Kyo-yuzen

January 21, 2017

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 – Karasuma Line

by Yumika Fujii and Erica Wada

 

Kyoto StationJapan has a lot of public transportation, for example, Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, has an amazing fifteen subway lines. You can transfer everywhere by those subway lines, but it is very complicated even for Japanese tourists. However, there are only two lines in the Kyoto City Subway system: The Karasuma line and the Tozai line. If you read this article and master the Kyoto City Subway system, you can enjoy Kyoto with more ease and comfort of movement. Here we would like to introduce to you some of the main points and interesting features of this very important part of the Kyoto travel network.

 

Karasuma LineThe Karasuma Line

The Karasuma line was the first subway line in Kyoto City when, in 1981, the line connecting Kitaoji station to Kyoto station started. The extent of the line grew longer and longer until it reached its present length in 1997. The railway runs under Karasuma Street, north to south, between Kokusaikaikan station and Takeda station. In the beginning, the Karasuma line trains consisted of only four cars, but now they consist of six cars, following the connection to Takeda Station. There are actually fifteen stations now, numbered K1 to K15, and all the stations are located in Kyoto City, with the express and regular trains all stopping at every station.

Imadegawa Station

Imadegawa StationImadegawa Station is located in Kamigyo ward, Kyoto city, and the station number is K6. Imadegawa Station was opened in 1981 which was at the same time the line first began operations. This station is very close to the Kyoto Imperial Palace (Gosho), which is one of the most famous traditional places in Kyoto. Imadegawa station is really only close to the Gosho or Tohoganji Temple, therefore if tourists want to go to the other popular places, they would really need to use the Tozai subway line, Kyoto city buses, or Kyoto bus. However, compared to the Tozai line, the Karasuma Line is more convenient for schools and businesses.

 

Connecting to Universities in Kyoto

In the north of the city especially, the Karasuma line is a key transport link to a number of large universities. For example, Kyoto Seika University and Kyoto Sangyo University both run shuttle buses from Kokusaikaikan station; Kyoto Kougei Seni University is near Matsugasaki station; Kyoto Notre Dame University is near Kitayama station; Otani University is close to Kitaoji station; the Imadegawa campus of Doshisha University and Doshisha Womens’ University is close to Imadegawa station; the Kyoto campus of HeianWomens’ University is close by Marutamachi station; the Murasakino campus of Bukkyo University is accessible from Kitaoji station and the Shijo center is near Shijo station. As you can see, many universities have a station on the Karasuma subway line nearby, so this is one of the most important transportation methods for students in Kyoto to commute every day.

 

Kitaoji Bus Terminal

This is a big bus station hub located on the basement level of Kitaoji subway station and a large department store called Vivre. The buses that leave here head to Kyoto Sangyo University, Kamigamo Shrine, Kinkakuji temple, Shugakuin, and many other tourist spots all across the city. This makes the subway and the bus station a major transport hub for Kyoto City.

Karasuma Oike Station

Karasumaoike StationKarasuma Oike station used to be just another station until the Tozai Subway line was established, and the area near Karasuma Oike station was not well developed either. However, after the Tozai line started operations, Karasuma Oike station became one of the major stations to link the Tozai and Karasuma lines. This meant that the surrounding area also gradually began to develop, and is now a thriving business and commercial district in the city.

 

Kotochika Karasuma Oikestarbucks coffee

Kotochika is a commercial facility inside the subway stations at Yamashina, Kyoto, Shijo and Karasuma Oike, with Kotochika Karasuma Oike established in 2011. The shops and services you can find here are Daily Yamazaki (which is a convenience store with good bread), Kokokarafain (Drugstore), Ohgaki Shoten (Bookstore), Shizuya (Bakery), Raffine (massage and relaxation space), and Starbucks coffee. There are many people who drink coffee, or buy some when they get on the train or before going to their company.  People also want to buy their lunch before going somewhere, or read a book while they are riding on the train. In general, everyone needs something to do to kill time while riding the trains.  This facility is particularly useful for them, as they can buy all they need before boarding or heading out to work or school locally.

 

Tickets

There are many kinds of tickets available for the subway. A book of 11 tickets, from 1 city ward (210yen) to 5 city wards (350yen), can be bought for the price of 10 tickets because of bulk discount pricing. Daytime discount coupon ticket books have 12 tickets but you can only use them on the subway from 10am to 4pm. However, you can buy 12 tickets for the same price as 10 tickets if you purchase this way. There are also other types of transfer tickets that let you change to the other subway line as well as buses: Trafika Kyo card, Surutto KANSAI Miyako card, a booking card for exclusive buses, and so on, are also available.

In conclusion, Kyoto subway has two lines, the Tozai line and the Karasuma line. Both are used by a lot of tourists and a lot of citizens in Kyoto. Most stations on the Karasuma subway line are located near a university in Kyoto, so this line is in comparatively high demand by students living in Kyoto, or from other prefectures. In addition, there are many convenient ticket options that allow tourists to access the subway line during the day. Please use them to go to tourist spots, and enjoy a wonderful relaxing time in Kyoto.

