Zuikougama – A Pottery Shop

April 20, 2019

by Saki Hirota & Mai taniguchi

The Zuikou kiln is a place in eastern Kyoto where visitors can go to experience making kiyomizuyaki, which is the style of pottery made in the area on the east side of the city called Gojozaka, near the famous Kiyomizu Temple. Kiyomizuyaki is a type of kyoyaki, which is a general term for pottery made in the Kyoto city area. The history of kyoyaki is very old.

It said that pottery creation in the Kyoto region began in the Kofun period (300~538 AD). In Muromachi period (1336~1573), color painted pottery began to make its appearance. Later, in the early part of Edo period (1603~1868), a man named Ninsei Nonomura lived. He is known now as the father of kiyomizuyaki, as he gave birth to the style that we know today. In 1771, the Rokubei kiln was established by the Rokubei clan, a well-known family of ceramists with over 240 years of history. Later, one of the members of the Rokubei family started a new branch called the Tsuchitani kiln, which was headed by Tsuchitani Zuiko, who was born in 1867. This was the start of the Zuiko kiln.

About the Zuiko Kiln

The Zuiko kiln is worth a visit for anyone wanting to experience Japanese culture, especially if they appreciate pottery. There are a number of advantages to visiting the kiln.

First, it is located in one of the main tourist areas of Kyoto, in the area surrounding the famous Kiyomizu Temple. The kiln is only 7 minutes on foot from Kiyomizu Temple and a 10-minute walk from the famous Yasaka Shrine. The area is not far from Kyoto station either, making it convenient for visitors. So, in addition to visiting the kiln to experience pottery making and see an impressive gallery of kiyomizuyaki, but tourists can also enjoy a very easy and comfortable walk around the area.

Also, Zuiko kiln offers a great service to visitors. For example, to better experience making kiyomizuyaki, visitors can borrow work clothes, which give them the feeling of being a true craftsman. And along the way, they are free to take a photos with their smartphones to share with their friends. The kiln’s staff is also very helpful, and they can communicate in English, which many foreign visitors appreciate.

Finally, the quality of the pottery visitors can make at Zuiko kiln is excellent. Not only is it easy to do, but the result is pottery that is thin, light, beautiful, and most of all: unique. The process visitors experience is the same one that authentic craftsmen of kiyomizuyaki carry out. This not only makes visitors happy, but they can take away a piece of pottery that can make someone or something appear more beautiful, such as a dining table. Also, Kiyomizuyaki can be made with many different colors, such as pearl, lemon, candy, turquoise, and bronze. These colors are very cute, so visitors can enjoy them.

Making Kiyomizuyaki

The Zuiko kiln offers three different plans to visitors who want to experience making kiyomizuyaki.

Light Plan

This is the shortest and cheapest of the three plans. It costs 1,900 yen + tax and only takes 20 minutes to complete. It allows visitors to make their very own cup in the kiyomizu style. They can also choose their own color, such as pearl, lemon, or candy.

Standard Plan

This is the most popular plan amongst visitors. It costs 2,900 yen + tax, and takes about 40 minutes to complete. However, if visitors plan ahead and make a reservation on the website before they arrive, they can receive a discount. Once underway, visitors can make their favorite size and shape of the pottery they make. They can also choose their favorite color from all the colors in the shop.

Zuiko Plan

This is the most expensive and time-consuming plan that Zuiko kiln offers. It costs 4,900 yen + tax and takes 60 minutes to complete. Alhough the price is a little high, this is a very special plan because visitors can choose to make 2 different types of kiyomizuyaki in their own shape and color.

Regardless of the plan, if visitors do not feel like carrying the pottery away when they leave, they can opt to have the product sent to their home in the mail. Of course, there is an extra charge for this.

Our Experience

We decided to try this kiyomizuyaki-making experience at Zuiko kiln. First, we received an explanation of contents of the workshop and the fee. Before we began, we were allowed to look at many different examples of finished pottery, to give us some ideas on what we could make. We chose Standard plan. Then it was time to start making our own pottery. We were able to choose any shape we liked. We chose a bowl and a cup. And whenever we needed help, the friendly and knowledgeable staff was there to help us. Once we were done, we then could choose one design from many different samples. From there, the craftsman drew the design onto our freshly made piece. In this time we chose flowers design. After that, all we needed to do was wait for it to bake it the oven. The pottery will send our house during one month. After we experienced, we can did in a nearby cafe. Once it was complete.

Access

Yasakakamimachi 385-5, Higashiyama-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 605-0827

TEL: 075-744-6644

Open Hours

10:00 – 17:00

*Last Entry 16:30 (Light Plan) 16:00 (others)

Holidays

Open all seasons

Reservations

kyozuiko@gmail.com

By Email: please give us your

1) Lesson of your choice

2) Date

3) Time

4) Number of Participants

Demachi Futaba – Traditional Sweets Shop

by Misaki Horita & Yusa Inoue

What kind of Japanese food are you interested in? There are many Japanese foods that are popular among many foreigners in Japan, for example, sushi, udon noodles, tempura, flour-based foods, andso on. Certainly, these Japanese foods are very tasty and highly popular among foreigners. However, many foreigners do not know about Japanese confectionery culture. Meanwhile, there is a store in Kyoto that has been specializing in Japanese confectionery for almost 200 years. Founded in 1823, it is called Demachi Futaba, and it is located in the Demachiyanagiregion of the city. Since then, the store has been making Japanese confectionery by traditional methods. This store has been chosen as the most delicious Japanese confectionery for the fourth consecutive year at the Japanese Confectionery Competition in Kyoto. Also, this store has been given many awards at the Japanese confectionary competition in Japan.

