Traveling to Japan is no simple task. You have to cross all the way over the ocean, no matter where you’re visiting from. But that’s precisely why you should enjoy unique things you can’t enjoy anywhere else in the world, right? For this article we’d like to introduce one such unique activity.
The setting is an old townhouse that was formerly the personal residence of a Kyoto merchant. Kyoto is well-known as one of the best places to savor the history and culture of Japan, a place where you can walk around and see numerous traditional townhouses, Shinto shrines, and Buddhist temples. Among these townhouses is “Cooking Sun”, a special studio classroom where you can learn how to cook traditional Japanese food. What’s even better is that they offer courses in English, French, and German.
Join a morning bento class!
The menu for the day that we attended was sushi rolls, tempura, teriyaki chicken, spinach goma-ae, and miso soup. Serving as our teacher was the experienced Ms. Tomoko, who had studied abroad at an American university.
The lesson began with a demonstration by Ms. Tomoko. In the above photographs you can see her preparing the vinegared rice for the sushi rolls. While the rice is still hot she mixes it up as if she were cutting it so that the rice does not get soggy.
After Ms. Tomoko’s explanation it was now our turn. Following Ms. Tomoko’s example, we went through the process step by step. It takes a while but even people who aren’t good at cooking can learn how to do it. By the way, the uniform that you see the participants wearing in this photograph is a traditional Japanese work uniform called a samue, which you can borrow for free at the class.
Do you see the tool in the above photograph? This is a makisu, a special kind of bamboo tool used in preparing sushi. Getting to use interesting tools like this is one of the fun parts of participating in a cooking classroom.
According to the American participants in our class, in America there are people who are opposed to eating the nori seaweed used to wrap sushi and so the most common kind of sushi in America is the California Roll, which is prepared in a way that hides the seaweed. However, the participants in our class who actually tried rolling sushi said that “The way you put the rice on the outside of a California roll seems difficult” which lead to a lively discussion of the differences between sushi rolling techniques. It’s the little moments like this that turn a regular tourist trip into an opportunity to have an exciting chat with fellow tourists. One of the many charms of Cooking Sun is the chances like to spend some time together with Japanese local people who are normally.
Here you can see the finished bento boxes all lined up. They look delicious! When the cooking is finished, everyone goes up to the second floor room to eat.
Cooking Sun’s Concept
We inquired with Cooking Sun’s representative Mr. Yamamoto about how the cooking classroom got started, and he told us that “When I saw all the overseas tourists in Tokyo, I thought it would be good for them to have a fun activity to enjoy since they’ve come all the way to Japan. Japan is well-known for delicious food, so wouldn’t it be great if there was a cooking classroom where you could learn to cook real Japanese food and interact with locals?” And thus the cooking classroom was born.
The menu that participants learn to make in the classroom is all selected by Yamamoto himself. The morning menu features “Well-known Japanese food that even foreigners might know about” and in contrast the afternoon menu features “Common Japanese home cooking that foreigners might have never heard of.” They even offer vegetarian menu options for those interested.
Additionally, they also sell spices, frying pans, bonito flakes and Cooking Sun original masu trout.
Regarding class reservations
There are two classes: the Morning Bento Class （9:30～13:00）and the Afternoon Kappo Class (14:00～17:30). The fee for one person ranges from 7,200~7,800 yen. (At the time this article was written) You can join a class either by yourself or in a group of up to 25 people; for groups of 2 or more they accept reservations.
Reservations can be made either online or by phone. Generally they are open every day but please check on the homepage(www.cooking-sun.com) in advance to see reservation status. You can see how to access Cooking Sun in the image gallery, where we show you how to get there from Shijo Station.
If you want to try making real Japanese food but don’t have anywhere you can do that, we strongly recommend you join one of these cooking classrooms at Cooking Sun if you come to visit Kyoto!