 

 

 

Fushimi: History and Tourist Attractions

by Hayato Tochimori and Yuta Sakurai

Recently the number of tourists from other countries to Kyoto has been increasing. There are many good tourist attractions in Kyoto, like The Golden Pavilion, Kiyomizu Temple, Arashiyama, and so on. However, have you ever heard a place called Fushimi? We can get to Fushimi by train within only 15 minutes from Kyoto station. It is mostly famous for the Fushimiinari Taisha shrine. However, Fushimi also has a very interesting history and a number of other tourist attractions worth visiting.

History of Fushimi

One of surprising facts about Fushimi is that it was a capital of Japan in the Azuchi Momoyama era, which was from 1573 to 1615. A top shogun, which means a leader in Japan at that time was Hideyoshi, and he made his castle in Fushimi. From Fushimi, it was possible to see Nara which is an ancient capital, Kyoto city, Osaka in which he has his private castle. It was very useful for him to check what was happening around the capital, and he loved this place.

Fushimi Inari Shrine

Fushimiinari Taisha shrine is chosen as the place where the tourists from other countries want to visit the most. This shrine is the head one of over 30,000 shrines related to this shrine.  This shrine was built in 711.  Inaritaizin, the god enshrined there, is the deity of fertility, business, and safety of family.  There are a lot of Shinto shrine gate called Torii. It is said that there are over 1,000 Torii in Fushimiinari Taisha shrine, and it is very famous scenery.  Actually, it is very popular spot in Kyoto.  I am going to introduce three more good tourist attractions and goods.

Nihonshu

The term nihonshu means Japanese alcohol, or sake. Fushimi is famous for its production of good quality sake. The reason is because of the superb water in Fushimi, which is near the point at which three big rivers in Kyoto meet: the Kamo river, the Uji river and the Katsura river. Also, spring water from Momoyama-Kyuryo, a mountain in Fushimi, is very clear. Excellent water is necessary for making a good nihonshu, and Fushimi has it. Therefore, the culture of nihonshu developed in Fushimi before the Azuchi-Momoyama era.  When Hideyoshi turned Fushimi into a castle town in the Azuchi-Momoyama era, the nihonshu industry began to develop further and flourish.  Moreover, in Edo period (1603~1867), Fushimi was center of traffic because it had nice roads and three rivers joined there.  Therefore, the demand of products including Nihonsyu increased so much at that time that the culture of Nihonsyu flourished more and more.

For this reason, there are many shuzou (sake breweries) in Fushimi. One of the most famous producers of nihonshu in Fushimi is Gekkeikan, which also has a sake museum. The museum was originally built in 1909. There, we can learn about the history and culture of nihonshu, as well as how to make it. Originally the museum building was a shuzou, but it was remodeled as the museum in 1987.

400 traditional tools to make nihonshu are exhibited in the museum, and we can also study the process of making nihonshu. Moreover, at the end of the museum tour, we can taste three different types of nihonshu made by Gekkeikan. The entrance fee is just 300 yen, so it is not expensive. If you like drinking sake, you should definitely pay the traditional Gekkeikan Sake Museum a visit.

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Gekkeikan Sake Museum


Access to Gekkeikan Sake Museum

Access to Gekkeikan Sake Museum

Access to Gekkeikan Sake Museum


Traditional Sweets

Fushimi is not only famous for its sake, but also its traditional sweets. One famous traditional sweet in Japan is called neri-yokan, which you can buy in just about any convenience store these days. What many people don’t know is that neri-yokan was originally made in a very traditional Japanese sweet shop in Fushimi, called Surugaya-Honpo, which was founded in 1461. Long ago,normal yokan  could not be preserved, so it could not develop in popularity. But Surugaya-Honpo improved this by using agar. The yokan made with an agar is called neri-yokan.

This sweets culture in Fushimi is also related to Hideyoshi. He held some meetings in Fushimi in the old days for a number of daimyo (regional leaders) from different places in Japan. Hideyoshi liked neri-yokan so much that he gave each daimyo neri-yokan as a present during the banquets or tea ceremonies. The daimyo took a liking to neri-yokan and eventually brought it back to their region and made it popular. If you have time, please visit Surugaya-Honpo and taste this traditional Japanese sweet.

http://www.pair-slope.co.jp/0-KYOTO/koto-meguri/kuimonya/kuimonya-1604.html

Surugaya-Honpo


Access to Surugaya-Honpo

Access to Surugaya honpo

Access to Surugaya honpo



Jonangu Shrine

Of course, everyone knows about the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine, but not as many people know about Jonangu Shrine, which is located to the west of the Kintetsu Takeda train station. This shrine was built to protect Kyoto when the capital of Japan was transferred to Kyoto  in 794. A deity of Hoyoke, which is protection from misfortunes coming from a certain destination, is enshrined in the shrine. Also, the deity of warding off evil is enshrined there. Today Japanese people visit Jonangu Shrine and pray for safe construction, travel, commuting, business or moving to a new house in Hoyoke.

