people make usucha they do not measure exactly but for koicha, people make exact measurements.

The yea ceremony

The tea ceremony

A Japanese cake in the  koicha ceremony

A Japanese cake in the koicha ceremony

On the 28th day of every month in Kyoto, many tea ceremonies are held throughout Kyoto as it is the memorial day for Sen-no-Rikyu. You can attend many tea ceremonies at subtemples on this day at Daitokuji Temple where Sen-no-Rikyu was a priest. Everybody should try the tea ceremony and enjoy it!

Ichijoji Ramen

by Mao Osako and Yuina Terasaki

Most people think of Kyoto as a place to see temples, shrines, and geisha. However, Kyoto is more than that. In this article, we will introduce a place that many tourists don’t know about: Ichijoji, a fierce battleground of delicious ramen restaurants. After describing what ramen is, we will tell you more about this most famous ramen area of Kyoto and recommend some of the shops there. We hope that after reading about it, you will want to visit Ichijoji yourself.

What is Ramen?

Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup dish made with Chinese-style wheat noodles and served in a meat or fish based broth. One of the characteristic features of Japanese ramen is the different types of broth offered, such as soy sauce, miso (soybean paste), and salt. Mainly, the taste of soy sauce is typical of Kyoto. In addition to broth and noodles, there are various ingredients on top, such as slices of roast pork, green onion, and garlic. A typical bowl of ramen costs around 600 to 1,000 yen. Men like to eat ramen late at night, while most women tend to eat ramen during lunchtime. The calories are a little high, but you can get great boost of energy at the same time.

Ichijoji

Ichijoji is located in the north part of Kyoto near the Takano river. There are no famous temples or shrines there, but instead Ichijoji is mostly known for its large collection of ramen restaurants. There are about 22 ramen shops there, all competing with each other for business. That’s why this place is known as a fierce battleground of ramen. When you get off the train at Ichijoji station and walk a little to the west, just follow your nose to the many ramen shops on and around Higashioji Street.

The variety of ramen shops is fascinating. One of the ramen shops has been in business for over 40 years. On the other hand, another shop just opened its doors recently. Each shop has its own unique characteristics. While some shops change their ways to meet their customers’ needs better, other shops stay true to their ways regardless of the desires of customers. For shops open to change, they tend to alter their interior decoration for families, or make a special menu by referring to surveys given to customers. Other shops are against this approach. The purposely don’t keep up with the trends. Instead, they maintain their own way from one generation to the next, building a tradition. That’s why although there are many Ramen shops, there are also popular and unpopular shops.

Perhaps one of the reasons why Ichijoji became such a hotspot for ramen is that there are many schools around this area. And since ramen is cheaper than many other restaurants, it saves students money.

Tentenyuu Ramen Shop

One of the ramen shops we recommend is called Tentenyuu, also known as the ‘Faith of Ichijoji’. According to the Japanese gourmet website, Tabelog, Tentenyuu won the award for Best Ramen 2011. When you visit Ichjoji for the first time, you should definitely go to this ramen shop. It has a signature broth made with 100% chicken stock and vegetables. The chicken stock is boiled for more then 11 hours, so if we drink the broth, we can get a lot of collagen, which is good for us. Also, this shop offers different tastes between day and night. So will you try going twice in one day?

When we went to Tentenyuu, it was nighttime. We ordered a bowl of chashumen for 830 yen. ‘Chashu’ means baked pork, while ‘men’ means noodles. When our order arrive, we were surprised at how many pieces of chashu there were. We couldn’t even see the noodles due to the seven tasty looking pieces of chashu on top. And because the pork had a light taste, we were able to eat it easily and still have room for the noodles, which were slim and a bit firm. The salty-simmered bamboo shoots had a pleasantly strong taste. It was our first time to experience that taste. We came to know the real taste of salty-simmered bamboo shoots. Delicious!

When you order ramen at Tentenyuu, you have to call shop staff over and tell them what you want to eat. After we placed our order, we only waited about 5 minutes for the food to come. The shop’s space is fairly large, with three Japanese style small private rooms and 10 stools at the counter. When we went there, most of the seats were full. The staff are very kind, so we recommend that you sit at the counter so you can interact with them.

A bowl of chashumen for 830 yen

A bowl of chashumen for 830 yen


 
The salty-simmered bamboo shoots

The salty-simmered bamboo shoots


 

Yumewokatare Ramen Shop

Yumewokatare is the name of the second Ichijoji ramen shop we recommend. This shop is popular with students. This is because some customers say the ramen here is quite filling, while other say that eating it releases stress. One family we spoke with said they came from all the way from Osaka, and had come to this shop three times in the past. They said the last time they came, they weren’t able to eat there because the ramen was completely sold out. They claim to feel charmed by stamina when eating the ramen at Yumewokatare.

