The delicate traditional confectionery of Kyoto, called kyogashi, is the protagonist of the exhibition Zen nature in the palm of your hand, a tour of the artisan confectionery of the imperial capital, with centuries of history.
Beyond the gastronomic component, it is about an authentic spiritual journey through the Japanese tea ceremony and the world of Zen Buddhism, elements that inspire these delicious little works of art that represent one of the most important traditions in Kyoto.
The sixth edition of this succulent show includes 50 creations that have participated in a contest divided into two categories: elaboration and design.
These fifty pieces reflect the beauty and balance of nature, a fundamental theme of Japanese art, with names as evocative as Calm Heart, Drops, The Sound of Bamboo, The Garden of the Moon O Summer’s afternoon.
The sample can be seen until November 15 in four emblematic places in Kyoto but also offers the possibility of performing a virtual visit to the section of the exhibition installed in the center of cultural studies of Japan Kodokan.
KYOGASHI: SWEET WORKS OF ART
The four places in Kyoto that host this ephemeral exhibition are: the prestigious Kodokan Center for Japanese Studies; the spectacular Villa Mitsui Shimogamo, now converted into a museum; the Kyoto Imperial Gardens and the Isetan Mall.
At Kodokan and Villa Mitsui Shimogamo, visitors can enjoy the tradition of the kyogashi testing a selection of traditional sweets with matcha tea, which collect part of the magic, colors and flavors reflected in the sample.
What is this ancestral pastry based on? The kyogashi recreates in its colors, ingredients and shapes, the different seasons, as well as the Japanese literary and artistic universe with abstract and sophisticated shapes.
The pieces, which do not weigh more than 50 grams, are concentrated in their reduced dimensions a great level of detail that bakers achieve with few tools and a lot of skill and trade.
As for the ingredients, this pastry plays with balances of flavors and seasonal products, being a fundamental part of the tea ceremony or chanoyu.
Kyoto sweets have been, since imperial times, an artistic communication tool, precisely because of its intricate details and ornaments, its technical difficulty and its minimalist beauty, uniting art and gastronomy in a natural and surprising way.
Traditional literature – especially poetry waka and its themes related to customs and Japanese nature– has played a fundamental role in creating themes and visuals for these small works of art.
Thus, in these pieces we find an exquisite mix of Zen Buddhism, confectionery and, of course, the well-known tea ceremony.
Zen nature in the palm of your hand offers a new look at the influence of Zen on the sensibility and aesthetics of the Japanese, and how this philosophy has shaped aspects of the country’s culture, taking as examples the chanoyu and the kyogashi.
Japanese aesthetics are also reflected in shapes, colors and taste, with clean and dense flavors, yet extremely delicate, in perfect balance with the traditional tea that is enjoyed in the tea ceremony.
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