[A Short Time Ago, I Visited Junidanya in Gion, Kyoto]

Some time ago, I had the pleasure of visiting Junidanya in Gion, Kyoto. The restaurant is famous for being the originator of "mizutaki beef (shabu-shabu)," but it is also known for being a gathering place for key members of the Mingei Movement and other prominent cultural figures. As a fan of mingei (folk art), it is a place I have longed to visit at least once. This time, my wish came true.

The main store is located in a corner of an alley lined with old-fashioned tea shops and restaurants, which is very Kyoto-like. Upon entering the store through the noren curtain, you are first greeted by a tiger hand-painted by Shiko Munakata. The tiger's ink lines, which look as if they are about to burst into flames, are vivid and powerful! But there is something humorous about it, and it has a warmth to it that will ease your mind.

Passing through the fusuma sliding doors, we entered the second floor. The room we were shown was very cozy with light streaming in through a large window. The alcove and shelves are decorated with ceramic works by Kanjiro Kawai and Shoji Hamada, and the sliding door is also a print by Shiko Munakata. Normally, the sliding doors are open, but when the store owner realized that we were folk art enthusiasts, he kindly closed the doors so that we could see all sides of the room. I wonder if Muneyoshi Yanagi and his friends of the Mingei Movement used to discuss their passionate thoughts in this room... As I soak in the space, I get a strange feeling as if I will jump over time before I know it.

The shabu-shabu is served with meat and vegetables in a special broth and sesame sauce. The meat is tender and melts in your mouth. The soup stock is simmered in a copper pot called a "火鍋子 (huoguozi)," which was designed by the first owner and has been used for decades while being repaired. While appreciating the beauty and elegance of these carefully used utensils, we also heard that the number of craftsmen who can repair these pots and pans is decreasing year by year.

While enjoying the dishes, we were told about episodes related to the works and memories of his predecessor, and by the time we left, our stomachs and hearts were completely full. It was a wonderful restaurant where we were treated to the most luxurious moments in a space where we could feel the works of art coming to life.

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