Organic design

In the urban districts of Tokyo, almost all the buildings are designed to maximize their floor areas because the rent is very expensive. The design depends on the economic principle that space is money.

If you find the lower buildings or open spaces in the urban area, they must be publicly owned or registered as historical buildings by local governments.

Here is one of the most symbolic buildings in Ochanomizu that is recognised as a cultural town like Quartier latin in Paris.

There have been many educational institutions such as universities, colleges and preparatory schools.

This building used to be one of the oldest professional schools for those who learn liberal arts such as arts, crafts, music and literature.

The founders and faculty members consisted of the famous artists, writers, craftsmen and musicians in Meiji period when Japan started adopting the western cultures and civilizations.

The educational policy was to pursue something small but quality and the programs were not based on standardised curriculum regulated by the Japanese school law.

I felt the design of the building stands for its educational policy. It expresses the freedom.

Freedom from authority

Freedom from economic principles.

Freedom from preconcieved ideas.

Freedom from urban tightness

Freedom from conventional boredom

Actually, Meiji period was the beginning of freedom after long-lasted Edo period when people were restricted to their social classification and to birthplaces.

It is true that its shape is very organic but the background of its design is beyond its organic looks.

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Passive design

This unique facade is designed based on the result of computed calculation to optimize the wind and the sunlight inside.

The office workers inside can feel the sunlight and winds through each hole of the facade.

The environment of the neighborhood could be changed, but it is almost stable because all the buildings in this urban area are designed to maximize the floor areas.

In Japan, the maximum floor area ratio is regulated by zoning,

I think this passive design is ultimate sustainable design for office buildings in urban areas of Tokyo.

odawara ramen

Odawara is located in Kanagawa prefecture and famous for fresh seafoods and kamaboko, or boiled fish paste.

Besides seafood, local ramen is also unique and famous.

It is featured in chicken-base soup of dark charcoal color topped with Japanese chervil.

One of the most famous and popular ramen restaurant is Iida Shouten located in Yugawara.

I went there at 11am, but they have already delivered pre-order tickets of that day. So, I could not wait for my turn. I didn’t know that restaurant is so popular that they cannot help but adopt the pre-order ticket system.

It starts delivering pre-order ticket every hour from 7am in the morning and stops delivering until all the bowls for the day are sold out.

So, on the day I visited, they sold out by 11am. It is incredible.

But, I was able to eat ramen noodles of its second line brand. Some of you are surprised at the second line for Ramen. Honestly, I was shocked, too.

The second line restaurant of Iida is located near the restaurant. The menu and price are completely different from those of the original one, but the same cook produces, manages and operates both restaurants.

Actually, the second restaurant was also crowded when I arrived before 11:30. After waiting for half an hour, I was able to taste the noodle as the picture shows.

The noodle was tasty with chewy texture. The soup was mild but rich flavor. Each topping has its presence but never interrupts the noodle and soup as side-ingredients.

I wonder how delicious the first line of Iida ramen is. I should have gotten up earlier and waited in the line of Iida.

Breakfast at Fujiya

Here is the breakfast at Fujiya Ryokan.

There are many small dishes to delight guests in the morning.

From the top corner of the left side in clockwise rotation,

seasonal salad topped with citrus jelly,

grilled dried baraccuda,

cucumber in mild broth,

boiled eggplant topped with sliced beef,

grilled spring onions in mild broth,

spicy cod roe called Mentaiko,

Japanese rolled omellet,

simmed Hijiki seaweed,

Miso soup

Especially for those who wants to taste a variety of foods, this type of course is welcomed. It is delightful in terms of looks.

Furthermore, steamed rice is served from the earthen-pot.

Usually, the steamed rice is mixed in a whole pot to make it evenly in terms of taste and texture, especially in case it is cooked in earthen pot. Because the bottom part of rice tends to be burnt and hard.

However, the center portion from the top part was served before mixing.

They wanted me to try the most tasty rice first, and then, they served the mixed rice to eat with many dishes.

