Hard to Top

When I ate at Imobou Hiranoya, I was thoroughly impressed that the restaurant was 300 years old. While I still think that’s pretty cool, I recently had lunch at a place that makes Imobou seem young.

On Saturday I ate at Honke Owariya, a noodle shop in Kyoto that was founded in 1465.

Kyoto Honke Owariya

I had “hōrai soba,” pictured on the website’s menu between “Specialties” and “Rice Bowls.” Age isn’t everything, but then again, when a business is around for that long they’re clearly doing something right, and the food was indeed very good.


My reason for being in Kyoto in the first place, meanwhile, was to see a special exhibition at the Kyoto National Museum.

Kyoto National Museum Kano Eitoku Exhibit

They were showing works by Kanō Eitoku (1543-1590), a distinguished member of the Kanō school of painters. Eitoku created the “taiga” style of screen painting (大画 – literally “large picture”), seen in the ad above, which is pretty close to the size of the original. In taiga, the size of the painting itself isn’t necessarily larger than in previous styles, rather the name comes from having one or two large figures that dominate the picture. My favorite works were his Chinese style monochromes, though.


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2 Responses to “Hard to Top”

  1. Barthe Says:

    What I keep wondering about is how do the Japanese schools compare to the US schools. I don’t think we’re doing very well with all our money being siphoned off by war and the students being given endless tests which the teachers must help them pass. The joy and exploration seems to have evaporated from the classrooms here. What about in Japan?

  2. kevinjames Says:

    In Japan, the schools have been having problems since the ’90s. Students have to score well on the national entrance exams to get into good high schools and they need to do the same for college. In the past, if you got into a top university, you were set, but now the system of lifetime employment is dead or dying and there are no guarantees. Naturally, this removes a lot of motivation, but the entrance exam system itself hasn’t changed.

    In fact, pretty much every kid whose family can afford it attends cram school in the evenings. That’s on top of staying after school until 5 or 6 doing club activities (baseball, brass band, etc.), and having club practice on the weekend, as well.

    Meanwhile, education reforms have been attempted to improve creative thinking ability and to create “cram-free” education, but test scores became even worse after the changes, so they’ve been declared a failure. Now many people in the Ministry of Education want to increase school hours, instead.

    So schools have plenty of issues on this side of the Pacific, too.

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