The “Saikusho” that produced samurai furnishings

[ Beauty and techniques of handicraft inherited in Kanazawa -1- ]

In Kanazawa, a variety of traditional handicrafts still remain and are rooted in everyday life, helping to boost the cultural and artistic level of the city. We will explore the beauty and roots of the handicrafts that have been passed down in this city.

 


Kanazawa’s roots as a city of traditional handicrafts date back to the Edo period (1603–1868), a time when the samurai reigned.

 

During the Edo period, the Maeda family, who were daimyo (feudal lords), ruled over the Kaga clan with Kanazawa as its capital city. From the time of the first lord, Toshiie, successive lords of the Maeda family maintained a deep interest in cultural projects through tea ceremonies. In particular, the third lord, Toshitsune, was an outstanding cultural lord.

At that time, the extent of the land owned by a clan throughout the country was indicated by the “Kokudaka.” This was a measure of the productivity of the land as expressed by its rice yield. The Kaga clan had a kokudaka of one million, which was the highest in Japan.

The great Kaga clan posed a threat to the Edo shogunate. In order to demonstrate his obedience to the government, as well as to show his family status as Japan’s top daimyo, Toshitsune spent his financial wealth, worth a kokudaka of one million, on arts and crafts, including martial arts.

*Maeda Toshitsune/ quote a photo from wikipedia

 


In Kanazawa Castle, there was a workshop called “Saikusho” as a symbol of the Kaga clan’s cultural incentive measures.

It was originally a place for repairing tools and weapons, but Toshitsune gradually transformed it into a craft studio for creating luxurious daimyo-style furnishings for the Maeda family. Along with this, many skilled craftsmen were invited from different places, such as Kyoto and Edo, as instructors of the Saikusho. This led to the foundation of Kanazawa’s arts and crafts techniques, which have been passed down to the present, including “Kaga Maki-e” and “Kaga Zogan, inlay.”

 

The techniques held by the Saikusho within the castle eventually spread to the studios that were run by the townspeople living in the castle town. This led to the formation of an unprecedented rich bank of craftsmen in Kanazawa. Indeed, the dyed kimono that served as the origin of today’s “Kaga Yuzen” was not created at the Saikusho, but rather by a dyer in the castle town who was patronized by the Kaga clan.

“Kaga Maki-e”

 

The Saikusho was further enhanced and developed by the fifth lord, Tsunanori, in terms of both its organization and roles. It remained as a clan-owned arts and crafts studio right up to the end of the Edo period, which was a rare thing across the whole country.

 


 

If you wish to see the great skills and aesthetics of the artisans from that time, visit the “Seisonkaku” history museum adjacent to Kenrokuen Garden. Nariyasu, the 13th lord of the Kaga clan, built it as his mother’s retirement home, with the craftsmanship of the Kaga clan featuring in both the works inside the building and in the collections on display.

 


Seisonkaku Villa

  • Open 9 am to 5 pm (Visitors must enter by 4:30pm)
  • Closed Wednesdays (Next day if Wednesday falls on a holiday) and Dec. 29 to Jan. 2
  • Admission fee Adult: 700 yen
  • Address 1-2 Kenroku-machi
  • Contact Tel. 076-221-0580, fax. 076-221-0593
  • WEB http://www.seisonkaku.com/english

 

 

Takenoko; a taste of spring

Spring is the time to harvest bamboo shoots, or takenoko.

The bamboo plant used to be an indispensable part of daily life in Japan, being used as a building material or as kitchen utensils in the form of chopsticks, food containers, or colanders. Many bamboo tools have been replaced with plastic ones, while takenoko continues to be widely eaten, loved for its crunchy texture and slightly bitter taste.

Here in Kanazawa, the first moso bamboos were cultivated in 1766 and were introduced into the suburbs of the city. Nowadays, the city certifies 15 types of indigenous vegetables as ‘Kaga Yasai’ branded products, one of which is takenoko.

Takenoko is only harvested when the shoots are very young, just after the green tips poke through the soil, which is why they are called takenoko (lit. means ‘child of bamboo’). Takenoko are used in a wide variety of dishes, while takenoko rice, simmered takenoko, and tempura are traditional favorites. Freshly dug ones can be simply sliced and eaten raw.

Despite the fact that many vegetables are grown in greenhouses nowadays to satisfy year-round demand, takenoko are harvested only once a year. It is said that takenoko will sprout from the ground 7-10 days after the cherry trees start to blossom. Both are eagerly anticipated by Japanese people as signs of spring.

Takenoko, à l’aube du printemps

Le printemps est la saison des récoltes des pousses de bambou “takenoko“.