I found the new way of eating steamed rice by the entertainer.

This way of entertaining the guests is brought from experience in the restaurant business of Kiwa corporation.

Dinner at Fujiya

Here is the course menu of Hyoroku tei at Fujiya Ryokan.

Aji Nigiri sushi covered in citrus peel with jelly of soft shell turtle, pickled cucumber

Soup of pike conger, summer delicacy

Otsukuri, sliced raw fish locally captured today

deep flied minced shrimp in Manganji sweet pepper

fresh oyster with spiced Chinese wine

grilled sweetfish dipped with citrus source

earthen- pot steamed rice topped with grilled ell

cold kuzu starch noodles dipped with brown sugar syrup

It war too much for me, so they kept and served the boiled rice with grilled ell at the room so that I could eat it as night snack.

Fujiya Ryokan

There still exist many traditional Ryokans in Yugawara. The room of traditional Ryokan is equipped with tatami mat, but some of them are renovated into the modern style with beds on carpet. Here is an example.

Fujiya Ryokan was established in 1876 and went bankrupt in 2002.

I don’t know why such a historical hotel went down, but the owner family might not be able to adjust their style to the changing needs of guests day by day.

At the end of the day, the ownership was transfered and the buildings were renovated by Kiwa corporation group and completed early this year.

That company is famous for many Chinese restaurant brands in Japan. It is moving in other cuisine restaurants like Japanese or Italian and other than restaurant businesses these days. For that company, Fujiya Ryokan is the first trial to enter the hotel industry.

This new Fujiya Ryokan is equipped with all amenities such as a restaurant, library and large communal bath of hot spring.

The standard room looks as below.

Simple but quality walnut furnitures matches with the Japanese traditional taste.

The window is covered with the screen like shoji, the wooden frame attached with white paper.

The bath room is also simple but well-designed.

The indoor communal bath is too simple and it might be dessatisfying for those who expect awesome hot spring because hot spring resort hotels usually equip the wide communal bath area with several bath tabs both indoors and outdoors.

I found the differenciating point of Fujiya Ryokan is the dining that is the strength of Kiwa.

Most restaurant brands of Kiwa are featured in distinguished dishes served by well-trained waitresses in unique dining space.

The strengths are realized in Fujiya Ryokan.

To be continued.

Yugawara, backroom of Tokyo

There are many hot springs to visit from Tokyo on weekend. Actually, there are many hot springs in Tokyo, even though hot spring water is taken out of a thousand meter deep wells. You can stay at some hot spring facilities over night. But if you want to enjoy more authentic style of hot spring, I recommend you to visit traditional hot spring areas where many hot spring resort hotels are located. We call those hotels Ryokan, written in 旅館, literally meaning travel house.

Among international tourists, Hakone is the most famous hot spring area near Tokyo because it is closed to Mt. Fuji. Besides Hakone, you have another choice, Yugawara in Kanagawa prefecture.

It is located in the south of Mt. Fuji and Hakone.

It takes only 90 minutes by express tain from Tokyo station to Yugawara station.

So, it is called Okuzashiki of Tokyo and it has been favored among men of power such as politicians, financers and intellectuals.

But, what does Okuzashiki mean for them? Okuzashiki literally means back room or inner parlor. The opposite is Omote zashiki, the room to welcome guests publicly.

In a nutshell, they can enjoy and relux privately in Yugawara, forgetting their public role.

Close to Yugawara station, there is Gosho Jinja shrine where Minamoto Yoritomo prayed for the victory in 1180. He successfully won the battle and established his shogunate in Kamakura in 1192.

At the shrine precinct, the camphor tree has been planted since then. Its circumference is around fifteen meters.

Fudonotaki, the water fall enshrining Fudomyoo, is another attraction.

Fudomyoo is Acala, king of wisdom in Buhddism.

It was hot that day, but it was very comfortable around the water fall in the woods, feeling the atmosphere of nature worship.

Apart from bustle of the big city, a lot of men of power freshened themselves for their work in the backroom of Tokyo.