For some people, these deities can provide road safety and safe travels. There was a port of Toba in the place of Jonan. The deity of this shrine had always kept an eye on people who travel by ship and Gissha (The oxen-drawn carriage). To this day, the place of Jonan is a point where arterial roads and motorways intersect.

People who hope for road safety visit Jonangu Shrine for purification and prayer. It is possible for you to receive purification of your car at the shrine. Japanese sweets and matcha (powdered green tea) are served at the tea ceremony room to prayers of Hoyoke warding off evil and purifying your car. How about praying for your safety during your trip to Kyoto or other places in Japan in this shrine?

There are five flower gardens related to the Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji) in Jonangu Shrine. Approximately 80 kinds of flowers that are described in the tale are planted in the gardens. You can see drooping cherry blossoms and wisteria in the spring, Chinese lanterns and lotuses in the summer, boneset and maple leaves in the autumn, and camellia in the winter. The admission fee is 600 yen for adults and 400 yen for primary and secondary school students, so this is affordable. If you add 300 yen to the admission fee, Japanese sweets and matcha are served to you in the tea ceremony room. We recommend you visit the beautiful gardens.

Jonangu Shrine

Jonangu Shrine


Access to Jonangu Shrine

Access to Jonangu Shrine

Access to Jonangu Shrine


Conclusion

Of course, when most people hear the word Fushimi, they immediately think of the Fushimiinari Taisha shrine, which is truly amazing. However, it is not the only thing that the Fushimi district of Kyoto has to offer. As you can see, there are other wonderful tourist spots, sweets, and drinks to be experienced. Again, the entire region is only 15 minutes by train from Kyoto station. If you have an opportunity to visit Fushimi, please consider visiting it. You will not be disappointed.

Fukakusa

by Manami Otahara & Miki Sawai

Our travel dairy: Fukakusa’s loves story

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We visited Fukakusa to see Fushimi-inari shrine. It is very famous shrine, so people visited to there from around the world. People visit to see many Torii. Torii separates gods and humans. Torii looks like shrine gate made of wood, the color is bright red. Fushimi-inari shrine is the main shrine of all the inari shrines in Japan. Other Famous place is Fuji-no-mori shrine, it has to with Japanese emperor Tenno.   This shrine is famous Ajisai festival and the god is known for having luck in games, so people visit this shrine. When we visited this shrine, we saw may beautiful Ajisai. Ajisai is one of the flower in summer. Next place was main the temple for this trip. This temple is Gonjo-ji temple. Gonjo-ji temple is has to with our report.

Fukakusa’s love story

 

The place we visited is called Fukakusa. It is called Fukakusa because a long time ago, a person named Shosho-Fukakusa lived there. He loved Onono Komachi. She was most beautiful woman in Japan in Heian period. He loved her, but she didn’t love him, so she got an idea. The idea was very simple, he met her every night for 100 days. Her house and his house were far away. The distance was about 7 km, but he would like her to be his wife, so he met her every night. First day, second day, 97th day 98th day 99th day, he met her with peanuts. On the 100th night, she waited for him. However, didn’t come. That day he died because of heavy snow. The next day she found out that he died. She was very sad, so she was planted his nuts in her village. Later the nut grew and the tree is believed to be 1,000 years old.

Gonjo-ji temple

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Gonjo-ji temple is a very important place. This is where Fukakusa lived.   There is a pond and this pond is where he looked at himself. There is a big Buddha in this temple, and Fukakusa and Komachi are buried here. Her house was in Yamashina. Yamashina is a town on the border of Kyoto and Shiga, so her house and his house were far away. However when she heard that he died, she was very sad. Therefore when she died, she was buried in this temple.

Access

Fushimi-inari shrine

68 Fukakusa Yabunouchi-cho, Fushimi-ku Kyoto

Fuji-no-mori shrine

609 Fukakusatoriizakicho, Fushimi-ku Kyoto

Gonjo-ji

1038 nishimasuyacho, Fushimi-ku Kyoto

The Tale of Genji Museum-Uji city

The Tale of Genji Museum –Uji city

Akiho Kamijo & Shiho Iwasaki

About the Tale of Genji

The Tale of Genji was written by Murasaki Shikibu in the early 11th century (mid Heian era), and consists of 54 chapters (jou). More than 300 characters appear in it, in a story spanning 70 years. Within the work is contained about 800 shu of a 31-syllable form of classical Japanese poetry. This book is sometimes spoken of as the “classic of classics” and one of the greatest works in the history of Japanese literature.The tale itself is divided into three parts:

Part 1 : Hikaru Genji’s birth and his life of splendor and achievement.