When we went to Yumewokatare, we ate pork double ramen for 980 yen. Customers are able to choose from different sizes, so the cost is related to the portion size. Some customers advised us that the 980 yen size is too much for a woman. But we tried it anyway! When we first saw the bowl of ramen, we were amazed by its size. It contained a lot of bean sprouts and thick chashu. The noodle were thick, too. So if you eat the normal size ramen, maybe you will feel it is still too much to eat. There is no doubt that we can consume a large amount of vegetables, meat, and noodles from the ramen at this shop.

pork double ramen for 980 yen

pork double ramen for 980 yen


 
Noodles

Noodles

When we walked into Yumewokatare, we noticed a strong garlic smell. In fact, the ramen comes with a lot of garlic in it. However, we can order our ramen without garlic at all, so don’t worry if you are not a big fan of garlic.

One of the things we loved about Yumewotakare is that when you go to order the ramen, you have to buy a ticket from a vending machine, containing all the menu items. Then you must hand in the ticket to shop staff. This is one of the unique points of this shop. After handing over our tickets, we only had to wait about 5 minutes. It was just right for us. All the seats in this shop are at the counter, so we were able to watch the shop staff prepare the ramen and interact with them. This is another charming point of Yumewotakare.

you have to buy a ticket from a vending machine.

Ticket Vending Machine


 
In addition, these two shops are literally right next to each other!

So please try two shops a day?

Access

Tentenyuu (天天有)

By train: Get off at Ichijoji station of Eizandentetu.
By bus: Get off at Ichijoji Kitadaimaruchyo.
By subway: Get off at Matugasaki station of Karasuma line.

Operating hours:
Mon-Sat: 18:00~02:30
Sun & public holidays: 18:00~01:30
Shop holidays: Wednesday
Signboard color: Yellow

Building

Tentenyuu


 

Ramensou Yumewokatare(夢を語れ)

By train: Get off at Ichijoji station of Eizandentetu.
By bus: Get off at Ichijoji Kitadaimaruchyo.
By subway: Get off at Matugasaki station of Karasuma line.

Operating hours:
Tue-Sat: 11:30~14:30, 18:00~24:00
Sun: 11:30~14:30, 18:00~22:00
Shop holidays: Monday
Signboard color: Light blue

Building

Ramensou Yumewokatare


 
Two shops are literally right next to each other.

Two shops are literally right next to each other.

Kamo – Miyako Yasai Restaurant

by Yuki Nakajima, Kasumi Sakamoto, and Momoko Fukui

When it comes to unique Kyoto restaurants, Kamo is one of the most famous, mostly because it uses over 30 different types of locally grown organic vegetables (miyako yasai) to make its dishes, which are served in a buffet style to customers. In order to learn more about what can be done in the kitchen with miyako yasai, we visited Kamo and this is what we learned.

Kamo at Karasuma

Kamo at Karasuma


 

Examples of Miyako Yasai

Green Onions
The onions with leaves that Kamo provides come from the Momoi Plantation in Kyoto prefecture. These vegetables are harvested before growing up completely, so they have no bitter taste. They are steamed without any spice, so we can enjoy their natural taste (see image 2).

https://flic.kr/p/nK1E1P

Green Onions


 

Purple Sweet Potatoes
The purple sweet potato served in Kamo is from Kameoka City, Kyoto Prefecture. This is a kind of tuber that contains a lot of anthocyanin, which gives it its purple hue. Anthocyanin is also known for its antibacterial properties. At Kamo, the purple sweet potato is also steamed without spice, so it has a naturally sweet taste and very delicious (see image 3).

purple sweet potato https://flic.kr/p/egiAea

Purple Sweet Potato


 

Turnips
The turnips that are served at Kamo are grown in the Kyo-tanba region, in the North part of Kyoto Prefecture. The variety of turnip is called the hakurei turnip, which is sweeter than other kinds of turnips. Kamo uses it as a salad ingredient to make best use of its taste, color, and texture.

White Radish
The white radish at Kamo is also grown in the Kyo-tango region. White radishes have a light taste and contain lots of vitamins.

