SIZUYA~Kyoto’s Bakery with Heart

November 3, 2014

By AKARI YAMAMOTO KAHO NISHIMURA

 

図2Although Japan is typically known as a culture of rice, the consumption of bread has been steadily growing over the past several decades. Bread has become so popular that Kyoto boasts the most bakeries per capita of any city in Japan. One of the oldest and most famous bakeries in Kyoto is Sizuya, which opened its first store on Kawaramachi Street in 1948.

Last year Sizuya cerebrated its 65th year in business.  Sizuya has many branches throughout the city and is popular not only among Kyotoites, but tourists too. There is even a Sizuya branch near our university. The popularity of some of Sizuya’s products has been the result of features done on it by popular TV programs, magazines and newspapers. We decided we wanted to talk to a store manager and find out more about why Sizuya has been so successful.

Naoko Iura

Naoko Iura

 

 

 

 

Naoko Iura is the manager of a new Sizuya branch named Kotochika. It is located in front of the gates for the subway line at Kyoto Station. In spite of the fact it was early morning, Ms Iura took time from her busy schedule to have an interview with us. She always wears an attractive smile for customers and is full of energy. We could tell she maintains good relationships with other staff members because we felt the store had such an easy-going atmosphere.

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Interview 

 

 

KAHO NISHIURA: Why do people have an image that if the bread is from Kyoto then it is Sizuya bread?

 

NAOKO IURA: Because the head store is in Kyoto. Although there are some shops in Osaka and Shiga. Also, Sizuya first opened in downtown Kyoto where a lot of people go shopping. Kyoto consumes the most amount of bread of any city in Japan. They have a very long history, since 1948. So the residents of Kyoto have come to love bread.

 

 

AKARI YAMAMOTO: What are the special characteristics of Sizuya?

Every month seven to nine new products are released. We also have a wide variety of sandwiches for sale. You can buy Sizuya bread anytime because there are many stores throughout the city.

 

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Why did Sizuya open only in Kyoto Prefecture?

Ever since the establishment of our first store, Kyoto citizens have loved and supported us. From now on we, the department of management, have been thinking that we should somehow contribute to society in the future. It’s added value that you can’t buy in any other place. Also Kyoto strengthens the brand.

 

 

 

図7 Why is Shizuya best known for its “carnet”?

 

To start with, Sizuya was picked up in a popular TV show called “Himitsu-no-kenmin Show!” and then we  appeared on other TV programs and in magazines. Our carnet was featured, so it became widely known all over Japan.

 

 

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How many items of bread do you make?

I can’t answer exactly, but within our products, there are about 100-110 different kinds of breads and sweet-rolls. There are about 20-30 different kinds of sandwiches. So about 120~140 items in total.

 

 

Does each shop have different kinds of bread?

Best-selling products such as sweet rolls and sandwiches are sold in every shop, but the number of products that can be sold in each shop is different because each shop is different in size and space. The shops that have big floor space deploy many kinds of products. However the shops that have a kitchen, or are close to a Sizuya factory, or shops in the station, sometimes sell their own original breads and sandwiches.

 

How many foreign people come to  KOTOCHIKA KYOTO in a day?

About 50 people.

 

How many Sizuya outlets are in department stores and supermarkets like AEON?

 There are 24 shops.

 

Which is the most popular selling shop?

The shop in Kyoto Station.

 

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What is the difference of Sizuya and Sizuya Pan?

Sizuya is a bakery that provides safe and delicious breads to the people of Kyoto. It has sweet rolls and sandwiches. Even deserts are developed there. Some of its stores have a small café where people can eat and have coffee or tea. On the other hand, Sizuya Pan is another brand which has the phrases “a small present” and “ connecting people and heart.” It is run as a specialty store for anpan, buns with sweet-bean paste inside. Sizuya Pan collaborated with a famous designer to come up with stickers and the product’s package. Also, shops are totally different from existing Sizuya shops and they are designed with simple white and black colors.

 

 

Why do you think Sizuya has continued to be loved for 65 years? 

Because the policy of our founder, Mokoto Hori, has been taken to heart by all of our staff. It is…

1. to care your health.

2. business is not just a business; sell with your heart.

3. when deciding the price of  a product think from the position of the customer.

4. do not forget shops are there for the customers.

5. give your cooperation and make an effort to improve your skills.

 

That is wonderful! Thank you for your time.

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.