La plante de bambou était indispensable dans la vie quotidienne japonaise, utilisée comme matériau de construction ou comme ustensiles de cuisine sous la forme de baguettes, de bols, d’assiettes ou encore comme passoires.
Aujourd’hui, beaucoup de ces objets ont été remplacés par des outils en plastique, mais le “takenoko“ reste un aliment très populaire, apprécié pour sa texture croquante et son goût légèrement amer.

Ici à Kanazawa, les premières «moso» (pousse de bambous) ont été cultivées en 1766, à l’époque plantées en banlieue. De nos jours, la ville certifie 15 catégories de ce légume et l’une d’entre elle est représentée par la marque Kaga Yasai.

Le takenoko n’est récolté que lorsque les pousses sont très jeunes, juste après que les pointes vertes sortent du le sol. C’est pourquoi on les appelle takenoko (signifie littéralement ‘le petit bambou’). Les takenoko sont utilisés dans une grande variété de plats, avec du riz, mijoté ou en tempura sont des recettes traditionnelles. Lorsqu’ils viennent d’être ramassés, ils peuvent être simplement tranchés et consommés crus.

Pour répondre à la demande tout au long de l’année et malgré le fait qu’ils soient aujourd’hui principalement cultivés dans des serres, les takenoko ne sont récoltés qu’une fois par an. On dit que les takenoko sortiront du sol entre 7 et 10 jours après que les cerisiers commencent à fleurir. Les deux sont donc attendus avec impatience par les Japonais comme signes de l’arrivé du printemps.

Takenoko, un sabor de la primavera

La primavera es la temporada de cosecha del retoño del bambú, takenoko. El bambú, originalmente, era la planta que no podía faltar en la vida del japonés, utilizado como material de construcción y de utensilios de cocina como palillos, contenedores y coladores. Aunque en la actualidad estos han sido reemplazados por productos de plástico, el takenoko es ampliamente consumido hasta estos días, es amada su textura crujiente y su sabor ligeramente amargo.

Aquí en Kanazawa es cultivado por primera vez en 1766 el bambú Moso, e introducido a sus suburbios posteriormente. En el Kanazawa actual se tienen certificados 15 tipos de vegetales endémicos, y el takenoko es uno de ellos.
Se cosechan solamente los retoños jóvenes del takenoko, que parecen colmillos recién salidos (de ahí su nombre, “hijo del bambú”).

Aunque hay varias formas de prepararlo, son tradicionales con arroz, hervidos y en tempura. Los frescos recién cosechados pueden ser rebanados y comidos crudos.

A pesar de ser una sociedad que cultiva bastantes vegetales en invernaderos durante todo el año, el takenoko natural solo se cosecha una vez al año. Se dice que el takenoko muestra su rostro 7 a 10 días después del florecimiento del cerezo, y para los japoneses ambos eventos representan la añorada entrada de la primavera.

Takenoko; a taste of spring

Spring is the time to harvest bamboo shoots, or takenoko.

The bamboo plant used to be an indispensable part of daily life in Japan, being used as a building material or as kitchen utensils in the form of chopsticks, food containers, or colanders. Many bamboo tools have been replaced with plastic ones, while takenoko continues to be widely eaten, loved for its crunchy texture and slightly bitter taste.

Here in Kanazawa, the first moso bamboos were cultivated in 1766 and were introduced into the suburbs of the city. Nowadays, the city certifies 15 types of indigenous vegetables as ‘Kaga Yasai’ branded products, one of which is takenoko.

Takenoko is only harvested when the shoots are very young, just after the green tips poke through the soil, which is why they are called takenoko (lit. means ‘child of bamboo’). Takenoko are used in a wide variety of dishes, while takenoko rice, simmered takenoko, and tempura are traditional favorites. Freshly dug ones can be simply sliced and eaten raw.

Despite the fact that many vegetables are grown in greenhouses nowadays to satisfy year-round demand, takenoko are harvested only once a year. It is said that takenoko will sprout from the ground 7-10 days after the cherry trees start to blossom. Both are eagerly anticipated by Japanese people as signs of spring.

Takenoko, un assaggio di primavera

La primavera è la stagione in cui raccogliere i takenoko, ossia i germogli di bambo.

In passato, la pianta di bambù rappresentava per i giapponesi una parte essenziale nella vita di tutti i giorni. Basta pensare che il bambù veniva usato come materiale edilizio o veniva trasformato in utensili da cucina quali bacchette, contenitori per il cibo o colapasta. Ad oggi molti strumenti di bambù sono stati rimpiazzati ormai da quelli in plastica, tuttavia i takenoko continuano ancora ad essere mangiati da molte persone, e ad essere amati per la loro consistenza croccante e il loro gusto leggermente amaro.