Part 2 : Hikaru Genji’s life of anguish and ultimately his death.

Part 3 : The life of Kaoru,the child of Hikaru Genji, fillled with stories of love and tragedy.

 

 The author – Murasaki Shikibu

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Murasaki Shikibu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The author, Murasaki Shikibu, was born around 973 (Ten-en 1) to a middle-class aristocrat Fujiwara no Tametoki. Although we don’t know her real name, she was called Murasaki Shikibu in direct relation to the character of Murasaki no Ue, from The Tale of Genji. In 998 (Chotoku 4), she married Fujiwara no Nobutaka and they had a daughter named Daini no Sanmi. Unfortunately, three years after Daini’s birth her husband died, and it was about this time she began to write The Tale of Genji. Around 1005 (Kanko 2), she became a lady-in-waiting to Fujiwara no Michinaga’s daughter, Shoshi, who was the wife of Emperor Ichijo. In Murasaki Shikibu’s diary, it was written that The Tale of Genji was actually a special gift to Shoshi upon the birth of her son, the Imperial Prince, Atsuhira.

 

The Tale of Genji Museum -Uji City

The tale of Genji Museum is divided into two main areas: The Exhibition Zone and the Information Zone. Here are some of the main features :

Image exhibition of the Tale of Genji and a dynastic picture scroll.

A high-definition video exhibit introduces a fascinating summary of the Tale of Genji and features a model of Rokujoin, the home of Hikaru Genji.

An ox-drawn carriage and period dress exhibit.

There is a restored ox-drawn carriage here, plus a Junihitoe (the ceremonial attire of a Japanese court lady of the period) which symbolizes the level of the circle the characters in the Tale of Genji moved in.

An exhibit showcasing the dynastic culture and many functions of the court.

Here we can view the dresses and articles of furniture of the shinden dukuri style in an architectural representation of a nobleman’s residence in the Heian period. There are also examples of the games and annual events held each season in the Heian period court.

Kakehashi or Connecting Bridge

In this exhibit we can experience the journey from the capital of Heian to Uji that is illustrated in the Tale of Genji.

“Uji jujo” story theater

Here, there is a replica of a famous scene from the work Uji jujo featuring a curtain and a life-size set.

The scenes and fragrance of the Tale of Genji

The fragrances that Heian nobility were particularly fond of are introduced in this exhibit. Many of which are featured in the tale of Genji.

Movie room

We can enjoy another two movies here of the tragic love stories, “Ukifune” and “Hashihime”.

 

 The Role of Uji in the Tale of Genji

Murasaki Shikibu and the ten Uji Chapters

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The Uji Connection

The Ten Uji Chapters start with the chapter Hashi-Hime (Maiden of the Bridge) and conclude with Yume no Ukihashi (Floating Bridge of Dreams).This “bridge” in the story serves to move the setting from the capital to Uji, and also changes the focus of the story from Hikaru Genji to his son, Kaoru, as well as his grandson, Niou no Miya.

Heian aristocrats knew Uji well, and Murasaki Shikibu decided to use this setting to make them feel part of the story. Kyoto at this time was full of very important people, but Uji was a haven where the aristocrats could relax and be themselves. Murasaki Shikibu very skillfully told the stories of the emotional dramas played out between the men and women of Uji, a place that had a lively, yet also dark side

Uji in The Tale of Genji

In the Ten Uji Chapters of The Tale of Genji, Murasaki Shikibu writes about the villa of Hikaru genji’s son, Yugiri, as being on the west side of the Uji River. Actually, this was where Fujiwara no Michinaga, a very influential person of the time, also had a grand home. On the bank where Uji Shrine and Ujigami Shrine are located, she writes of the mountain villa of Hachi no Miya. Fujiwara no Michinaga’s villa on the west bank was later made into Byodo-in Hodo by his son Yorimichi, and still stands today as a prime example of buddhist architectural splendor. However, Ujigami Shrine, where Uji-no-waki-iratsuko, the son of Emperor Ojin is enshrined, is far more modest, and is much more representative of Hachi-no-Miya, who lived alone and lonely.

 

Address: 45-26 Uji-Higashiuchi, Uji City, Kyoto 611-0021

Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Admission until 4:30 p.m.)

Closed: Mondays (or the following day if Monday is a national holiday) and Dec. 28 to Jan. 3

Transport links:

http://www.uji-genji.jp/

 

Nakamura Tokichi—Experiencing the Green Teas of Uji

By Miki Hamada and Emiri Iwagami

 

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A long time ago, Yoshimitsu, the Third Shogun of the Ashikaga Shogunate ordered a tea plantation be made in the hills around Uji, a town southwest of Kyoto. It is know for Byodoin Temple and the Uji River. Ever since, Uji has become well known for its fine green teas. The surrounding environs are especially good for growing tea because of the morning mists that come off the Uji River. Today, Uji is a first-class Japanese tea producing area, and so naturally there are many teashops in the city. Nakamura Tokichi is one of them.The Nakamura family, the founders of Nakamura Tokichi, has been entirely devoted to tea for the past 160 years. Nowadays, their long-established shop has become popular with all kinds of people. In addition to its regular clientele, new customers include young women and Japanese and foreign tourists. Why is Nakamura Tokichi so popular today and loved by so many?

