KEIHOKU Style

The abundant water from the mountain nourishes the rice and vegetable fields.

The Satoyama mountains bear plentiful fruits.  

The change in color of the sky and the scent of the wind signals the transience of seasons. 

This is the way of life for thousands of years. 

 

From Kyoto Station, travelling by local bus for an hour and a half, 

brings you through one tunnel after the next, 

while you gradually find yourself in a completely different place from the city.

 

Look through the window and you will see a breathtaking glimpse

of the mountains. 

Japanese cedars and cypresses stand upright resembling 

somewhat images of hardworking and serious Japanese people.

 

Dawn in the winter, mountains are covered by mist.

The white mist blends with dark and light greens, 

creating a deep emerald color like the deep sea.

When you reach the cool and clear air,

you know you arrived in Keihoku. 

 
 
 

Forest workers preserve the beautiful coniferous mountains in Keihoku. 

From the olden times of the Heian era, Keihoku has supplied rich wood materials to the old capital.

 

For instance, an ax for cutting trees is called "Yoki", 

which represents the four spirits (or Yoki, in Japanese), earth, water, fire and wind. 

Before workers begin to work in the new mountain, 

they lean the Yoki ax onto a tree and greet the mountain deity with an offering of sake. 

On one side of the Yoki is inscribed three (mi) lines and four (yo) lines on the other side, 

representing holy sake (miki) and Yoki respectively, or the wish that no dangers would fall upon the body.

As such, the symbols of Yoki have multiple special meanings and it is spiritually important tool 

to connect the world or humans to the world of the mountains.

Local mountains and people have coexisted.

Humans have received many blessings from the mountain

and believed in the great spirits of the mountain.

 

Further back from the line of coniferous trees are deciduous trees with leaves of diverse colors. 

Water springs here and there covered with wet mosses; the source of all life.

 

From the end of April to the beginning of May, the rice paddies are filled with water. 

Though this is repeated every year, we cannot help but to be excited for this fresh water that brings the new season. 

 

Living organisms come back to life in the summer, 

which is also the time that Ayu fishing season starts. 

 

Fresh ground water used to brew the finest quality of sake,the home grown soba buckwheat from the field in front of the restaurant:

the quality of soba is determined completely by those fresh water, ingredients and skill of the chef.

 

In the winter season with its fierce coldness, 

the chief brewer stirs the barrel every morning to check the fermentation level, 

adjusts the temperature as well as evaporates the carbon dioxide gas generated through 

the fermentation process. The water in Keihoku has a lot of underground water that is rich in minerals. 

By using this water to brew sake, it has a distinctively mild and fruity taste.

 
 

A distinct set of four seasons and diverse nature cultivates 

a rich culture and unique people in Keihoku. 

 
 

The winter morning is covered by a serene calmness.

The places like here in Keihoku are called ‘SATOYAMA’ in Japanese, 

where people live sustainably in harmony with nature.

fin.

 
Photography by Hironori Fukumoto