Rice Cake with Beans

Because Demachi Futaba is so famous, there are often long rows of people waiting in line to buy their products, even on weekdays. There are usually 10 types of items for sale on any given day in Demachi Futaba. The most popular item is a rice cake with beans. This Japanese confectionery has lots of sweet bean paste inside the rice cake. And the rice cake is covered with big black beans. The white color of the rice cake and black color of the beans create an excellent color balance. Also, the texture is so soft that it feels like a cheek of a baby. However, rice cakes have elasticity. The taste is very elegant. This rice cake with beans uses good quality rice with salted beans that balance the sweet bean paste. This rice cake with beans has a very good balance of taste all around.

A rice cake with beans

It is one of the most wonderful Japanese sweets among the many in Japan. Therefore, all people can enjoy the rice cake with beans of Demachi Futaba, from children to old people alike. However, as soon as you buy this sweet, you must eat it right away. These kind of Japanese sweets don’t keep for a long time. So, it may not be suitable as a souvenir for someone the day after. This short shelf life is because this Japanese confectionery is using a delicate technology. It is an advanced technique of craftsmen who have developed it over many years. I recommend eating your freshly bought rice cake with beans on the banks of the nearby Kamoriver. Eating a rice cake with beans while watching the beautiful view next to the river is particularly special. This Japanese confectionery can also be bought at department stores in Kyoto Station. However, you cannot buy it in other places except Demachi Futaba and department store in Kyoto station. Therefore, we can understand that craftsmen value the quality of rice cake with beans.

Enjoy with the Five Senses

There are many types of Japanese sweets other than bean cake in Demachi Futaba. For example, pink-colored sweet rice cake wrapped in a cherry leaf, rice cake stuffed with sweet adzuki paste and wrapped in an oak leaf, three color dumplings, and so on. The appearance of rice cake with beans is very simple. However, these other Japanese confectioneries are more colorful and beautiful than a simple rice cake with beans. They are especially popular amongst women, and can be enjoyed with eyes in addition to our tongues. The colors of pink, green and yellow stimulate our appetite.

Three color dumpling

Furthermore, this shop also has seasonal Japanese confectionery. A lot of foreigners can experience the aesthetic qualities of the four seasons of Japan. If there are no seasons in your country, we would like you the experience the seasons of Japan through the Japanese confectionery of Demachi Futaba. This store is a special place for foreigners who are interested in Japanese food culture. Please visit to experience the appearance, flavor, seasons of Japan.

Information of Demachi Futaba

Demachi Futaba is one of the most famous Japanese confectionery stores in Kyoto. So, this store can have long lines, even on weekdays. You should except to stand in line for at least 15 to 30 minutes. But it is no matter, as you will surely will be satisfied with the taste, appearance, flavor of the sweets. A lot of people say, it is worth lining up for. And the price is also reasonable. I think easy for anyone to buy sweets there, so it is popular among all generations. And although Demachi Futaba is a little away from the center of Kyoto, it is still easy toaccess because it is very near the train station and the bus stop.

In sum, Demachi Futaba is a place where you can learn Japanese traditional Japanese confectionery culture. If you are interested in Japanese confectionary culture, you should go to Demachi Futaba.

Access

Keihan Railway, Demachiyanagi station. It’s a 7-minute walk to the west. Cross the Kamoriver and Kamo bridge

Kyoto city bus, Aoibashi Nishizumie bus stop. It’s 2-minute walk to south. And Kawaramachi Imadegawa bus stop. It’s 3-minute walk to northwest.

Opening time:              8:30
Closing time:             17:30
Regular holidays:    Tuesday, the fourth Wednesday
Seats:              Only takeout

Old Schools as the ‘New Kyoto’

Background

At present, Japan has an aging population and declining birthrate problem. Therefore, the government has been closing about 500 schools a year. Rather than let these buildings go to waste, the closed schools are being revamped into new places such as welfare facilities, hotels, community centers and so on. The closed school sites are attractive plots of land in Kyoto due to it being a crowded city that sits in a basin. The densely populated situation in the city center means that any large spaces are far and few between. Plus, the school buildings themselves have historical value.

There are 3 main advantages of using old school buildings. First, the ample space can be used effectively, for example, holding seminars in the classrooms and enjoying sports in the gymnasium or outdoor ground. Second, by using existing facilities, new ventures can significantly decrease their costs. Finally, the site of a former school is designated as cultural property as a historic building, so they should be maintained as such. The Kyoto Art Center and Comic Museum in Kyoto are both housed on old school sites. On the other hand, there are demerits too. These old schools need repair work which means they are not always easy to use as a welfare facility or for social gatherings. They also need a lot of money to look after them. As explained, using these sites has various problems which need to be considered carefully.

