If you have been following my recent newsletters and checking the Hashi Cooking website, you will know that next year I am running a series of Japanese food experiences in Kyoto – with daily courses, taking place in a traditional machiya house.
For several centuries, downtown Kyoto was brimming with machiya, and the style built in this city defined the national archetypal machiya. These long wooden homes were popular with Kyoto merchants and craftspeople until the 1940s, and as the skyline of Kyoto survived WW2, many original machiya still stand today.
Machiya are deceptive: comprising with earthen walls and baked tile roofs on a narrow plot of land, they appear small from the front yet stretching deeply backwards into the city block, and containing one or more small and beautifully manicured courtyard gardens. Also named tsuboniwa, these gardens are open to the sky, and sitting inside the largest room of the machiya (the zashiki), with the doors wide open, and watching rain fall into the garden is a magical experience.
Each room of the machiya is divided by sliding shoji or fusuma doors, as in most traditional Japanese buildings, and this provides a great degree of versatility – with the space increasing according to the number of guests! The interiors of machiya remain authentic and organic – with tatami mat floors, sparse decoration and exposed wooden beams creating a fresh yet cosy atmosphere. Above the kitchen, meanwhile, there is always a hibukuro – designed to act as both a chimney and a skylight.
I am extremely excited to teach authentic Japanese cookery in such a wonderful location in Kyoto! If you are planning to, or interested in, taking a trip to Japan, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are working with The Art of Travel to create bespoke Japan-wide experiences according to what our guests would like to see across the country, including a food experience in Kyoto with myself.