• Shona McCarthy

The Yatsuhashi-An: More Than Yummy Triangles

(Image taken from Google Maps. 14/7/20)

One of my greatest regrets about my last visit to Japan was that I visited the Yatsuhashi-An but did not schedule enough time for me to meticulously photograph it, and myself in it. It's a cultural institution in Kyoto where you can buy and eat traditional Japanese confectionery. But you might be surprised to know that they also hold many craft and cultural classes in the same building.

Some of those classes involve making Yatsuhashi, which is like a triangular, dumpling of deliciousness. They are gooey and chewy and not overly sweet, and there are many different types of fillings. I suggest you go google so you can see what I'm talking about. I saw a group of girls taking such classes while I was there. There were even tiny little traditional stoves with flames placed on the table! This was so that they girls could perfectly melt some of the candy materials!

But, being that my last trip to Japan was an odyssey of textiles and literature, I was there for very different purposes. I went there to take a class on embroidery and a class on embroidery and silk cocoon dolls.

But I forgot to say why I am so regretful about not photographing the place. The reason is that ever inch of the building that I saw was absolutely beautiful. Even the staff there have gorgeous uniforms. On the same floor where I attended classes in their sweet little dedicated area, there was also a plethora of Japanese confectionery boxes on display, all bright and beautiful.

When I arrived at the building, I showed the lady at the front desk my booking and then she used an earpiece to tell another member of staff to get ready for me. The entryway was full of black shiny tiles. There were decorations and statues in Japanese style. The hallway had raised tiles above faux cobblestones so that it felt oddly as though you were walking through a garden even though you were still inside. There was a little cafe on the same floor. But if I remember correctly, I had to ascend some stairs.

(Photos I took at the Yatsuhashi-An, 2019.)

Taking the classes I took alone isn't an option. I made the booking hoping that they would be lenient and let me take the class alone even though their booking system only allows two or more people to book at a time. But they didn't relent. So I called up a friend I have in the Kansai region and had them accompany me.

The staff were patient with me as we waited for my friend to arrive. Once he did, they explained the activities in Japanese, and he was able to relay the information to me in English. So that worked out nicely. I had booked the embroidery class purely because I wanted to learn specifically Japanese embroidery techniques. One of the good things I'll say about taking little classes in Japan is that they will always give you information sheets you can take home. They're usually in Japanese, so you will need to use the camera function in Google Translate to read them. But the point is that you do have opportunities for further learning if you want to Google the concepts on these sheets.

The Cocoon Doll class was interesting in that it used real cocoons that had been made by silk worms and then abandoned to make the head and body of the doll. The end result looked remarkably professional even though the materials themselves seemed fairly ordinary.

If I could return there one day, I would go for one of the other classes they hold. I would also want to eat in their cafe and buy some of their souvenirs.

Come and see their website here:

Here is an embed of Google Streetview so you can find it!

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#Japanesemalls #travellinginjapan #Ilovejapan #japantourism #japan #kyoto #yatsuhashi #yatsuhashian #japantourismsafety #osaka #japanese

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