 

Renovations

Currently, even in the center of Kyoto, there are 10 sites where elementary schools used to be. These buildings have been turned into libraries, hospitals, homes for the elderly, NPO offices, museums, cafés and spaces for volunteer activities. Kyoto International Manga Museum is a famous museum for overseas visitors. Inside there is a café, shop, exhibition room and memorial hall about the old elementary school. Before this site was used as a museum, it used to be Tatsuike Elementary School. The wooden floors and stairs faced of stone and tiles still remain. The floor creaks under your feet when you step on it, giving sweet memories of times gone by but in a modern setting. Moreover, visitors can read various comics and books in the surroundings of an old school. In one of the buildings, there is still the principal’s office. You can see the main terrace by the playground from the window in this office.

Kyoto Art Center used to be Meirin Elementary School. You can see the design of floats that were used for traditional feasts in Kyoto in front of the building. There is a large tatami mat -156 square yards- which adds to the traditional Japanese atmosphere. This facility also has a library, cafe and workspace for art. The management of the facility wanted to revive Kyoto, so they established the center in the old school. In 2008, there was some resistance to use the site as a cultural property, but this school was used carefully for a long time by the people in the neighborhood. Even now, a lot of people go there to learn and see the art, drink something and catch up.

The Department of Administration in Kyoto City Hall has beautifully renovated these old elementary schools into new facilities with thoughtful consideration of the local community. Elementary school buildings create fond memories for many children and adults, so it is important that the new facilities do not destroy old memories.

 

Future of old schools

Finally, let’s take a look at some future plans for reusing old school sites. Until now, old schools in Kyoto have been transformed into new facilities through a careful renovation process that does not break up the existing buildings, creating spaces for bustling communities and thriving cultural exchange. Planners care about the thoughts of the local community more than anything else and intend to continue this way in the future. They have to observe the rules made by the city. For example, stores that are built inside of these old schools must be local business’ that have a link to Kyoto’s traditions. As a result, local people who have affection for the old school buildings agree to the new utilization plans. As an example, there is the case of Rissei Elementary School. It is located in Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto and closed in 1993. This school will be renovated by 2020 and opened as a new complex that includes a hotel, café, library, resident committee meeting space among others with the cooperation of the city, local self-governing associations and real estate companies. Furthermore, a similar cultural complex will be opened in 2021 at the site of Shirakawa Elementary School in Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto. In this complex, planners intend to build shops that exhibit and sell Kyoto’s traditional crafts, a garden where local people can feel free to gather, and a hotel where guests can experience Kyoto’s culture. You will be able to see a lot more renovated buildings with new cultural complexes that protect the old school buildings. The purpose of the old schools can live on through these reconstruction projects.

The Hottest Ramen Noodles in Kyoto

by Kensei Iizuka, Yuta Kobayashi, Takanori Tsuhako

As you know, there is a lot of delicious food in Kyoto. In this article, we are going to tell you about the noodles. Kyoto, especially Kyoto City, is one of the most famous places for noodles in Japan. That is why there are a lot of great noodle restaurants here. In this article, we will introduce you to Menya-Kirameki: a really famous noodle restaurant on Kyoto Sanjo and part of the Kirameki chain of noodle restaurants in Kyoto. We will introduce other Kirameki restaurants at the end of this article. If you want to get more information about the Kirameki Group, please check them out.

Menya-Kirameki Kyoto Sanjo 

Taiwanese Spicy Soupless Noodles

The most famous noodle dish in Kirameki is their Taiwanese Soupless Noodles. This dish was born in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture in 2008. It was created from meals that were prepared for the staff of a Taiwanese restaurant in Nagoya. The Taiwanese owner used to serve these soupless noodles only for his employees until one day a customer saw them and asked him to put it on the regular menu. The owner tried to add some spices to make it tastier because it was a simple dish compared to other items on the menu in this restaurant. The dish contains ground meat seasoned with some spices that are placed on the top of super thick noodles. It also has fish meal, leeks, Chinese chives and fresh egg yolk. The way to eat it is straightforward: you just mix all the ingredients to taste them together. You might be surprised by the flavors when you eat this for the first time. However, we are sure that you will like it more and more as you continue to eat. When you have finished eating, it is recommended that you put a small cup of rice into your noodle bowl that still has some flavor from the spices. This is called “shime” in Japanese, and it is meant to refresh your mouth. To put it simply, it plays the role of brushing your teeth. By eating a bowl of plain white rice, you can ‘clean up’ the remaining flavors in your mouth. In Kirameki, you can get a small cup of rice for free when you order Taiwanese Soupless Noodles. It is okay to put the rice into your noodle bowl at the end of eating, and it is great to eat the noodles and rice together. It definitely makes you full and satisfied. But, please take care of the smell of your breath after eating Taiwanese Soupless Noodles! Those are some spicy flavors!

 

 

Chicken Bone White Broth Noodles with Soy Sauce

There is a wide range of noodles in Kyoto. Most noodle restaurants in Kyoto specialize in ‘rich noodles.’ Kyoto is called the “Student City” because there are many universities in Kyoto City. Students want to feel full and satisfied for as little money as possible. That is why many noodle restaurants are serving ‘rich noodles’ to make students-the main customers-feel satisfied. Kirameki serves ‘rich noodles.’ The soup in this dish is made from chicken bones. It takes a long time to produce the umami flavors from the chicken bones. Umami is made from the chicken bones and adjusted for taste.When you eat ‘rich noodles,’ at first, try a spoonful of just the soup and enjoy each original rich flavor. Secondly, pick up some of the noodles and eat them together with the rich soup. The noodles are all made from Japanese flour called yumemanten, which is made in Nagano Prefecture. They are really thick and chewy. Most people fall in love with these divine noodles due to their texture. Also, you can enjoy some awesome toppings such as slices of roasted pork, juicy menma (bamboo shoots), shredded green onions, and a slice of lemon. They make these noodles even tastier.

