Gion Hatanaka ryugin

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Noh Theater

服部 英二 (Eiji Hattori)

"The Noh, it's the pursuit of the ideal beauty of things."

       The Noh Theater is the legacy of the oldest forms of Japanese theater. It was at first religious celebration, to please the deities and ensure their goodwill for the harvest. It changes through time, with the arrival of Buddhism.

«As might be expected, Barrault [...], was struck by the intimate blending of dance, music, mime, text, chant, which makes of the Noh a total kind of theater. Particularly fascinating, however, is Barrault's sensitivity to the symbolism of the fan and to the inwardness of the Noh experience. "
(Theater East and West: Perspectives toward a Total Theater, PRONKO, p.94)

The most commonly used prop in Noh is the fan, as it is carried by all performers regardless of role.  With an incredible talent of mime, it's almost like performers will really turn the fan into another object.

The Noh Masks: 

In Noh, the main performer always wears a mask while playing. It's like wearing make-up, but some people see in Noh masks something more spiritual "than a prop used to change ones appearance."  Thus, it seems natural that there is a great variety of them. "There were originally about 60 basic types of Noh masks, but today there are well over 200 different kinds in use." 
 If you look well into cultural activities to do during a long journey to Japan, you might be able to find a master that will show you how to carve your own Noh mask.

For example, Ryugin's manager, KOZAKI, carved a beautiful Noh Mask under GENPAKU Kitazawa-sensei's teachingson of professor Nyoi, whom used to be a well known master in the cultural community.

北沢・元白 先生 - GENPAKU Kitazawa-sensei

Pictures: KOZAKI 

- Theater East and West: Perspectives toward a Total Theater, from Leonard Cabell Pronko
- 出会いの風景 or 世界の中の日本文化  服部 英二

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Come enjoy the Gion Matsuri in Kyoto

The festival took place for the first time in 869; it was a religious ceremony to prevent plagues and natural disasters. Nowadays, the festival of Yasaka shrine in Kyoto, Gion Matsuri, is probably the best known Japanese festival. It lasts the whole month of July, so come enjoy it!

The main event is on the 17th with the YAMABOKO PARADE:

“The world Yamaboko refers to the two types of floats used in the procession: the 23 yama and 10 hoko. One of the reasons the Gion Matsuri is so impressive is the enormity of the hoko, which are up to 25 meters tall, weigh up to 12 tons, and pulled on wheels as big as people.”

On the 14th to the 17th of July, at night, you will be able to attend the YOIYAMA festival: floats are put on display, within a festive atmosphere, traditional music and street hawkers.

On the 16th, at night, every traditional district is illuminated with lanterns, hangings and floral banners.   


Friday, 27 June 2014

Popular snack in Japan : Taiyaki (たい焼き)

Taiyaki litterally "baked sea bream" is a fish-shaped pancake that is usually filled with Azuki red bean paste. But it also comes with different favors such as chocolate or custard. Taiyaki is said to have been invented first in 1909 by a shop in Azabujuban. 

Although they're frequently sold from temporary stalls  (street sellers near temples, during festivals or farmers' markets), there are also few permanent places that make selling taiyaki a full-time business. I advise the one below in Kyoto.

幸せの黄金鯛焼き 清水寺店
        Price :         ~ ¥150
      Address :      126-2 Kiyomizu 5 Chome, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto prefecture 
605- 0862
      Access :        Kiyomizu Gojo Station
      Phone :          075-551-3160

Source :  &

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine

Fushimi Inari Taisha is one of the oldest Shinto Shrine in Kyoto. Locally called “Oinari-san”, it is the main shrine of all the Inari shrines in Japan. People originally went there to prey for fertility, grain harvest, sake and tea, but now it’s more about business and general prosperity.

If you decide to go visit the shrine, we advise that you wear sneakers. Indeed, as the shrine is located on the sacred Mount Inari, it would take some time and efforts to reach the edge (Around 30 minutes). But all along the path, you will be able to enjoy the beautiful forest scenery and the red sacred gates (Torii).

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine
          Address:          68 Fukakusa, Yabunouchi-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto City
          Open :             8:30 AM - 4:00 PM
          Fee :                No charge
          Access :          JR Nara Line to "Inari ".Keihan Line to "Fushimi Inari".
          Website : (Japanese)

Source :

Friday, 2 May 2014

French Brasserie in Kyoto,

Bonjour Kyoto, 

Since it’s opening in 2007, the Brasserie Café ONZE offers authentic French Cuisine. As a matter of fact, the staff members practiced French cooking before opening the bistro. It is now a popular weekend hangout. 

You will be able to enjoy handmade dishes such as rillette and traditional terrine to eat with warm bread.  A wide variety of beers and wines are available at reasonable prices, so make your choice and taste a bit of France in Kyoto.

Brasserie Café ONZE - オンズ・ブラッスリーカフェ
600-8012 京都府京都市下京区木屋町通四条下る斎藤町125
Hours 15:00 to 1:00
Regular holidays on Tuesday