 

Recently the shop embarked on a new project to revitalize its traditions. In 2001 they made café space to sell sweets. There you can try Japanese tea, powdered green tea (macha) and sweets that are made with powdered green tea. Among their sweets are macha chocolates, macha soft ice cream, and jellies. Nama-cha jelly, along with green tea and teabags, are their most popular products. The shop sells various traditional teas as well, both bitter and sweet. Information about each product has been translated into English and is included in the packaging. The opinions of customers are included as well. Seasonal products are also sold. In the spring, the first tea of the season comes in. This is called shin-cha in Japan. Nakamura Tokichi also makes shincha jelly from fresh new leaves. In summer, cold-brewed green tea is sold; in winter, green tea of medium quality is available. Customers can choose from many different tea products all year long.

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There is a beautiful garden in back that has a 200-year-old pine tree. Because its shape resembles that of a boat, it is called Horai-funa-matsu —“the pine in the shape of the boat to Mt. Horai.” Mt. Horai is a mythical mountain where Chinese immortals lived. The tree is 6meters high and the trunk is 1.3 meters in diameter. It is said that it was planted by the second generation of the Nakamura family. The garden has been regularly kept from the second generation. From café terrace you can see this beautiful pine. It received a famous tree award from Uji city.

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In 2009 Nakamura Tokichi was selected as an official “Cultural Landscape,” a UNESCO designation that places value on the mosaic of natural environment, climate and a human livelihood that has been maintained over generations. This designation was created at the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. Nakamura Tokichi was chosen because its head office building is representative of a tea merchant’s house from the Meiji Period. The Nakamura Fujiyoshi Byodoin shop is an historical building that was once the restaurant-inn Kikuya in the Edo period.

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Tea Ceremony Experience

  1. Make macha powder by grinding tea on the millstone.
  2. Enter the special tearoom built in the Genroku era (300 years ago).

You will be served macha jelly.

3. Drink koi-cha by turns. Koi-cha is a thick and strong macha made from high-class green tea powder

4. Drink usu-cha by turns. Usu-cha is a light and weak macha.

Place: tea room Zuishou-an

Time: 45~60 minutes

Expense: 2,160 yen per person

Application: To participate, you have to make reservations.

Tel: 0774-22-7800 / E-mail: shop@tokichi.jp

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Cafe

Business hours:

Weekdays : store 10:00~17:30

Café 11:00~17:30 (last Order17:00)

Holidays:   store 10:00~18:00

Café 11:00~18:00 (last Order17:15)

 

Menu

Macha jelly        Usu-cha                  Kitsune cha soba

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The Taste from Pure Kyoto Water

Sasakishuzo’s Handmade Sake

By Akari Yamamoto Kaho Nishimura

 

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Kyoto’s food culture, and the traditions and skills of saké making are the most important considerations for Sasakishuzou, a Japanese brewing company established in 1893. The company’s location, near Nijo Castle in Kyoto, is known for its very pure and rich water. It is is called Rakuchu. In 2014, Sasakishuzo’s brand of saké named Jurakudai Junmaidaiginnjo (聚楽第 純米大吟醸) was awarded the gold prize for Best Japanese Wine-Glass Saké in one section of the Daiginjoshu Contest. Sasakishuzo has earned respect from several chefs of authentic Kyoto cuisine because its sakés suit these foods very well. This match is very essential for Kyoto cuisine. Sasakishuzo is not only preserving, but passing down traditional Kyoto tastes.

 

Sasaki Akira

Sasaki Akira

 

 

In spite of the fact it was early morning Sasaki Akira took time from his busy schedule at Sasaki Shuzou to have an interview with us. He spoke in  Kansai dialect, so we could feel a close relationship with him and he gave us a very warm welcome. Sasaki always thinks of Kyoto cuisine culture  so we could feel his passion of Japanese saké. He was born in April 1st, 1970 in Kyoto. After working in a sales position for an industrial-machine distribution company, he started the job of saké making at age 25. Now, through events promoting Japanese saké, he is out  to increase the number of  Japanese saké fans. At the end of our interview, we could take this wonderful picture of him with a bottle of Sasakishuzo saké.

 

 

 

Interview

 

KAHO NISHIMURA: What is the characteristic of Sasakishuzou?

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SASAKI AKIRA: I believe the sake our company makes is the most suitable beverage for kyo-ryori (traditional Kyoto cuisine). When Kyoto chefs go to other prefectures to prepare Kyoto dishes they always take our saké with them.