 

Chicken Bone Noodles

As well as their soy sauce dishes, Kirameki also serves noodles that have a delightful salty taste. This dish is very similar to the soy sauce options. However, the color of the soup is a little different. These dishes have a special handmade sauce that contains salt made from fresh sea water from Vietnam and France. You can taste the natural flavor of the salt, which gives you a very different taste to the soy sauce noodles. It would be great to share two noodles with others if you go to Kirameki with your friends. Comparing two flavors is just one way of enjoying noodle restaurants and becoming an expert in Japanese noodles!

 

Golden Noodles with Sesame Sauce

In Japan, especially in Kyoto, the temperature reaches up to about 38 degrees in the summer. It is said that the summer climate in Kyoto is worse than a desert. Someone might say “I don’t want to get hot food on such a humid day.” But, for those people who need to cool down in the coming summer season eating noodles can be a great option. Golden noodles with sesame sauce is a dish of cold spicy noodles. It has plenty of shredded meat on top and also some peanuts. The peanuts play an important role in this dish. The sweet taste of the peanuts balances the spiciness. In Kirameki, this dish is served only in the summer. It would be the perfect noodle dish for anyone who really wants to eat noodles even on a hot day. Although we concentrated on Kirameki noodle restaurants this time, enjoy discovering and experimenting with a variety of noodle restaurants around Kyoto. You may be able to find a special noodle restaurant that your friends don’t know, and can be your noodle heaven.

【Access】

There are six Kirameki restaurants in Kyoto:

1. Kirameki-no-tori

This was the first Kirameki restaurant opened in Kyoto. If you visit Kyoto Imperial Palace, Kirameki-no-tori is nearby. The opening hours are 11:00-15:00, and 18:00-23:00. The telephone number is 075-231-2505.

2. Yuhi-no-kirameki

This was the second Kirameki restaurant. If you visit Ichijoji, or Takaragaike, it is nearby. The opening hours are 11:00-15:00, and 18:00-23:00. The telephone number is 075-746-5388.

3. Kirameki Chicken Heart

This is Kirameki’s third restaurant. It is near Kyoto University of Foreign Studies. If you visit Arashiyama, you can go there by bus. The nearest bus stop is Shijo-kadono-oji, which takes about 15 minutes from Arashiyama. The opening hours are 11:00-14:30, and 18:00-22:30. The telephone number is 075-754-6388.

4. Kirameki ☆ JAPAN

Kirameki ☆ JAPAN, the fourth Kirameki restaurant, is near Demachi-yanagi Station and Kyoto University. Take the Keihan Railway and get off at Demachi-yanagi Station. It is easy to get there. The opening hours are 11:00-14:30, and 18:00-22:30. The Telephone number is 075-741-7174.

5. Komugi-no-kirameki

This is the fifth Kirameki restaurant. The nearest station is Kamikatsura, and Katsura. Kamikatsura is on the Hankyu Arashiyama Line. You could visit here before or after visiting Arashiyama. The opening hours are 11:00-22:30. The telephone number is 075-874-4411.

6. Menya-Kirameki -Kyoto Sanjo Street

This is the sixth Kirameki restaurant and the head restaurant of Kirameki. If you visit Kawaramachi, you can visit here. Head to north from Hankyu Kawaramachi Station. It takes about ten minutes on foot. The opening hours are 11:00-23:30. The telephone number is 075-744-6199.

Blanketed by Night in Gion

By Takumi Abe

 

Gion

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

 

The History of Gion

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

 

Gion Night Scenery

  • Yasaka Shrine

 

Yasaka Shrine

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

 

  • Northern Gion

Northern Gion

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

 

  • Gion-shinbashi

 

Gion shinbashi

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

 

  • Shijo Boulevard

 

Shijo

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

 

  • Snowy Downtown

 

Snowy Downtown

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

 

  • Hanami-koji

 

Hanami koji

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

 

  • Rainy Gion

 

Raining in Gion

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

 

  • Kennin-ji Temple

 

Kennin-ji temple

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

 

  • The traditional pagoda

 

Yasakanoto

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

 

  • Sakura

 

Sakura

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

 

  • Under the trees

 

Enjoy Hanami

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

 

The Atmosphere of Gion

 

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

Unryuin

by Mayu Nihari, Ayu Kitora & Yuki Fujimoto

Unryuin (雲龍院) is a temple located in the Higashiyama Ward of Kyoto, not far from Fushimiinari Shrine and Kyoto station.

Unryuin is what is known as a tatchu (塔頭), or sub-temple on the site of a main temple. Senryuin is the main temple to which Unryuin belongs, where on occasion public events of the Imperial family are held. If for any reason these events cannot be held at Senyuin, Unryuin will host them instead. In this way, Unryuin is associated in an indirect way with the Imperial family. Also, Unryuin is up on the mountain just above Senryu temple. It gives an image that dragon (龍- ryu) lives above clouds (雲- un). That’s why the temple was named Unryuin.

