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Lecture Series on Kyoto-style Japanese sweets : the last class for me

Today let me introduce to you the lecture series on Kyoto-style Japanese sweets that I've attended since its start. The series lasts for half a year every program. Its venue is KOU-DOU KAN, formerly an old private school that a famous Confucianism scholar KIEN MINAGAWA founded in 1806. The lectures are given by Japanese confectioners and artisans at the traditional court confectionery OI-MATSU with its master Mr Toru Ota heading the list. Mr Ota is also one of the tea ceremony masters representing the contemporary Kyoto, and moreover the father of SAI-O DAI heroine in AOI MATSURI festival of Kyoto this year. From the 5th series on, joined the lecturers Ms Sayoko Sugiyama from NIKKA, a confectioners unit for original Japanese sweets, enriching the lectures' stimulations. I have been enchanted with both challenge and fun of constructing sweets' concepts first, and then translating them into realistic designs. Among others, Mr Ota's pleasant lectures rooted in his unique and creative sense of beauty are very fascinating.

The last Thursday was however the last class in the 6th series, and the last of my serial attendance, too, because I am going to live in Europe from the next month. In the class, every student is supposed to create her/his package design for a half bar of YOKAN, or sweetened and jellied bean paste sweet, and to make presentation of the package. It formed a contest, even with prizes to be given after the review by the lecturers.

A little embarrassed at its seemingly too direct link to the current season of TANABATA, or Double-Seventh Day legend, I ended up with choosing AMA-NO-GAWA or the Milky Way for the theme, and implemented my designed package with Japanese paper and MIZU-HIKI paper strings. Please see the bottom for its conceptual caption. I was so totally absorbed in my first experience of MIZU-HIKI work I almost forgot time. It IS such fun ! And, to my delight, Ms Sugiyama selected mine for the highest award, and by Mr Ota I was handed the prize of the SENSU fan for celebrating his daughter's SAI-O DAI nomination. How grateful ! That will be my lifetime treasure.

<AMA-NO-GAWA, or Milky Way : design caption>

In July 7 evening of the TANABATA night, just when magpies are about to complete the once-a-year bridge, the bluish surface of the Silver River in the heaven reflected passions of the gold Vega, the weaver girl, and the silver Altair, the cowherd -- the three colors crystallised into a knot of three strings of MIZU-HIKI, which slightly intertiwne on the back side, and are in their turn tied with strings in allegory to eternal love. The strings include the legendary red thread that is said to unite even very remote lovers before seeing each other, and they are themselves knotted tight in several places so the bond shall not lose off.


さて、開講以来通い続けている「京菓子専門講座」があります。1シリーズ半年間。場所は儒者・皆川淇園が1806年に創設した学問所「弘道館」。講師は有職菓子御調進所老松の主人にして現代京都を代表する茶人の一人、今年の葵祭のヒロイン斎王代のお父上である太田(宗)達氏を筆頭に、老松の職人さん方。Vシリーズ目からは、講師陣に創作和菓子ユニット「日菓」の杉山早陽子氏も加わり、ますます充実した講座となっています。菓子のコンセプトを構築した上で具体的なデザインにおとしていく作業の難しさと面白さ、とりわけ太田先生独自の美意識にもとづいた楽しいお話に魅了されています。 この前の木曜はシリーズVIの最終日で、来月から渡欧をひかえている私にとっては、最後の回(>_<)。この日は、半棹サイズの羊羹の包装を自由に考え、それをプレゼンテーションするという内容で、講評の後、優秀作品が選ばれ、賞品も出ます。


<天の川> 七夕の夜、鵲(カササギ)が一年に一度の橋をまさに掛け終わろうとする瞬間、金の織姫、銀の彦星の想いは、青き天河の水面に映り三本の水引の結いとなった。裏面で交わる水引を留める糸には縁がほつれていかぬよういくつもの固き結び目で赤い糸が混ぜこまれる。

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