 

 

 

 

IMGP0078AKARI YMAMOTO: We know you also make a non-alcohol Japanese saké. How do you produce this beverage? Why did you decide to make it?

Actually, it is completely different from regular Japanese saké. You know that non-alcohol beer tastes like beer, but our non-alcohol saké does not quite taste like Japanese saké. The reason why we decided to produce is related to our production schedule. We make sake during the fall and winter, so we are not so busy during the spring and summer months. We wanted to make a new beverage that used similar techniques to those of saké making. Therefore we decided to try and make a non-alcohol “saké” during spring and summer and sell it as a seasonal product.

 

 

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KAHO: Do you have any rivals? Which one makes the best saké?

There are many sake companies in Japan. Big companies make half of all saké in Japan and many small local companies make the other half. The smaller companies —like ours— compete on high quality. We always make an effort to brew the best saké we can, but it is a challenge to get customers to choose our product when there are so many other high-quality sakés. However, actually we do not have a bad relationship with other makers. We are actually good friends and give each other help, so our relationship is not like real rivals. We all consider ourselves part of a fraternity that preserves Japanese culture. We believe that we should not be satisfied with just making saké, but that we have a responsibility to educate others about the unique food culture of Kyoto through saké making.

AKARI: Who are the people who come to your shop?

In a single day, we have almost one hundred customers. They might be someone who is visiting from another prefecture for sightseeing, or students on a school trip, or local people. On average, the age of most of most of our customers is from thirty to forty.

KAHO: We will write this article in English so various foreign people will see it. Do you ever think about selling your products overseas? What points about sake do you want to bring to attention to the people in the world?

I think in the future, we should introduce Japanese food culture with Japanese saké to the world. However, I hope to tell them that Japanese food is mostly very good because it has been refined by high techniques.

 

This candy is similar to a whisky bonbon, however it has Japanese sake inside. We can experience a new taste and texture.

Recently, Sasakishuzo is trying to make other special products with Kyoto food companies, a bakery and a traditional Japanese sweet shop. This new project uses thetechniques used to make saké. One technique is called 麹糖化技術 (converting rice with malt to make sugar). The two companies we are working with are Mangetsu and Shizuya. Both are very famous in Kyoto and some of their products are popular as souvenirs. Making sweets and bread that use saké ingredients with these companies is one very good way to expand the Kyoto’s food culture to other places. This candy is similar to a whisky bonbon, however it has Japanese saké inside. We can experience a new taste and texture.

 

 

Exploring Porta

By Chihiro Nakagawa and MayaInoue

When you arrive at Kyoto Station, the first thing that will probably catch your attention will be Kyoto Tower. However, what you won’t see are the crowds of people that fill the shopping mall beneath Kyoto Station every day. Many of them are visitors to Kyoto who come here to buy souvenirs before they head home.

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One of many entrances to Porta

When you arrive after a long train ride, you may feel tired. Some of you might wonder if there are any cafes, restaurants or shops nearby. By descending the escalators or stairs in front of Kyoto Station you will encounter a huge underground shopping mall with all different kinds of souvenir shops, clothing stores, restaurants, bakeries, cafes, and even a Starbucks coffeeshop. This commercial zone is called Porta.

porta entrance2

porta entrance

Porta first opened in 1980 and was the first underground shopping mall in Kyoto. Later, another underground mall was built (with parking lot and subway entrances) below Oike Street, between Kawaramachi and Karasuma streets. Porta was refurbished in 1997 at the same time the new Kyoto Station was being built. In 2009, it was also renovated again on an even larger scale. In 2014, Porta will be refurbished again. Adjoining Porta, there is a smaller shopping area whose name is The Cube.Porta and The Cube are interconnected. There are many more stores in Porta, although the Cube features more fashion shops.

shop

suvenia shop

Also in Porta there are several stores that specialize in popular Kyoto foods and souvenirs, such as yatsuhashi (a cinnamon-flavored confection), macha (powdered green tea), baumukuchen (a western-style cake). Of course, there are not only foods and sweets but also local products such as dyed fabrics, fans, pottery, tea implements and so on. There is an information office next to the centrally located Starbucks. And nearby you can find some ATMs. The office provides guide maps to Porta in several different languages.

map1

map1

Here is the Porta Shopping Guide. It gives you the locations of Porta’s many shops, restaurants, and cafes.  On the left side of this map are some restaurants that offer all kinds of meals—Italian, Chinese, deep-fried pork cutlets, soba noodles, udon noodles, deserts and of course Japanese specials. You can easily find toilets that are clean and easy to use on this map. When you open the Guide further, it shows pictures of the cuisine offered by the various restaurants and cafes in the mall. This is helpful in deciding where to go and eat!

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restaurant

Harvest

One restaurant we especially want to recommend to visitors is Harvest. This restaurant uses only natural organic foods on their large menu.