History of Unryuin

Unryuin was built in 1372 by Chikugan Shoko who were a Buddhist monk on the wishes of Emperor Gokougon who were the 4th emperor in Nanbokucho period. The temple developed over time with the support of Emperor Gokomatsu and Emperor Shoko who were the 101st emperor in Muromachi period. It is sacred to Yakushinyorai that is a Buddha and consists of Ryugeden and Reimeiden which are building in Unryuin.

Ryugeden was not originally in Unryuin. Josyusoushi who were a member of high official rank along with Ryugeden, which is related to Emperor Goenyu who were the 5th emperor in Nanbokucho period merged into Unryuin. Ryugeden was then designated as a nationally important cultural property. Ryugeden is a very precious building because the roof is constructed with sawara cypresses and bamboo nails. It is a traditional technique of construction in Japan.

Also, Yakushisanzon (薬師三尊), meaning ‘three statues of Buddha’ is in Ryugeden. Reimeiden was built to enshrine the spirits of the dead by the emperor of the Meiji period in 1884. The building also has close links with the Imperial family. That’s why Unryuin is held in such high esteem, even though the temple is a branch temple of Senryuin.

In the new year time, Senryu temple holds an event called, Shichifukujin Meguri. People visit Shichifukujin (Seven Deities of Good Luck) in hopes of acheiving happiness during the year. Daikokuten is one of the Shichifukujin deities in Unryuin. He features a stern look and representes prosperous business. So many business people come to Unryuin to offer blessings to him.

Window of Colored Paper

You can look out at the garden through the window of a shoji (paper sliding door). It is common to slide open a shoji in order to see what is on the outside. However, in this room, you can close the shoji and still look out onto the beautiful scenery in the garden, due to special windows created in the shoji.

From the left moving to the right there are four windows: the window of camellia, the window of lantern, the window of autumn tints, and the window of pine tree. The scenery outside each window reflects the change of the four seasons. It is a view felt that captures a very traditional Japanese feeling. In addition, you realize that the scene changes depending on angle at which you are sitting. You can totally see it like a picture of four pieces of colored paper.

The Four Seasons of Unryuin

The scenery seen in Unryuin is very beautiful. In the spring, cherry, camellia, and plum blossoms cause the scenery to turn pink. Every year, cherry blossoms bloom in April, but they change depending on climate. You can also see the beautiful garden of moss.

In the summer, there is a lot of greenery in Unryuin. Bellflowers also bloom in a corner of the garden. In addition, a Suikinkutsu (水琴窟) was added in the summer of 2017. Have you seen this unique object? This is one of the decorations of traditional Japanese gardens. It enjoys the reverberation sound that occurs when dropping water droplets by filling a pot in a cave.

In autumn, the leaves at Unryuin are very colorful, and can be enjoyed from mid-November to early December. Despite being so close to Kyoto station, there are usually few tourists, so you can enjoy it without too many people around. Furthermore, a night-time lighting-up event up is held each year. In 2017, it was from November 18th to November 26th. The fare is 400 yen and you can see a spectacular illumination of the fall leaves.

Finally, in the winter, this area of Kyoto often gets lots of snow. The temple with the snow piled on the roof is worth seeing. It gives you the feeling that you are seeing a beautiful painting. A lot of tourists visit here every year and take pictures.

As you can see, Unryuin is beautiful and impressive anytime of the year.

Sutra Copying at Unryuin

Sutra copying, or Syakyou in Japanese, means making your own handwritten copy of Buddhist scriptures. It is getting more popular recently for its effect on freeing one’s mind to a state of peace. If you are planning a healing trip to Kyoto, why don’t you consider copying sutras in Unryuin in a solemn atmosphere? Recently, the number of people copying a sutra for the purpose of relaxing their hearts and minds has increased. Living in a modern society of only the smartphone and printed word, we can feel at ease by painting Japanese characters with a brush and Indian ink.

Anyone can copy a sutra copying in Unryuin. All you need to do is just cleanse your hands with incense and start copying a sutra in red-ink. You can also enjoy green tea and cake while looking at the garden when you are finished.

Sutra copying (entry and green tea included): 1,500 yen. 9:00-15:30 (daily)

As you can see, Unryuin is famous and one of great sightseeing spots in Kyoto. In its garden, various beautiful plants bloom all year round, and it is very enjoyable whenever you visit. Moreover, the experience of sutra copying will be a wonderful memory. Also, you can visit other famous temple nearby, such as Sennyuji (泉涌寺) and Kaikouji (戒光寺).

Access

TEL:075-541-3916

Address:36 Sennyuji Yamanochicho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-0977, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan

Business hours:9:00 am – 16:30 pm (Irregular day off)

Worship fee:adult – 400yen / child – free of charge

The Charm of Kyo-Machiya and a Machiya Hotel

We wonder how many people know about it Kyo-Machiya, Machiya is a type of house that can be seen throughout Japan, but Kyoto is especially famous for it. It is a traditional wooden townhouse that has been used in one form or another from the 8th century to the 1th century. The typical area of a Kyo-machiya is determined by a frontage width of about 6 meters and a length’ of about 20 meters or more. Because of this long and narrow shape, people call them “unagi no nedoko” which mean “eel beds” in English. Even now, there are over 45,000 of the traditional and historical machiya in Kyoto city. They make cityscape more beautiful and have been attracting people as a symbol of Kyoto for centuries. However, the number of machiya has been decreasing because they are torn down by owners who face high maintenance costs, inheritance taxes and the simply the inconvenience of living in such a traditional space. The decrease of machiya means the loss of the beautiful cityscape in Kyoto. Machiya should be known by more people and should be preserved. Therefore, we would like to introduce machiya hotel in Kyoto to make more people aware how nice they are! Fortunately, we had an opportunity to contact with Akiko, the owner, who has a machiya and uses as an accommodation in Kyoto city.

