Old Schools as the ‘New Kyoto’

August 6, 2018

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.

image

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.

image

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.

 

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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

 

 

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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.

Kyoto City Subway – Tozai line

By Yumika Fujii and Erika Wada

In the Kyoto area, there are many kinds of public rail transportation, such as JR (Japan Railways), the Shinkansen, and the Keihan and Hankyu Railways (which connect Kyoto and Osaka). There are also two lines of the Kyoto City Subway system; the Tozai line and the Karasuma line. They travel through 10 city wards, with the exception of Sakyo in Kyoto city, and Uji city, and each of them is used by many people every day for commuting and for pleasure.

Tozai Linemap

The Tozai line was the second subway line to be built in Kyoto city. When the Tozai line was inaugurated on October 12th, 1997, there were just 13 stations, from Daigo station in the east to Nijo station. After that, further stations were added, from Rokujizo station to Daigo station, built in 2004, and from Nijo station to Uzumasa Tenjingawa station, built in 2008. This means there are 17 stations in all now. Each station has a number, from T1 to T17 and all are located near famous and popular places for tourists to visit, or for people to get to their workplaces or school, even from other prefectures. In 2003, the Daigo community bus that is run by local citizens was started, and this also connects with the subway. Moreover, it is possible to use Yamashina station and transfer to the JR Tokaido and Kosei lines, so we can get to Shiga prefecture easily, and Nijo station to transfer to the JR Sanin line. We can also use Rokujizo station to transfer to the JR and Keihan trains and go on to Uji and Nara prefecture, and at Uzumasa Tenjingawa station, built in 2008, we can transfer to the Arashiyama dentetsu train and go to Arashiyama. Travelling east to west or west to east across the city has never been so easy.

macchaRokujizo Station

Rokujizo Station is located in Fushimi, which is in Kyoto City. This station is a hub for 3 different transport options: JR, City Bus, and the Keihan Railway. People can transfer here for Kyoto Station and Uji, which is famous for Japanese green tea.

Ono Station

This station is located in Yamashina, Kyoto, and the number is T04. This is near Kajuji. Kajuji is sometimes called “Kannsyuji” or “Kanjuji”, but Kajuji is the official title. Kanjuji is the temple at which the head priest has always been drawn from the Imperial family or the ranks of the nobility.

Keage StationNanzenji temple

Keage Station is located in Higashiyama, Kyoto City, and the number is T09. This station is very close to Nanzenji Temple. Nanzenji temple was the first temple built at the Emperor’s behest in Japan, making it the highest rank of temple in Japan. Moreover, it is famous and popular for its colored leaves in autumn, which offers one of the best views out of all the four seasons in Japan.

Higashiyama StationHigashiyama

This station is located in Higashiyama, Kyoto city, and the number is T10. To the west side of the station is the crossing at Higashiyama and Sanjo streets, so it is very accessible for tourist spots like Heian Jingu Shrine or Okazaki Park. In Okazaki, there are many cultural delights and facilities, such as the Modern Art Museum, The Municipal Art Museum, The Prefectural Library, Kyoto Zoo, and the Okazaki Athletic Field. Everyone can enjoy sightseeing here, and engage in different activities.

Sanjo Keihan stationSanjo Keihan Station

Sanjo Keihan Station is located in Higashiyama, Kyoto City, and the number is T11. This station is connected to that of the Keihan Electric Railway, which is a private railway line that goes to Osaka and Shiga Prefectures. This station is very convenient for people who want to go to the Gion area, and also Kawaramachi Street, which is the popular downtown shopping street in Kyoto. In addition, there are cafes, convenience stores, ATMs and other shops on the concourse of the station, so people can spend their time comfortably here.

Kyoto Shiyakusho Mae Station

This station is located in Nakagyo, Kyoto City, and the name of the station means “the station in front of Kyoto City Hall”. The station number is T12, and is the next station to Sanjo Keihan. There is only one automatic ticket gate here, so it is very easy to find, even for tourists from other countries. Kawaramachi Street is a short walk from here, but there is also a very extensive underground shopping mall that is convenient when it is raining up top.

Karasuma Oike Station

This station is also located in Nakagyo, Kyoto City, and the number is T13 and K07. The station complex is one of the biggest in the Kyoto Subway system, because people can transfer here from the Karasuma Line Subway. There are a lot of buildings, cafes and shops near the station in the business district, and you can enjoy STARBUCKS coffee on the concourse. The automatic ticket gates are provided on the basement level, the platforms for the Karasuma Line are on the 2nd basement level, and the platforms for the Tozai Line are on the 3rd basement level.

NijojoNijo-jo Mae Station

Nijo-jo Mae Station is located in Nakagyo, Kyoto City and the station number is T14. The station name means “the station in front of Nijo Castle”, so it is very convenient for tourists going to the castle. In fact, you can walk there in just a few minutes, and you should take Exit 1 for the easiest access. In addition, this station is on Horikawa Street, which is one of the main streets in Kyoto, and transfers to many city bus routes can be made here.

 

 

In conclusion, Kyoto City Subway system Tozai Line is a very convenient and reliable mode of travel within Kyoto City. If you visit Kyoto, you should be sure to make the best use of this form of public transportation to reduce your travel times, and make your stay more enjoyable.

 

Doi-Master Picklers Of Kyoto

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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/)

京のはんなり漬 WS40   (秋冬)【送料無料】イメージ

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)