Kamishichiken and its shops

October 16, 2017

by Riho Miyagi, Akane Mukai and Yuuka Yamazaki

 

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

 

What is Kamishichiken?

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

 

The Kamishichiken Kaburenjo Theater

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

 

Shops near kamishichiken

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

 

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

 

Tsukemono

by Sakina Nishitsuji, Nami Shinkado and Shiho Tojo

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

History of Tsukemono in Japan

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

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

 

Three Popular Varieties of Tsukemono

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

The Old Tsukemono Shops of Kyoto

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

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

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

Cafe

By Shiho Tojo, Nami Shinkado and Sakina Nishitsuji

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

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

MACCHA HOUSE

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

Location

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

JOUVENCELLE

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

Location

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

GREEN TEA FONDUE

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

Location

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

IPPODO-CAFE

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

Location

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

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

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.

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/)

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

 

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

(permission to use photos given by Mr. Doi)

 

 

 

Kyoto BAL

By Yumika Fujii, Erika Wada & Konomi Shimbashi

frontThere are many shopping stores in the Kawaramachi shopping district in downtown Kyoto. The name of the district comes from Kawaramachi-dori, which is one of the main streets running north and south in Kyoto city. People who live in Kyoto and Kansai call the entire area ‘Kawaramachi’. There are many popular places in Kawaramachi, such as big amusement arcades, fast food shops, fashion buildings, department stores and so on. In addition, there are some famous places, such as Gion and Yasaka Shrine near Kawaramachi, so you can go there on foot. Both young people and elderly people can enjoy themselves in Kawaramachi because there are many traditional souvenir shops and modern restaurants. But among those, one historical place to shop is an impressive building called Kyoto BAL. The Kyoto BAL building has a long history of about 40 years, and a lot of people have loved it for a long time. However, recently it closed for 2-and-a-half years in order to rebuild and change the concept of the store.

Kyoto BAL

The BAL has two stores in Japan: in Kyoto and Hyogo. The Kyoto BAL is located just south of the intersection of Kawaramachi Street and Sanjo Street, on the east side of Kawaramachi. There are 8 floors, 2 in the basement and 6 above the ground, including 33 shops. Kyoto BAL was first built in November, 1970, as a building devoted to fashion-related shops that has a lot of attractive merchandise. Therefore, many people come to shop at BAL and they have loved it for a long time.  The original concept of BAL is the place where a lot of people can get together, like a party in France.

Recently, BAL has been closed down for renovation. The purpose was not only to change its appearance, but also its interior and concept. The result was a business space that three generations of parent, child, and grandparent can enjoy together. For example, there is the Café and Meal MUJI on the fourth floor, which is a café where you can enjoy the natural flavor of vegetables or fruits. This would be attractive to parents and grandparents. Children, on the other hand, can enjoy the colorful goods at Flying Tiger Copenhagen of Kyoto BAL annex, which is also located on Kawaramachi-dori. There is also the Tiger SpilBar on the third floor, where you can enjoy playing table tennis, table soccer, the board games, and so on. In addition, people can drink a glass of beer or a cup of coffee, so adults can enjoy it, too.

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The Appearance and The Interior

The appearance and the interior was significantly changed in 2015. The inner and outer appearance of the BAL is like a traditional American luxury hotel. The floor is made of wood, and the aisles is quite wide. In addition, there are many windows on each floor, giving a bright and expansive feeling to customers when they shop. Furthermore, a lot of sofas are set around the elevator hall, near the escalator, and also inside the shops on each floor so that customers can take a rest while shopping. Especially, the restroom for women on the 4th floor is bigger than any other, and is based on a beautiful white space, giving it a European atmosphere.

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Maruzen Bookstore

For many years, the book store called Maruzen was a Kyoto BAL mainstay. However, it disappeared from the BAL building in the mid-2000s for about 10 years. Fortunately, however, the historic Maruzen bookstore is back in the Kyoto BAL again. Maruzen is famous for the novel, Lemon (檸檬), written by Motojirou Kajii (梶井基次郎).   Motojirou Kajii was born on February 17th, 1901 in Osaka, and his life ended when he was only 30-years-old. He was a Japanese novelist, and he continued to write a lot of novels while he struggled with disease. Therefore, he is the one of the most famous novelists because he wrote a novel which combined the sensory with the perceptual. It is said that the famous novel, Lemon, is one of his masterpieces. In the novel, Maruzen is one of the featured locations. For this reason, Maruzen and Lemon will forever be intertwined.

Maruzen   book store   Maruzen

Maruzen was first built in 1872 and then relocated to Sanjo Street in 1907. After that it was relocated in its current spot in 1940, but in 2005 it closed down. During its existence, many fans of the novel, Lemon, put real lemons in front of the Maruzen while they felt sad. And now that is back in new Kyoto BAL, it is bigger than ever, spanning both the 1st and 2nd floors of the basement including a cafeteria where people can taste Lemon cake. Also, it features about 1 million Japanese books, including manga (comic) and study-aid books, and about 70 thousand foreign books. In additional, it has not only books, but also writing materials. Now that Maruzen is back, Lemon fans can once again put out real lemons when they feel sad.   As you can see, although there are many shops in the Kawaramachi district of Kyoto, it is Kyoto BAL that is one of the most historic and attractive buildings in the area. If you visit Kyoto, why don’t you go to Kyoto BAL and enjoy your time with family and friends.

