103rd Kyoto Cuisine Exhibition

December 2008

Traditionally attired trainee geisha, Naokazu (left) and Ichiteru, from the Kamishichiken geisha district of Kyoto, take in the exhibition

  • The Kyoto Cuisine Exhibition is held annually on the 13th and 14th December. 2008 marked the 103rd such exhibition, and the 4th time that the Umami Information Center has participated. Our involvement in the event was particularly appropriate since it was held in Kyoto, which is not only the birthplace of traditional Japanese cuisine, but also of Dr. Kikunae Ikeda, the man who discovered the science behind the umami taste one hundred years ago.


    The roots of the Kyo-Ryori Association, the organizers of the event, can be traced back as far as around 260 years ago. The Kyoto Cuisine, or kyo-ryori, Exhibition, is held each year as a platform for long established restaurants to exhibit their technical skill and culinary flair in the preparation of Kyoto cuisine, the craftsmanship that is the legacy of their long histories.

    This year the exhibition fell on a weekend, meaning that more people than usual were able to enjoy the spectacle. A total of 8000 visitors was recorded. The exhibition was held at the Miyako Messe, a municipal exhibition facility, and 255 association members, including traditional ryotei restaurants, hosted booths. As well as watching chefs prepare traditional cuisine rich in local seafood and vegetables, such as New Year osechi cuisine, visitors were able to take part in kyo-ryori cooking workshops, watch ikama ceremonial knife performances, get up close whilst professional chefs filleted massive tuna, and fill their shopping bags with seasonal Kyoto vegetables. They could also watch traditional Kyoto dance performed by maiko(trainee geisha), take part in urasenke-style tea ceremonies, and taste the freshly filleted tuna, along with sushi and other foods in the tasting area. Everyone who made the trip to the exhibition went home satisfied, having had their eyes and stomachs filled to bursting!

    The Umami Information Center booth concentrated on promoting 2008 as the centenary of Dr. Ikeda's discovery of umami. The display included information on umami-rich foods, and our "umami world map", as well as panels detailing our international activities, such as the recent Umami Summit in San Francisco and Umami Summit in New York.

    We also played video footage of Takashi Tamura, Head Chef at Tsukiji Tamura, a long standing traditional Japanese restaurant located near the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, giving a demonstration on how to prepare dashi soup stock. This was followed by footage of a keynote speech, "The Global Popularity of Japanese Food", given by Yoshihiro Murata, Director of the Japanese Culinary Academy, at the Umami Summit in Kyoto held the previous week, on 6th December. Many visitors stopped to take in the knowledge and practical advice of these two distinguished experts.


    This year we were also able to offer samples of water-steeped kombu (kelp) dashi to 1000 of the visitors to our booth, and were delighted to welcome the Mayor of Kyoto City, Daisaku Kadokawa, who came to take a look around. Together with many enthusiastic amateurs, the exhibition was also well attended by restaurant chef patrons, students of Japanese cuisine, and both professional and aspiring chefs, who seemed to take a particular interest in the information we were displaying. It was a particularly fititing opportunity to spread the word about umami in the birthplace of Dr. Ikeda, the founding father of the science of umami.

  • Traditionally attired trainee geisha, Naokazu (left) and Ichiteru, from the Kamishichiken geisha district of Kyoto, take in the exhibition

    The gorgeous selection of Kyoto cuisine on display

    Yoshihiro Murata, Director of the Japanese Culinary Academy, visits our booth

    Daisaku Kadokawa, Mayor of Kyoto City, samples cold kombu dashi together with Eiichi Takahashi, President of the Kyo-Ryori Association

  • The gorgeous selection of Kyoto cuisine on display

    Yoshihiro Murata, Director of the Japanese Culinary Academy, visits our booth

    Daisaku Kadokawa, Mayor of Kyoto City, samples cold kombu dashi together with Eiichi Takahashi, President of the Kyo-Ryori Association