Category : Places I like in Kyoto

In Kyoto, a Japanese tea shop in a covered marked

This is what a Japanese tea shop looks like. Or rather, a tea shop in a covered market, like here at Nishiki Ichiba in Kyoto. In the foreground are chests full of Hojicha and, on the right, the apparatus with a chimney is actually a Bancha roaster. It is used to produce Hojicha. It gives off a wonderful woody, caramelised aroma which spreads to the nearby stalls.


Posted in Country : Japan, Places I like in Kyoto by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , , , , ,

The Shoren-In temple in Kyoto: a haven of peace

With the terrible images coming out of Japan at the moment, and with so many people in distress, I wanted to show you another side to this country, and pay homage to its beauty.

In the east of Kyoto, next door to the Chion-In temple, the Shoren-In temple hides in the shade of maple, eucalyptus and willow trees. Cross the stone garden, remove your shoes and step onto the wooden walkway. Admire the soft light filtered by the shojis, stop to look at the pond and then the garden, with its different coloured mosses. A little further on, a tea ceremony is taking place. The host takes the bowl of tea in both hands and raises it slowly up to his forehead, as a sign of respect.


Posted in Country : Japan, Places I like in Kyoto by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , , , ,

Peaceful Kyoto scene in homage to the tsunami victims

This image of a stream gently winding its way between the ancient wooden houses of Kyoto’s old town haunts me as I think of all the victims of the terrible earthquake.

The contrast – particularly strong in Japan – between the tranquillity of nature and an earth capable of rising up and swallowing so many lives, reminds us of the fragility of our existence.

Of course, I am thinking of all my friends over there, of the people who work for Le Palais des Thés in Tokyo, of our suppliers, and particularly of those in the prefecture of Iwate, north of Sendai, which has been so badly affected.


Posted in Country : Japan, Places I like in Kyoto by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , , , , ,

Hattori Koji-San, a master potter in central Kyoto

In my previous post I spoke of the master potter Hattori Koji-San. I showed you his agile hands at work. Here he is in his studio in the centre of Kyoto. For the photo, he decided to sit where he would normally place his wheel. This year, Le Palais des Thés has asked Hattori Koji-San to make its raku bowls. The various colours are achieved by the use of different mineral pigments. Part of the craftsman’s skill is to achieve the desired crackled finish to the glaze, along with the black, red or white tones that can symbolise stars or seasons, snow or night.


Posted in Country : Japan, Places I like in Kyoto by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , , ,

Raku : a technique used to make tea bowls

Each tea accessory used during the Cha no Yu (the Japanese tea ceremony) is made using the methods of an ancient craft. Raku is a classic technique often used to make the “chawan”, the bowl used in the tea ceremony. This process involves firing at a very low temperature.

Here, in the Kyoto studio of Hattori Koji-San, I watched the master potter deftly work the clay and gradually shape the contours of a tea bowl.


Posted in Country : Japan, Places I like in Kyoto by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , , , , ,

The author

François-Xavier Delmas is a passionate globetrotter. He’s been touring the world’s tea plantations for more than 20 years in search of the finest teas. As the founder of Le Palais des Thés, he believes that travelling is all about discovering world cultures. From Darjeeling to Shizuoka, from Taiwan to the Golden Triangle, he invites you to follow his trips as well as share his experiences and emotions.

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