Food replica at castle town Gujo-Hachiman


2018.12.05

NAVITIME TRAVEL EDITOR

Gujo Hachiman sits on a hill overlooking the valley and the town and is in a valley where three major fast-running rivers meet: the Yoshida, Nagara and Kodara. Not just the nature but this town is a home to a traditional Japanese craftsmanship as well as to a fine feudal castle. The defining feature of Gujo Hachiman’s narrow lanes—the stone waterways and miniature canals—were built to safeguard and water the workshops that lined these cobbled streets. Take a look at some of the amazing works that began from this town in this article.

  • Food replica (Shokuhin sanpuru) of ice cream

    Food replica (Shokuhin sanpuru) of ice cream

    The eerily accurate shokuhin sanpuru a.k.a food replica in English, might seem an odd place to start, but it’s one of the products most associated with the town, and undeniably a handicraft, if not an artform. The samples, made from paraffin wax or, nowadays, mostly from polyvinyl chloride, are ubiquitous in displays outside kissaten(Japanese cafe) and restaurants in Japan, and many of those items come from Gujo Hachiman. The town has gained a reputation for its food samples, and many that visit the town pick up small pieces to bring home with them.

    Gift shop selling many different variations of shokuhin sanpuru (food replica)

    Gift shop selling many different variations of shokuhin sanpuru (food replica)

    Gujo entrepreneurs have been in the shokuhin sanpuru(food replica) business since the 1930s when everything was painstakingly made from paraffin wax. Out of the many, Sample Kobo(Food Replica Workshop) is far most famous facility where you can see the workshop to make food replicas and also experience making one by yourself. The main location is based in a renovated townhouse and has a gift shop, and also serve as a museum too.

    The best footwear to clomp along Gujo Hachiman’s cobbled lanes are geta, the traditional sandal with two raised wooden teeth on their soles. Gujo Mokuri produces handmade geta and hanao, the strap that anchors the sandal to the feet. The preservation of the Gujo Hachiman makes it possible for entrepreneurs to earn a living in this town practicing traditional handicrafts.

    Making of geta (sandals)

    Making of geta (sandals)

    These handmade geta (sandals) are sold at upscale department stores like Takashimaya, but there’s nothing like taking a visit to the original store here in this town. The geta are all hand made in the shop, using the same methods that have been passed down for centuries. The hinoki (Japanese cypress) which are used to create these geta (sandals) are gathered from the local nearby forest. And the hanao (cloth thong that passes between the big toe and second toe) are made using Gujo tsumugi, a hand woven silk cloth, made with hand spun threads that have been hand dyed with plant dyes.

    Aside from the food replica, Gujo Hachiman's silkscreen prints are equally famous. The birthplace of Japanese silkscreen printing is said to be here at Gujo Hachiman and the Takara Gallery Workroom gives you the chance to make hand-made towels using silkscreen printing technology.
    Takara Gallery started as an online shop, and opened its brick-and-mortor shop in 2012.

    The shop hosts "tenugui sessions" where visitors can print their own tenugui (traditional Japanese towels), which are an essential item of the Gujo Odori (Summer dancing festival).
    The staff at the shop will explain to the visitors the basic steps of screen printing from mixing ink to actually printing it on to such item like tenugui (traditional Japanese towels)

    Original tenugui (traditional Japanese towel) sold at Takara Gallery Workroom

    Original tenugui (traditional Japanese towel) sold at Takara Gallery Workroom

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