Harvest also serves vegetables made in Kyoto, which are called kyo-yasai. The menu is good and healthy. Harvest is buffet style,

 so for ¥1500 you can eat a variety of different dishes and soups and go back for more. Of course, the other restaurants in Porta are worth trying too!

portanPortan

Porta’s theme character is called “Portan” (see photo). Portan can be seen entertaining people up and down the mall, especially during Christmas season. You can buy goods based on this cute character in Porta.

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Entrance to the North-South subway line in Porta

As you can see, there are many attractions in here. When you arrive in Kyoto in the morning, you can pick up breakfast and have a cup of cofee before you begin your sightseeing. And when you leave Kyoto you can have dinner and pick up souvenirs. Porta is an especially convenient place for visitors who come to Kyoto by train!

Nintendo

by Keisuke Togashi & Hosokawa Kenichi

Have you ever heard the name “Nintendo”?  Yes, of course, everyone knows this name because of games such as Wii and 3DS. It’s a world famous electronic game company.  I guess most of you have played some kind of game from Nintendo, but did you know that this company started in Kyoto?

The Beginning

On September 23,1889, Fusajiro Yamauchi, an industrial artist, made a company named “Nintendo-Karuta” in Kyoto city, near Heian Shrine.  This was the beginning of the history of Nintendo.  At first they only made and sold ‘hana-fuda’ and nothing else (‘hana-fuda’ is a traditional card game played in Japan).  Their cards were first sold in Osaka and Kyoto, and later became very famous throughout the Kinki area.  After that, ‘hana-fuda’ became a hit with gamblers, and the company grew bigger.  Pro gamblers used new cards for each new game, so earnings from card sales rapidly increased.  Yamauichi, however, wasn’t satisfied only selling these cards, so his company started to produce trump cards and began selling them in Japan in 1907. He also planned to expand his company with the sale of these trump cards, and to do this he focused on collaboration with a tobacco company.  This was because the packets used for cigarettes and the trump cards were about the same size.  They were also both used by people when gambling.  After successful negotiations with the Japan Tobacco Company, ‘hana-fuda’ became very well known to the public and were sold all over Japan.  Thereafter, Nintendo-Karuta became the biggest card making company in Japan.

Nintendo Headquarters

Nintendo Headquarters

 

Paper to Electronics

The first president of Nintendo, Mr. Yamauchi, died in January 1940. After his death, the grandson of the second president was installed as the third president. He introduced a lot of big hit products, such as Disney trump cards and rulebooks. However, he was not only looking at the cards business. He also had intentions on moving into management of the taxi, hotel, and food industries.  Unfortunately, he was largely unsuccessful in this.  Then, in 1964, the Tokyo Olympics was held, and people in Japan were very excited about it.  Following this, they finally lost interest in trump cards, and production was stopped.

Nintendo continued to invent a lot of entertainment goods, but they didn’t sell that well. It was then that a decision was made to go into the electronics field in the toy industry.  No other companies were pushing in this area, and it seemed the only way to make a comeback.

Nintendo Games

The first T.V game for the family was made to fill an order from Mitsubishi.  In the mid-1970s, a famous table electronic game, “Space Invaders” was produced and became a real smash in Japan.  From that point on, many kinds of games were made and distributed by Nintendo.  In the 1980s, Nintendo founded a new company in America call “NOA” Nintendo Of America.  At first, Nintendo in Japan tried to sell a game called “Radar Scope” in America, but it didn’t work well.  After this, another game was made with a character named “Mr. Videogame”.  This character was later to be renamed “Mario”.  In 1981, “Donkey Kong” was introduced and in this game, players had to move Mario around and rescue Princess Peach from the giant gorilla ‘Donkey Kong’ by jumping and climbing over obstacles.  Through all this activity, Nintendo achieved the honor of being acknowledged as the world’s best game creation company.

After the First TV Game

Next, Nintendo decided to focus on the market for businessmen who needed to kill time while riding the Shinkansen. From this, the first portable game, “Mr. Game & Watch”, was created in 1980.  The initial target was mainly adults, but many children also liked it, so this portable game became a huge hit in Japan. A few years later, the king of portable games, ‘Game boy’ was created.

Computer Games for the Family

1983 – Family Computer (Fami-Kon)

1985 – “Super Mario Brothers” (the first big hit game from Nintendo)

1996 – Nintendo 64 (first 3D graphics)

1998 – Game boy Color (first full color portable game)

2001 – Nintendo Game cube

2004 – Nintendo DS (first touch screen game)

2006 – Wii (first wireless remote and internet service)

2011 – 3DS (world’s first 3D portable game)

2012 – Wii U

After the success of the Super Mario series, Nintendo became more famous than ever. Almost every Japanese citizen knew the name “Nintendo”, and it soon went global.  No one could ever have predicted that the simple ‘hana-fuda’ Company that almost went under many times, would go on to become the world’s most famous game company.

