Tag Archives: japanese folk

Japanese Folk & Shakuhachi

I know I said the next post would be about Omuraya, but I thought you might like to see this music video from Sunday night at Zac Baran. Local folk musician Udonya Mentei was accompanied by Yoshida Koichi on the shakuhachi to very powerful effect. A great night and so many good songs, I felt pained I only had enough memory on my camera for the one. I don’t know what this song is called, but the lyrics are by Miyazawa Kenji. I believe he wrote them about 6 months before he died.

Oh and a big hello and thanks to Xavier and Patrick who came on Sunday night! It’s nice to know the blog is appreciated!

Next post: Izakaya Omuraya (honest!).

Shakuhachi & Japanese Folk @ Zac Baran


Folk Musician “Udonya Mentei” will be playing with Shakuhachi player Yoshida Koichi.

January 25th 2009 (Sunday)
Doors Open: 18:00
Start: 20:00

No charge but there will be a collection. Zac Baran is on the north side of Marutamachi a short walk east of Higashioji Dori. Here is a most convenient map.

Next post: Tasty veggies and the blues at izakaya Omuraya.


img_9261This noodle shop by MotoTanaka station does some very nice homemade udon noodles. The owner (pictured a short ways below), is known to all his friends as Yama-chan, or by his customers simply as “Master”. I can’t remember what his real name is. He’s a very nice chap. I first met him in music bar Hawkwind one night, and when he told me he owned the nearby noodle shop I said “Oh! That place! I’ve eaten there.”
“How were the noodles?” he asked me. “Well,” I said, “The thing is, I really like nishin soba… And I’m quite strict about it because I like it so much. So, to be honest, the nishin soba at your place was good, but it wasn’t the best I’ve ever had.” I can be horribly honest sometimes. Yamachan however, remained unfazed.
“Next time you come to my shop,” he said, “You have to try the udon. Not the soba. My shop’s specialty is udon, afterall.”

img_9254Fair enough, I thought. So I went back to Mentei one night and ordered nishin with udon noodles to see what they were like. Below right you can see the dish that was set before me.

img_9257I proceeded to slurp noodles, soup and herring into myself as Yama-chan walked gingerly over. After a while I looked up with a big smile on my face. “Well,” says Yama-chan, “How are they?”

He wasn’t kidding about the udon. They were really great. And when I told him so, he was really happy – mostly with relief I expect.

As well as owning a fine noodle establishment Yama-chan also happens to be a pretty well known local folk singer, his stage name being: Udonya Mentei. I tell you, you meet some pretty interesting characters in Hawkwind. I’ll post more about him and his music at a later date.


To find Mentei, go north on Higashioji Dori, past Hyakumanben, past Mikage Dori, until you get to the railway intersection at MotoTanaka. Mentei is on your right, below the cafe and live music venue Zanpano. Here is a map.

Open 11:30 – 23:00 or earlier if they sell out. Closed on Sundays.

Next post: Zac Baran and some very nice shakuhachi playing.

In Search of… Vinyl

I have previously written about the record shop Prototype, managed by my good friend Yoshida-kun but I’ve been thinking it’s time I added a few more Kyoto record shops to the list. I asked friend and collector Nana H. (that’s her on the left spinning discs at Joao) to give me some pointers and she recommended the following stores.


A pure, minimalist store without much decoration, this place is very neat and tidy compared to some of the other record stores in town. Genres include: Blues, Gospel, Alternative, New Wave, Progressive Rock, Reggae, Ska, World music and Jazz. Says Nana: “Most of the stuff here isn’t new, maybe up to the 80’s, or if Hip-Hop then the 90’s. This is where you come if you want to know where the new stuff comes from.” Bootsy’s is on the 3rd floor of the Takase building on the south side of Sanjo, west of the bridge, about two doors down from the Lawson’s convenience store. Here is a map.
Open 12:00 – 20:00 seven days a week. Tel: 075-231-5078

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ほんやら洞 (Honyarado) is a famous café on Imadegawa, that has been supplying coffee and cheap meals to nearby Doshisha University students for over thirty years. The owner, Kai Fusayoshi, is a very productive professional photographer and his prints and posters decorate the walls of the shop. Check out some of the books of his work littering the place. In black and white and with gentle humor he has documented the day-to-day life of ordinary people in Kyoto. His pictures have also documented the day-to-day life of ordinary Kyoto cats.

During the radical years of the peace movement, Honyarado became well-known as the “Folk Mecca” of Kyoto because of the musicians who gathered there and it is still occasionally a live music venue today. See the website for scheduled events and for the menu. Lunch and evening meals change daily and will set you back ¥600 and ¥700 respectively.

Honyarado is a delightfully, scruffy, cheerful place, piled up with books, flyers, postcards and all kinds of old, odd and interesting things that make wise people happy. To find it, go north on Teramachi, turn left onto Imadegawa, keep going and look out for it on your right. Here is a map. Open every day 11:00 am ~ 10:00 pm. Tel: 075-222-1574.