Fushimi-Inari, Sake, Sweets, and Kimono! 伏見稲荷、日本酒、和菓子と着物!

Hello everyone, Mark from the International Affairs Division here! It’s been a while since my last post, but this is about a field trip we organised and held on Sunday 15th December. Altogether we were 21, with exchange students studying at Ritsumeikan and Doshisha universities, from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, USA, Germany, and Australia! We all managed to meet up on a chilly morning and left on our bus just past 9am.




Our first call was Kyoto’s famous Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine. Arriving just past 9:30am, it was already busy with many people trying to get the best shots of all the torii gates. Everyone enjoyed trying to do the same, and our guide taught us lots about the meaning and the history of the shrine. Personally, Fushimi Inari is one of my favourite shrines in Kyoto, so it was nice to go and help show the exchange students around!



Afterwards, we took a trip to the Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum. Here we were given a very detailed, but easy-to-understand, explanation on the sake-brewing process and history of sake by a very knowledgeable guide. The tour through the museum includes replicas of the actual traditional tools and containers that the brewers used in the olden times to create the famous sake made in and around Kyoto. Once we had finished the tour and the explanation, we were all (the members over 20, of course!) given a chance to try some of the local sake and umeshu brewed there. As there was a shop there, I myself was very tempted to purchase some! I think the students came away with a good understanding of both what sake is, and the taste of it!




Once we had our fill for lunch, we went on to a place called Oimatsu, which crafts and sells traditional Japanese confectionery, and in particular, Kyoto confectionery, or kyogashi. Here we were given a wonderful demonstration and taught how to make our own kyogashi creations! We were all given the basic ingredients, and shown how to make one, then had the freedom to make a couple more of our own designs. It is said that enjoying this kind of confectionery is an experience for all 5 senses: naturally, the taste is to be savoured; the design of the sweet appeals to the eyes; the touch and the smell as you eat it as well. However, how are the ears and hearing involved? Apparently, hearing is the most important sense of them all! By giving a name to our creations, when we hear it, we can imagine the scene and what the sweet represents as we enjoy eating it. Once we were finished, we had one with some maccha tea, and brought our other ones home with us for later!




Finally, we finished the day at the Nishijin Textile Center, where we were again given another great explanation and shown examples of the exquisite detail that go into Kyoto’s Nishijin silk products. Ending the day with the kimono fashion show at the Center, I think all the students got a great selection of photos of some of the best kimonos that Kyoto has to offer! After the show, we all made our goodbyes and went our separate ways. Everyone really seemed to enjoy themselves despite the chilly weather, and I think we gave everyone a really good opportunity to learn a bit more about things that exchange students don’t usually get a chance to. All in all, a great success, and I had fun too!




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