Qui a Kanazawa, i primi bambù “moso” furono coltivati inizialmente nel 1766 e, in seguito, furono introdotti nella zona periferica della città. Attualmente, Kanazawa certifica 15 specie di vegetali indigeni in qualità di prodotti denominati “Kaga Yasai” (letteralmente “vegetali di Kaga”), una delle quali è proprio il takenoko.

Il takenoko può essere raccolto solo quando i germogli sono molto giovani, subito dopo che le gemme verdi sono spuntate (letteralmente significa infatti “bambino del bambù”). I takenoko sono usati in numerose pietanze, mentre il riso ai germogli di bambù, i germogli di bambù fatti cuocere a fuoco lento e la tempura rimangono i piatti tradizionali preferiti. Per esempio, quelli appena raccolti possono essere semplicemente tagliati e mangiati crudi.

Sebbene ad oggi molti vegetali vengano coltivati in serra per poter rispondere alle richieste di mercato durante tutto l’anno, i takenoko sono coltivati solo una volta all’anno. Si dice che i takenoko germoglino dal terreno dopo 7-10 giorni dall’inizio della fioritura dei ciliegi. E pertanto, come segni di primavera, entrambi sono attesi con impazienza dal popolo giapponese.

Kanazawa Sake: brewed in the heart of winter using a blend of pure water and premium rice

The coldest part of winter with its dancing snowfall is the busiest time of the year for Kanazawa’s sake distilleries. Around this time, each sakagura (sake brewery) in Kanazawa enters its peak season of sake brewing. Ishikawa Prefecture, with its cold winters and heavy snowfall, is perfectly suited to sake brewing and is said to be one of the leading sake regions in Japan. There are many established sakagura in Kanazawa, taking pride in their time-honoured tradition while seeking new and innovative tastes.

Water and sake-rice are the principal ingredients of sake and are key in determining its quality. The nearby Hakusan Mountain range ensures that Kanazawa has an abundant supply of fresh, pure water which is high in minerals and low in iron, making it ideally suited to the cultivation of yeast. Local sake breweries have long used premium sake-rice called Yamada Nishiki, as well as high quality local sake-rice Gohyakumangoku.

Traditionally, sake brewing is overseen by a chief brewer called toji. The breweries in Kanazawa recruit tojifrom the Noto Peninsula but from all over country as well, so that they can compete and learn from each other. Also, the rich culinary traditions in Kanazawa have long supported the sake brewing industry.

Sake has been considered a sacred drink and was believed to exorcise evil spirits. That’s why you often see big casks of sake dedicated to Shinto shrines.

[Sake breweries in Kanazawa]

・Fukumitsuya http://www.fukumitsuya.co.jp/english/index.html (English)

・Yachiya http://www.yachiya-sake.co.jp (Japanese)

・Nakamuraya Shuzo http://www.nakamura-shuzou.co.jp (Japanese)

Kanazawa Sake: brewed in the heart of winter using a blend of pure water and premium rice

The coldest part of winter with its dancing snowfall is the busiest time of the year for Kanazawa’s sake distilleries. Around this time, each sakagura (sake brewery) in Kanazawa enters its peak season of sake brewing. Ishikawa Prefecture, with its cold winters and heavy snowfall, is perfectly suited to sake brewing and is said to be one of the leading sake regions in Japan. There are many established sakagura in Kanazawa, taking pride in their time-honoured tradition while seeking new and innovative tastes.

Water and sake-rice are the principal ingredients of sake and are key in determining its quality. The nearby Hakusan Mountain range ensures that Kanazawa has an abundant supply of fresh, pure water which is high in minerals and low in iron, making it ideally suited to the cultivation of yeast. Local sake breweries have long used premium sake-rice called Yamada Nishiki, as well as high quality local sake-rice Gohyakumangoku.

Traditionally, sake brewing is overseen by a chief brewer called toji. The breweries in Kanazawa recruit tojifrom the Noto Peninsula but from all over country as well, so that they can compete and learn from each other. Also, the rich culinary traditions in Kanazawa have long supported the sake brewing industry.

Sake has been considered a sacred drink and was believed to exorcise evil spirits. That’s why you often see big casks of sake dedicated to Shinto shrines.