Access to the Kyoto BAL

251 Yamazaki-cho, Kawaramachi-Sanjo Sagaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-city, KYOTO, Japan   You can go there by taxi easily, if you tell this address to a taxi driver. It takes seven minutes on your foot from Kawaramachi station, Hankyu It takes eight minutes on your foot from Sanjo station, Keihan It takes five minutes on your foot from Shijo Kawaramachi, bus stop of Kyoto City Bus.

Candy Culture in Kyoto

by Akane Kitakido and Narumi Kitagawa

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

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

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

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Kinds of Candy

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

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

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A Wonderful Shop: Nanaco Plus+

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

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Products of Nanako Plus+

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

Interview from Nanaco plus+

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

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

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

candy nanaco

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

 

Access

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

The great sento of Kyoto ~Nishiki-yu~

Ayaka Murai, Hikari Yanai & Daichi Hatakeyama

The great sento of Kyoto ~Nishiki-yu~

 

 

Most people spend their bath time only to take a bath and shower themselves. How do you want to enjoy your bath time? There is one traditional public bath here in the city of Kyoto called Nishiki-yu. A number of people really like to go to the public bath.  So, I would like to introduce about this great public bath.

 

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Sento is one of the cultures of Japan. Japanese people call the public bath sento. Nishiki-yu has a long history. It opened in 1927. It is in the center of Kyoto citiy’s, Nishiki market. Nishiki market is called the kitchen of Kyoto. The place is famous for tradition and culture in Kyoto. It is near Karasuma station on the Hankyu line. It takes only 5 minutes to walk to the public bath from the station. So, I recommend you take a train and walk to go to this public bath. Nishiki-yu is usually open from 16:00 to 24:00, but every Monday, it is closed.

 

noren When I visited there, there were Japanese shop curtains,noren, which are hung outside the entrance and has the shop’s name written on them. It seems that they change their color to deep blue during Gion-matsuri and New Year holidays. I would like to see the special noren. In addition, the outside is very tasteful. It is a three-storied, wooden building like the traditional Kyoto-style house called Machiya. Nishiki-yu has been featured in various magazines .

 

image2 In side this public bath is quite tasteful too. The bathtub is very hot for the first customer. The temperature is about 43 degrees. The bath is filled right up to the brim and spills over with new bathwater every time. So the bathwater is clear every time.

 

 

 

 

 

Regular customers of this public bath leave their basket at the changing room. It has their name written on the it. This basket is a traditional craft, and the price is about 40,000 yen. You can use the basket in this public bath, but you have to use this basket carefully, because of its high price. In addition, not anyone can make it anymore. However, sento visitors have decreased in Japan recently. So the owner set up some events to draw more guests to this public bath. For example, comic story telling party, music party, second hand book fair, Japanese summer cotton kimono on the spot sale party, and so on. You can also listen to jazz music only in this public bath in Japan. The manager, Mr. Hasegawa, likes music very much. He especially likes jazz music. He has a lot of CDs in his watch stand. As a result of these events, more tourists came to Nishiki-yu. I became popular for young people. Everyone can become friends in this public bath. Sometimes apprentice geisha, Maiko-san, come to this public bath. Maybe if you are lucky, you can meet one.

 

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After taking a bath please go to Nishiki market. You can feel more Kyoto style. If you want to feel Kyoto in your bones and meet people who will be your friends, please go to Nishiki-yu.

 

Kyo-Kanoko

 

Learning how to Kyo-Kanoko: A special trip to the Miyako-messe

 

by Manami Otahara & Miki Sawai

14/12/2015

 

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Today we went to Miyako-messe. Miyako-messe is a museum, you can see traditional crafts in Kyoto. When we entered in Miyako-messe, we were very surprised, because there are many people in there. In Miyako-messe, you can see demonstration by craftspeople. The demonstrations are very powerful, so we were excited. Next, we went to the souvenir corner. You can buy many kind of traditional crafts. For example, scarfs, bags, hair accessories and so on, however we were most impressed by the Kanoko.

There are 74 traditional crafts in Kyoto. Everybody knows about kimono, however not everyone knows Kanoko. What is Kanoko? There are two patterns of kimono, one is dyed, another is woven. Kanoko is dyed cloth. Kanoko is used for Kimono and Kanoko is one of the 74 crafts.  However it is different from dyed Kimono. There are many bits and wrinkles. How is it made? It is made from one piece of cloth. The cloth is made by craftspeople. Craftspeople twist one by one.

How many twists do you think it takes to make Kanoko? One hundred? One thousand? This Kimono is twisted three hundred thousand times. When people make Shibori Kimono, it takes 6 months to 1 year. Why does it take a lot of time?   Why is called it Kanoko shibori?   The reason is because Kanoko means young deer in Japanese. Japanese people believe Kanoko looks like a deer pattern, therefore people say Kanoko.