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The name of the hotel is Kyo-machiya Kokon Higashiyama Holiday Home Kyoto. It is located in Higashiyama-ku, Chaya-cho, Kyoto and is only 0.5 km from Hokoku Shrine, 1.5 km from Kiyomizu Temple, and 2.5 km from To-i Temple and the Kyoto International Manga Museum. We could get there in 15 minutes by foot from Gojo Station. Although the location is very good, the place is very quiet. The appearance was very traditional, but at the same time was also very new and clean inside. There is a kitchen, bathroom, toilet, living room space on the 1st floor and 4 beds, chair and desk on the 2nd floor. Whatever guests might need are already stocked inside; there is even a washing machine, dryer and etc. If you stay there in winter, you can use a kotastu, which is a low covered table with a heater inside. Furthermore, there is information in English for foreign guests.

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On the 2nd floor, we could see black beams on the ceiling. The contrast between white walls and black beams looks modern and very beautiful. Most interesting point was the toilet, because it was outside. The type of the toilet is familiar with old style Japanese house. You can find it in “Sazae-san” and “Chibi Maruko-chan,” which are Japanese famous cartoons. Also, you can enjoy a tsubo niwa, which is a very small Japanese garden that can be seen from living room. It was cute and tastefully laid out. Most of the customers are foreigner the owner said. Tourists want to have new experiences in Japan by spending time in the Japanese traditional house. I want more people to know about the existence of machiya hotels and want them to use them more. If the demand increases, we can save more machiya and keep the beautiful cityscape, too!

image If you visit in Kyoto, you should stay in a machiya hotel.

Kiyomizuyaki

by Miyabi Saeki and Natsumi Awa

Kiyomizuyaki is one of many traditional crafts in Kyoto. The word kiyomizuyaki refers to all pottery made in Kyoto. In the past, people used many different words for different kinds of pottery. Kiyomizuyaki used to only mean pottery made near Kiyomizudera-temple. However, because Kiyomizuyaki was the most famous pottery in Kyoto, gradually it became the word most used to refer to all of Kyoto’s pottery.

In Kyoto, it is almost impossible to make a clay pot out of raw material, so the potters ordered the soil from other areas, blended them independently, and created works full of individuality. Even now, they continue to make works combining a comfortable feeling with an excellent design, such as a light finish familiar to the hands, or a pattern that contains the wishes of the four season’s flowers and a lucky omen. The individuality of each artist in the pottery is strong, and it can also be said that it is a feature.

History of Kiyomizuyaki

The origin of the pottery in Kyoto is not certain. However, there is no doubt that it started a long time ago. In the first half of the 5th century, under Emperor Yuuryaku, it is written that the pottery was made in Uji City and Fushimi Ward. After that, it is said that near the current neighborhood of Gojozaka, Kyoto, which is around Kiyomizudera-temple, is where the monk Gyouki built a kiln by the emperor’s order.

In the Muromachi era (1336-1573), color painted pottery was born by a technique transmitted from the Ming dynasty. Also, when moving to the Edo period (1603~1868), tea pots were made mainly in the Higashiyama area against the backdrop of the tea ceremony’s expanding popularity. This is what is widely called Kiyomizuyaki.

Since the Meiji Period (1868-1912), production volume has increased along with the introduction of modern production methods, and it has become an important export item for Japan. In addition, as new technologies from overseas were introduced, interest in new Kiyomizuyaki was born. After the war, there was the promotion of the conversion to environmentally friendly manufacturing facilities, but Kiyomizuyaki never lost its quality and artistic nature. The tradition continues to be protected as a high-quality ceramic featuring many varieties.

Currently there are hundreds of Kiyomizuyaki gathered in Kyoto. By master artists aiming for a new design while preserving the traditions of their predecessors, even today Kiyomizuyaki has an established position as a traditional craftwork representing Japan.

How to Make Kiyomizuyaki

There are two ways to make Kiyomizuyaki. One is by hand, and the other is by using a potter’s wheel.

These are the necessary materials for when you make it:

  • Clay: nowadays in Kyoto, people use clay from Shigaraki, Shiga prefecture, because the amount of clay from Kyoto has decreased since a long time ago and it’s hard to get now. Also, the quality of clay in Shigaraki is good, and Shigaraki is near Kyoto. Therefore, people use Shigaraki clay.
  • Potter’s Wheel: only for when you make Kiyomizuyaki by using a potter’s wheel.
  • Pallet (pottery knife): to fix the shape.
  • Kiln: a stone kiln to bake the pottery
  • Glaze: to make the pottery shine.
  • Oxide: to color the pottery, for example, with gold, silver, and/or copper.