[Sake breweries in Kanazawa]

・Fukumitsuya http://www.fukumitsuya.co.jp/english/index.html (English)

・Yachiya http://www.yachiya-sake.co.jp (Japanese)

・Nakamuraya Shuzo http://www.nakamura-shuzou.co.jp (Japanese)

Le Saké Kanazawa : brassé au cœur de l’hiver, c’est le mélange d’une eau pure et d’alcool de riz de la plus haute qualité.

Les tempêtes de neige au milieu de l’hiver représentent la saison la plus intense de l’année pour les distilleries de Kanazawa. Cette saison, est la période de pointe pour le brassage du saké pour toutes les distilleries de Kanazawa. La préfecture d’Ishikawa, avec ses hivers rigoureux et ses importantes tempêtes de neige est parfaitement adaptée au brassage du saké et est considérée comme l’une des principales régions de saké au Japon. On trouve d’ailleurs de nombreuses distilleries de saké dans toute la région de Kanazawa, qui porte fièrement le flambeau leur tradition séculaire tout en étant à la recherche constante de goûts nouveaux et innovants.

La qualité de l’eau et de l’alcool de riz, les ingrédients principaux du saké, sont déterminants pour sa qualité. A proximité, la chaîne de montagnes Hakusan assure à Kanazawa un approvisionnement abondant en eau fraîche et pure, riche en minéraux et pauvre en fer, ce qui la rend idéale pour la culture de la levure. Les brasseries locales de saké utilisent depuis longtemps un alcool de riz premium appelé Yamada Nishiki, ainsi que celui nommé Gohyakumangoku ; ce dernier est produit localement.

Traditionnellement, le brassage du saké est supervisé par un chef brasseur appelé « toji ». Les brasseries de Kanazawa recrutent des « toji » originaires de la péninsule de Noto, mais aussi de tout le pays, afin qu’ils puissent à la fois rivaliser et apprendre les uns des autres. En outre, riche d’une grande tradition culinaire, l’ensemble de la région de Kanazawa soutient depuis longtemps l’industrie du saké.

Le saké a été considéré comme une boisson divine et on croyait qu’il exorcisait les mauvais esprits. C’est pourquoi vous voyez souvent de gros tonneaux de saké à l’entrée des temples shintoïstes.

[Les brasseries de saké à Kanazawa]

・Fukumitsuya http://www.fukumitsuya.co.jp/english (English)

・Yachiya http://www.yachiya-sake.co.jp (Japanese)

・Nakamura shuzo http://www.nakamura-shuzou.co.jp (Japanese)

Kanazawa Sake: prodotto nel cuore dell’inverno usando una miscela riso pregiatoe acqua pura .

La parte piu’ fredda dell’inverno con le sue nevicate ballanti e ‘ il period piu’ indaffarante per I birrai di sake a Kanazawa. In questo period, ogni sakagura (cantina di Sake) a Kanazawa entrano nel suo picco della stagione produttiva di sake. La prefettura di Ishikawa, con il suo inverno freddo e pesanti nevicate, e’ perfettamente adatta alla produzione di sake, e si dice che sia una delle principali regioni per la produzione di sake in Giappone. Ci sono molte cantine di sake fondate a Kanazawa, orgogliosi della loro antica tradizione, ma sempre alla ricerca di gusti nuovi e innovativi.

Acqua e riso per sake sono le principali ingredienti del sake e chiave nel determinare  la sua qualita’. I dintorni del Monte Hakusan garantisce che Kanazawa possiede un abbondante carico di fresca, pura acqua che e’ ricca di minerali e povera di ferro, rendendolo ideale per la coltivazione del lievito. Le cantine locali di sake hanno un riso longevo pregiato chiamato Yamada-Nishiki, oltre ad un’altro riso per sake locale di alta qualita’ chiamato Gohyakumangoku.

Tradizionalmente, la produzione del sake e’ supervisionato da un capo birraio chiamato toji. Le cantine a Kanazawa reclutano toni dalla penisola Noto ma anche da tutto il paese, per poi essere capaci di competere e di imparare l’uno e l’altro.

Inoltre, la ricca tradi89!3 culinaria di Kanazawa ha supportato a lungo l’industria della produzione di sake.

Sake e’ sempre stato considerato una bevanda sacra ed era creduto che scacciasse gli spiriti maligno. Ecco perché si vedono spesso si vedono offerte di barili di legno di sake per i templi Shintoisti.

[Cantine di Sake a Kanazawa]

・Fukumitsuya http://www.fukumitsuya.co.jp/english (English)

・Yachiya http://www.yachiya-sake.co.jp (Japanese)

・Nakamura shuzo http://www.nakamura-shuzou.co.jp (Japanese)