History

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In 7c, Kanoko was introduced to Japan from India. This was written about in a book and there are some Waka poems about Kanoko Shibori from 7c as well. In 10c, Shibori was worn by princesses, princes, and rich people. In the Edo period, it was around as a brand clothes in Japan, and it was made in Kyoto, which was called Kyo-Kanoko Shibori. For a long time, craftspeople passed on the technique of how to twist from generation to generation.

In Kyoto, are there many souvenirs? If you come to Kyoto, what souvenir will you buy? Sweets? Kimono? Macha? I recommend Kanoko. Kanoko is used to make hair accessories and it is a reasonable price. Kanoko Kanzashi is a good item, because Maiko wear Kanzashi. Kanzashi is a hair accessory, and it is able to hold up your hair with only one stick. It is very cute! Another one is furoshiki, it is big cloth, so it can wrap ground something. For example, you can wrap a present in it to become a bag so it is easy to carry. If you come to Kyoto, you should buy a Kanoko item for a souvenir for your family.

Address

Miyako-messe

9-1, Okazaki Seisyoji-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 606-8343

Yōkai Street

by Kanako Murakami and Ayane Yoshikura

Kyoto and Ghosts

The old capital, Kyoto has been connecting with a lot of ghosts since ancient days. On Ichijyo-street at Jyokyo-ku in the north part of Heian-kyo and it is said there is a border line between the daily life and not so. Ichijyo-street is the place where people meet ghosts. Now, this street is famous as Yōkai Street.

Yōkai Street

Yōkai Street

Yōkai Street is located in Jyokyo-ku, Kyoto and its official name is “Taishōgun shopping street”. These are many ways to set here. The nearest stations are Kitanohakubai-cho on the Keihuku Electric Railway and Kitanotenmangu by Kyoto city bus. You can go by the easily walk from either station. It is easy to find this street because there are some flags at the beginning. This project started in 2005 by Mr. Jyunichi Kono, a ghost’s culture researcher. The first function was a costume parade of ghosts in 15 October 2005. They reenacted HyakkiYagyō by marching down the Ichijyo-street dresse as ghosts. HyakkiYagyō is a parade with lots ghosts in midnight. It is said these are found mainly age of Heian in Kyoto. Ghost events are not only at Yōkai Street. Randen- Yōkai Train held at Arashiyama Electric Railway is another event. Usually the rate for adults is 200 yen and child is 100yen but if you dress as a ghosts, your rate will only be 50yen. Anyone adults and children participate in this event. There is also a costume contest.

Ghosts in Yōkai Street

Ghosts in Yōkai Street have great originality and they are very mysterious. There are some ghosts who are designed in the motif of goods are sold at stores in Taishōgun shopping street and some ghosts who are famous in Japan. For example, a ghost which is designed like a loaf of bread in a bakery, at a fish shop, it is designed like a fish, in a drugstore, it is designed like a bandage. There are also Nurarihyon (the ghost who looks like an old man with big head and he is sometimes said to be leader of ghosts), Rokuro-kubi (the ghost who wears a kimono and most people think that this ghost has the ability to stretch its neck to great length) and neko-mata (a monster cat) which is famous in Japan. The most popular ghost is white bread-ojisan who lives in a bakery.

white bread-ojisan

white bread-ojisan

Taishōgun shopping street has a mascot character, Yagyōdōji. It is not designed like a product though. Yagyōdōji is a child who has three eyes. He is considered to be a messenger of the god, Henge Daimyojin. This god can change old tool to ghosts. Yagyōdōji is active in some events, not only in Yōkai Street, but also in Kyoto. For example, in Yōkai Street, Yōkai art flea market, an event where the general public sells their original goods of the ghosts and Ichijo Street HyakkiYagyō, an event where the people disguised as a ghost parades around the Ichijo street take place several times a year. The ghost of old tools is called Tsukumogami. It’s said that the idea appeared from the ancient people’s mind to save old tools. In Taishōgun shopping street, they hand down the importance of recycling through Tsukumogami.

Revitalization of a town by ghosts

In 2005, Ichijo Street was renamed Yōkai Street. The street started revitalization of a town by ghosts. Some goods of ghosts are sold in the shopping street. For example, Yōkai korokke which is a green croquette, Yōkai ramen which is a black ramen and so on. These entertained the people who visit the street. And Yōkai camera which is application for smart phone has been provided. You can take a picture which includes a ghost when people take a picture in Yōkai Street with this application. Things like these have been an opportunity to visit increase to Yōkai Street.

A big influence of Yōkai Street

Yōkai Street is a landmark event that connected old tradition and shopping street having necessaries of life. But now many shopping streets are out of vogue in Japan. The biggest reason is the appearance of large commercial complexes. Many shopping streets are decreasingly. But if you come here, you may feel something warm all its own. There are many not chain stores, only family run shops. The shop assistants and customer are very close. Yōkai Street is a big chance to take back former Taishōgun shopping street. I hope that everyone will visit here not only on event days but every day to buy something and enjoy talking to the local people.