To make Kiyomizuyaki, follow the steps below:

  1. Knead: press the air out of the clay to make the quality uniform.
  2. Potter’s wheel: put the clay on the potter’s wheel and shape it into what you want by using centrifugal force. If you don’t use the potter’s wheel, shape it by hand.
  3. Polish: fix the shape by pallet when it dries a little.
  4. Bake: heat it at 600-800 degrees until it hardens for the later processes.
  5. Sketch: sketch it by using metal or pigment.
  6. Glaze: coat the pottery with glaze by using brush
  7. Bake again: heat the glazed pottery at 1200-1300 degrees.
  8. Paint: paint it by using oxide and heat it a low temperature.

How to Use Kiyomizuyaki

Before using Kiyomizu pottery, you should put it in warm water or lukewarm water. Especially when you use soil vessels that are not strongly sealed, you can reduce the invasion of tea and seasonings by passing the pottery through warm water before using it. For instruments decorated with color drawings, gold, or silver, you should avoid using equipment that becomes high in temperature such as microwave ovens. When you find dirt or mold, it should wash out if you immerse it in bleach or boil water in it. If using bleach, please wash well with dishwashing detergent afterwards.

You can use Kiyomizuyaki as a cup, a vase, or as a plate. They are good for gifts. In Japan, sometimes people give them as wedding gifts. You can buy them at souvenir shops in Kyoto city, especially near Kiyomizudera-temple. A piece of Kiyomizu pottery can cost anywhere from 1,500 to 40,000 yen. It depends on where and what you buy, as well as who made it. The more complicated the design, the more expensive it is.

If you are interested in Kiyomizuyaki, you can experience making it by yourself by taking a pottery lesson at Kiyomizugojo, near Kiyomizudera-temple. For example, you can make a cup at Zuikougama, which is a pottery studio. First, you should put on a samue – which is an apron that looks like a kimono – to keep your clothes clean. Then you can begin making Kiyomizuyaki. Usually, it is hard for beginners to start from the first step, so the staff has already done the difficult parts. You do the other parts. For example, you do the shaping. It is a little difficult to shape it how you want, but the staff helps you when you are in trouble. After that you can choose the color from dark brown, light brown, and white. Also, you can carve your name at the bottom of the cup. This course is only about shaping, but if you want, you can also sketch.

There are six courses at Zuikougama, three of them are wheel pottery lessons, and the others are painting pottery lessons. The price, time, size, shapes and color are different depending on what you choose. Choosing a course is one of the fun parts, so please enjoy it. There are many places where you can take Kiyomizuyaki lessons in Kyoto. Some of them can offer English lessons. If you have a chance to come to Kyoto, why don’t you experience it?

Zuikougama (Kiyomizudera Trial Studio)

Address: 385-5 YasakaKamimachi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-0827, Kyoto prefecture

Open hours: 10:00 – 17:00

*Last Entry 16:30 (Cup Plan, Painting Light) 16:00 (others)

Reservation: 075-744-6644

kyozuiko@gmail.com

*By Email: please give them your:

1) Lesson of your choice
2) Date
3) Time
4) Number of Participants

Access: From Kyoto Station, Bus number 100 or 206.

Stop at Kiyomizu-Michi Bus Stop.

From Shijo-Kawaramachi, Bus Number 207.

Stop at Kiyomizu-Michi Bus Stop.

It is located near Kiyomizu Temple, just next to the five-story pagoda “Yasaka-No-Tou” (Yasaka Pagoda).

Making Japanese Sweets at Kanshundo

By Yuri Nonaka, Karen Takeda, Mayu Kuwahara

“Wagashi” are Japanese traditional sweets. The continental culture of Tang China was introduced to Japan by special envoys during the Nara period. At that time so Tang cakes were introduced to Japan. The Tang cake was used as an offering and they became popular among the Heian aristocrats because the cakes were so beautiful. The Tang cake was deeply related to the Imperial Court and it developed forms that were peculiar to Japan. Confectioners who made “wagashi” polished their skills and created graceful wagashi. They named each wagashi after the beauties of nature. Besides, when tea was introduced to Japan by Eisai, a Zen priest who founded Kenninji Temple, “kyogashi” (Sweets made in Kyoto) were already developed here. Kyogashi sweets were made with high-quality water and natural ingredients of Kyoto, so they were praised by Japanese people.

 

kansyundo

 

We went to Kanshundo (甘春堂) confectionary on November 14th to make kyogashi and interview wagashi makers. It took one hour and fifteen minutes to make four different wagashi cakes. One of them was higashi, which is made of sugar and has little moisture.  I made one that was in the shape of a maple (momiji) leaf. The others were jyonamagashi, which contains candies, creams, jam, or jellies, and is very moist. Each wagashi reflects the changing seasons, therefore, we made autumn ones. These days, wagashi makers are taking in Western holidays such as Halloween and Christmas.

 

namagashi

 

  Interview

Q : What kinds of customers do you deal with? Do foreigners also come here?

A : Many high school and junior high school students and families. And recently, foreign customers have been increasing. They are also great at making wagashi, because some of them learn waka and haiku.

Q : How many customers come per day?

A : The number of customers depends on the day, but the maximum is 180 people per a day.

Q : How much does each wagashi cake cost?

A : From 100 yen to 1000 yen. An assortment is usually between 2000 yen and 5000 yen.

Q : What is your recommendation?

A : “Chajyu no utsuwa,” which is a cake shaped like a Japanese tea cup. You can pour drinks in the cup and eat it too.