Rocket Lettuce
Rocket lettuce is called rukkora in Japanese. The rocket lettuce Kamo serves is grown on the Mizuho Plantation. It is rich in vitamins and minerals. Some people say that rocket lettuce tastes a little bitter, but the version served in Kamo is without this bitter taste. Like turnips and white radish, it is served as an ingredient for making salad.

Potatoes
Potatoes in Kyoto are a little different from the purple sweet potatoes at Kamo. Potatoes are rich in vitamin C, and their texture changes according to the boiling time or level of moisture. Potatoes are also included in the dish called oden at Kamo, which is like a boiled stew of vegetables and meats. The texture of the potato is just right for oden. Also, chefs at Kamo leave the skin on the potatoes when cooking because it is healthy, delicious, and doesn’t contain any pesticides. In this way we can enjoy potatoes the way they were meant to be eaten.

Black Radishes
The black radish in Kyoto is a little different from the usual radish. The skin is black and tough, and the inside is white. The difference is not only in the looks, but also in the taste. The black radish is very spicy, so we can enjoy our salad with a slice black radish. Boiling the radish is another is the good way to enjoy it.

Kinbi Carrots
The kinbi carrot is one of the rarest and most unique vegetables Kamo serves its customers. It colored vivid yellow like lemons. Its claim to fame is its taste, which is sweeter than normal carrots, and without that carroty smell. Moreover, it the kinbi carrot is soft, even without being cooked. For this reason it is recommended for those who don’t like the flavor of normal carrots.

Orange Chinese Cabbage
Normal Chinese cabbage has cancer preventative properties and protects DNA. However, the Orange Chinese cabbage grown in Kyoto is even higher in nutrition than the normal cabbage. For example, its vegetable fiber is about six times higher; 0.1% is normal and orange Chinese cabbage is 0.6%. It is also delicious.

Miyako Yasai Salad Bar

The main feature of Kamo is its salad bar. It is called the Hateke Bar. ‘Hatake’ means ‘field’ in Japanese. You can choose miyako yasai there as if you were harvesting vegetables on a farm. The hatake bar offers various kinds of seasonal miyako yasai, including unfamiliar vegetables, such as specific kinds of green leaves. Kamo only serves vegetables grown exclusively in Kyoto. All the miyako yasai in Hatake Bar are just cut to eat, so you can enjoy their tastes as they are. In other words, you can taste “Kyoto” by eating from the Hatake Bar.

Also, if you want to enjoy another flavor with your meal, you should try Kamo’s original dressings, such as the onion dressing or the Japanese white radish dressing. It is very interesting to season vegetables with other vegetables. Another way of changing the flavor is with pitapan, which is a kind of thin bread.   According to one of the Kamo’s staff members, pitapan is very popular among regular customers. You can put your favorite miyako yasai and seasonings on top of Pitapan and enjoy the delicious flavors and textures.

You can eat particularly fresh miyako yasai at Kamo. Every morning, the vegetables are directly transported from local farmers. Then, the vegetables are soon used for dishes. This is one of the most appealing points of Kamo, for you probably cannot encounter such fresh, local dishes using exclusively miyako yasai at any other restaurants in Kyoto.

Another attractive point of Kamo is that the miyako yasai they serve is seasonal. Since they try to feature vegetables that are in season, you can see their brightness and freshness. They also taste great. Finally, Kamo’s chefs make the best use of vegetables they use when they cook. Therefore, very few ingredients are thrown away during the preparation process. This is most important in the minds of cooks.

Eating miyako yasai in Kyoto supports local production for local consumption, which is a good thing for several reasons. First, we can eat fresh vegetables soon after being harvested. These taste the best. Second, we reduce our carbon footprint because the vegetables do not need to be transported from other prefectures or countries. Third, we can eat safe vegetables. In Kamo, they display photos and descriptions of the farmers right next to the vegetables you are going to eat. In this way, you can know exactly who grew and harvested the vegetables, so there is no worry of contamination from pesticides, for example.

Finally, eating miyako yasai is healthy. Fresh, organic vegetables are good for our body. They contain a lot of vitamins. People who go on a diet or take care of their own health can also eat dishes without thinking about calories because all dishes are very healthy and low on calories.

During your stay in Kyoto, make sure you try eating miyako yasai at least once. You are sure to like it.

Access to Kamo

There are three Kamo restaurants in Kyoto city.

1. Kamo at Shijo-Karasuma.  It is where we visited to interview. You can find the black building, Kamo at Shijo-Karasuma on Higashi-no-toin street. It is convenient to get off at Hankyu Karasuma station or at Shijo station of city subway.