Address and Access

Kyoto city Minami-ku Kamitoba, Hokotate-cho 〒601-8501

About 7 minutes on foot from Karasuma Jujo subway station (exit 3 or 4)
About 5~10 minutes by taxi from JR Kyoto station

Kyoto’s Top Sake Maker: Gekkeikan

by Yuria Shinya

Gekkeikan (月桂冠) is one of the most famous brands of sake, or rice wine, in Japan. The Gekkeikan brand is the result of a very long history; the Gekkeikan company has been brewing sake for more than 370 years in the southern part of Kyoto in area known as Fushimi.

Fushimi is an ideal place for sake brewing because of its natural environment. Appropriate temperatures and good-quality water are required to brew sake. In Fushimi, both of these important factors exist.

The city of Kyoto is set in a basin, surrounded by mountains on the north, east and west. These mountains keep Kyoto very chilly in wintertime. A cool temperature of around 5℃ is important to mature sake in a brewery. So cold winter temperatures created by Kyoto’s natural basin is why sake brewing became so deeply rooted here.

Photo 1. The Gokougu spring

Also, especially in Fushimi, there is a lot of high-quality groundwater that has been there since ancient times. One day in the Heian period (794-1185), rare and fragrant spring water started flowing out at a shrine in Fushimi. It was christened “Gokougu” (御香宮, see Photo 1.),by the Imperial Court. This water was soft and full of rich minerals. Sake made from this groundwater felt really smooth on the tongue.

 

 

Photo 2. Large casks

 

Sake used to be matured in huge wooden barrels (see Photo 2). Unfortunately, these are no longer used and sake fermentation is controlled by computers now.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo 3. Gekkeikan Sake Kobo

However, today it is still possible to see the casks and a traditional brewery, which was built in 1906, at the Gekkeikan Okura Kinenkan(月桂冠大倉記念館),which is where the Gekkeikan Memorial Hall is located. This brewery is named Gekkeikan Sake Kobo(月桂冠酒香房, see Photo 3). Here, we are able to see the process of sake– making throughout the year. At this brewery, 40 kiloliters of sake are brewed per year even now.

 

 

The Process of Making Sake

The traditional way of making sake is so complicated, however I will explain in a simple and concise way now.

STEP 1. Wash the rice

→ The grade of sake often depends upon the percentage of polished rice that is used. The rice grain husks are removed to make polished rice.

Casks for washing rice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 2. Steam the rice

→The rice is steamed for around one hour.

Container for steaming

 

 

STEP 3. Making moromi (醪), the sake mash

→ Steamed rice, koji (rice mixed with the micro-organism aspergillus oryze), yeast, and water are put into barrels (see photo 2) and the mixture is allowed to ferment for 20~30 days. Koji  helps turn the rice starch into sugar content; yeast helps to turn the sugar content into alcohol.

STEP4. Squeezing the sake mash

Moromi is put in a bag and squeezed by a big press. From this process sake gains a smooth texture.

Tool for squeezing sake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP5. Fermenting the sake

→ The sake is then is fermented for one year or more.

 

 

Kinds of Sake

More than 50 kinds of sake are sold by Gekkeikan. Each of them tastes a little different. It is fun of to try many different kinds in order to find your favorite one. Below are two kinds of sake and one plum wine made by Gekkeikan. It is possible to sample these at the Gekkeikan Okura Kinenkan(月桂冠大倉記念館).

 

 Tamanoizumi Daiginjo NamaChozosyu(玉の泉 大吟醸生貯蔵酒)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daiginjo means top-quality sake brewed at low temperatures from rice grains milled to 50 percent of weight or less. It is a really fresh and fruity taste. It is better to drink it well chilled.

Ginjosyu (吟醸酒, 甘口/slightly sweet taste)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ginjo means high-quality sake brewed at low temperatures from rice grains milled to 60 percent of weight or less. This is a good, full-bodied sake. The label and shape of the light blue bottle in this picture is a retro design.

Plum wine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This wine, or umeshu in Japanese,  has a delicate taste and flavor of plum. Many plum wines are served as an apertif.

 

 

Access

The Gekkeikan Okura Kinenkan(月桂冠大倉記念館) is in Fushimi ward in southern Kyoto. It is a 5 to 7-minute walk from Chushojima Station on the Keihan Line. Or it is a 10 to 15-minute walk from Momoyama Goryo-mae Station on the Kintetsu Kyoto Line. >> Access Map

It is open from 9:30-4:30PM. And it is closed over New Year holidays and the O-Bon Festival  in mid-August.

Admission: Adults (¥300); Children ,aged 12-17 (¥100); Children, aged 0-11 (free).
Please make reservations in advance for group visits.

TEL+81-(0)75-623-2056

There are more detail information on this website. >>The Gekkeikan Okura Kinenkan(月桂冠大倉記念館)