 

Information

Stores:

in Higasiyama・Kiyomizu

in Arashiyama ・Sagano

 

Open: 9:00

Close: 18:00

 

Timetable for making wagashi

1. 9:15-10:30

2. 11:00-12:15

3. 13:00-14:15

4. 15:00-16:15

Please book a few days in advance.

Charge for wagashi-making class: 2160 yen

 

 

namagashi2

Kyo-yuzen

by Mayumi Otsuka, Mai Takezawa, and Kanako Wakamatsu

You can see Kimono (old style Japanese clothes) all over Japan, but especially in Kyoto. Kimonos have many different patterns and colors, but do you know how many of them are actually designed? Well, the designs on kimonos are often achieved by dyeing, using a method known as Kyo-yuzen. Here, we would like to introduce some aspects of this unique dyeing method.

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Kimono

1. History of Japanese dyeing methods

2. What is Kyo-yuzen?

3. How to dye by using Kyo-yuzen

4. Kyo-yuzen in foreign countries

5. Actual experience of Kyo-yuzen

History of Japanese dyeing methods

There have been a lot of dyeing methods used in Japan over the years, and most of these were developed from Chinese dyeing types. These were introduced to Japan several thousand years ago, and taught by people from China or Korea, they formed the basis of Japanese dyeing tradition. Before this people dyed clothes very simply by applying different types of grass, flowers or even mud. In the Asuka era, in the middle of the 6th century, there was a system developed that divided people by the color of the clothes they wore. This was to distinguish between class and status, and required greater use of color in fabrics and design. In addition, in the Nara era, in the 8th century, international trade was increased, which meant further diversification in dyeing methods were introduced and spread all over Japan, with each area developing its own style. One of the most famous of these was Kyo-yuzen, a dyeing method created in Kyoto that became hugely popular. Next, we would like to introduce this unique and beautiful, traditional Japanese item.

What is Kyo-yuzen?

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Kyo-yuzen

Kyo-yuzen is one of the dyeing methods developed in Kyoto during the Edo era of the mid to late 17th century. At that time, there was an artist in Kyoto by the name of Miyazaki Yuzensai, who had built a reputation for the exquisitely drawn folding fans he produced.  Due to this, his patrons soon began to encourage him to apply his artistic skills to designs for kimono, too, which he did.  Following this, his name quickly came to be associated with top class kimono design in Kyoto, hence the name that was given to this particular dyeing style, Kyo-yuzen.

There are some interesting features unique to Kyo-yuzen that need to be noted.  First, it is possible to apply any kind of design you want, just like drawing a picture.  Second, there are many colors and hues used in the production of Kyo-yuzen pieces.  Third, a technique using elements of glutinous rice is used to guard against colors mixing or merging together.  Finally, Kyo-yuzen is done by combining more than one dyeing method, and requires several steps to achieve a final result.  Through this, Kyo-yuzen is quite superior to other dyeing methods and has become very popular all over the world.

Kyo-yuzen in foreign countries

As we said before, Kyo-yuzen is very famous globally.  For example, some events involving Japanese culture have been held recently in Paris, and there are sales booths for Kyo-yuzen products set up there.  At the booths, stainless steel mugs that are made in cooperation between Japanese Kyo-yuzen craftpersons and craftpersons in Paris are sold, and these are also available in Eigamura, a very famous sightseeing spot in Kyoto. Selling a large number of these mugs means expanding the exposure to traditional crafts of Kyoto to people in foreign countries

How to dye by using Kyo-yuzen

There are two main types of dyeing method used for Kyo-yuzen. One of these is hand painting, and the other is using stencils. First, we will explain the hand painting method:

  1. Think of the design you want for the cloth and make a design pattern  
  2. Trace the design onto the cloth
  3. Apply the special glue ② to prevent the colors from mixing with each other (this is called Itomenorioki)
  4. Apply the colors to the cloth
  5. Steam the cloth
  6. Wash the cloth
  7. Steam the cloth again and stretch out the wrinkles
  8. Using a stencil, draw the design onto special Japanese paper and cut out the pattern to make the stencil
  9. Paste the cloth onto a wooden board that is called “Yuzen-Ita”
  10. Put ① onto ② and dye
  11. Same as ⑤~⑦ of hand painting method

Actual experience of Kyo-yuzen

In Kyoto, visitors can actually experience Kyo-yuzen at some special studios.  Participants can experience dyeing cloth items like handkerchiefs, wrapping cloths, and so on.  One session is usually about one and a half hours long, and costs between 1,500 yen and 2,500 yen. Therefore, you can experience a traditional craft of Kyoto easily, and after the lesson, you can take the Kyo-yuzen item that you made with your own hands home with you.

Japanese dyeing methods have continued to develop over the centuries, and Kyo-yuzen especially. This method was created by combining a lot of different dyeing methods, which have been improved upon over time, and have become famous all over the world.  You can buy Kyo-yuzen items in many places in Kyoto, and you can also make them by yourself.  Why not give it a try!  

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Kyo-yuzen studio

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Kyo-yuzen items

One of the studios where you can experience Kyo-yuzen is “Marumasu-Nishimuraya” in Kyoto city.

Here’s their website:   http://www.marumasu-nishimuraya.co.jp/

You can reserve an experience time and get the access details there.