2. Kamo in front of the Kyoto aquarium. It is located on Omiya street and in front of Kyoto aquarium. You can easily get there by using city bus and getting off at Nanajo-Omiya.

3. Kamo in Kawaramachi-cho.  It opened this spring and newest Kamo restaurant. You can get there in five minutes after getting off at Hankyu Kawaramachi-cho station.

map

The Summer Custom of Eating Unagi

By Kurumi Kato, Narumi Kitagawa and Yu Nakabayashi

Kabayaki

Kabayaki

Kyoto is one of the hottest cities in Japan in summer. To help keep cool during the hot season, Japanese people have traditionally eaten eel. There are several stories concerning how this custom started. One of the most believable says that eel provides nutrition that is effective for against summer ailments such as heatstroke or heat fatigue. This custom of eating eels in summer has continued for about 200 years now. When is this it? On the day called Doyounoushi, in English “the midsummer day of the ox,” Japanese eat a bowl of rice with eel on top to get them through the summer.

 History of Eel Cuisine

Eels have been eaten in Japan for at least 1,300 years. The first document, which refers to eel as a food is the Fudoki, which was published in 713. At that time, people used to chop eels up into small pieces, or use an entire one, skewer it, grill it and then dip it in soybean paste or vinegar. Since then the way of cutting up an eel has changed. Now the eel is split open and the bones are removed before being skewered. With the spread of the Eastern-Japan-style soy sauce, which is called koikuchi-shoyu, soy sauce-flavored eels became ever more popular. In the middle of 1700s, some eel shops started to serve grilled eels, or kabayaki. The flavor was closer to the flavor we taste now. Around 1800, restaurants, which served a bowl of rice topped with kabayaki, called unadon, became more common, although some were quite exclusive. Before the Edo era ended, the way of selling kabayaki varied. While it was a dish of some exclusive restaurants, some people sold it from a cart or street stall.

 

Kabayaki and the Differences between Kanto and Kansai

We cook eel in many ways. But usually we grill it and add sauce, which includes soy sauce, mirin, sugar, saké and so on. This method is called kabayaki as mentioned before. The most famous eel dish is unadon. Don means a bowl of rice with food on top. We put eel on rice and enjoy them together. This way of eating eel was invented in the Edo era, which is about 400 years ago. This style remains one of the standard dishes of Japanese local cuisine.

a

The way to cook and eat Eel differs from region to region, even in Japan. For example in Kanto, which is in the eastern part of Japan, eel is sliced open along the spine, and grilled from the back side. There is a historical reason for this. In the Kanto region, the culture of Bushi took root. Bushi were warriors who appeared in the Edo period. They would cut open their stomach if they lost a fight. So that is why people avoided slicing the eel from the front side.

 

How about in Kansai, which is in the western part of Japan? Different from Kanto, Kansai people started to slice their unagi from the front side. The reason also originated in the Edo period. In those days, Osaka prefecture, which is a part of Kansai, flourished as a town of commerce. Merchants valued heart-to-heart talk with customers when they conducted their business. In Japanese, heart-to-heart talk is translated as “talk while cutting each other’s abdomen.” In this region, cutting the abdomen carried a positive meaning. This culture is being reflected in the way unagi is cut now.

Kaneyo in Kyoto

There are lots of places that sell unadon in Kyoto. Kaneyo is especially famous for its unique unadon and the appearance of its interior and exterior. The interior is classic Japanese style. Kaneyo is a two-story building. The first floor has seats at a counter. The second floor is a drawing room. The drawing room has Japanese-style flooring, tatami, and Japanese sliding paper doors, shoji. Restaurants that have tatami and shoji are decreasing. But, you can see this style of Japanese house in this restaurant.

You can also see the cooks grilling eels on the first floor. Kaneyo’s unado is not ordinary. Ordinary Unadon is made of grilled eels, rice and sauce. Kaneyo’s unadon contains big fried egg on top. When you open the lid of the food container, you will find big fried egg, and the grilled eels is underneath. You can enjoy eating this dish in three ways. First, eat the fried egg. It tastes rich of dashi (favoring), and its texture is really airy. Second, eat the fried egg and grilled eel together. Eels grilled to the perfect degree of softness taste great with the fried egg. That combination is really good. Then, eat only the grilled eels. You can taste the umami (savoriness) of the grilled eels.

 

Kinshi donburi

Kinshi donburi

Kaneyo is located in Kyoto city. It’s a five-minute walk from Kawaramachi Station. If you have a time, and you are still wondering which restaurant to try, go to Kaneyo and eat unadon or grilled eels on the day of doyounoushi.