Niken Chaya Nakamura-rou

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    Niken Chaya Nakamura-rou

    Dishes with heart for welcoming deities

    Located by the south gate of Yasaka Jinja Shrine, this extremely old restaurant, Niken Chaya Nakamura-rou, is said to have opened in the late Muromachi period (1336–1573).  They have witnessed the history of Kyoto in the middle of the city for generations and more particularly, supported people involved in the gorgeous Gion Matsuri Festival by providing food.  For Nakamura-rou, the most important amongst numerous festival-related rituals is Chigo Shasan, held on July 13th every year.  In the festival, a few children who play crucial roles as avatars of the sacred deity visit Yasaka Jinja Shrine and purify themselves.  One of them, called “Nama Chigo,” is the most important.  He rides on the Naginata-hoko Float which always goes first in the grand parade and is the only float in the festival bearing a live Chigo (the remaining 32 carry figurines).  Two other central children are “Kuze Komagata Chigo” who serve as messengers of the deity of Yasaka Jinja Shrine, Susano-o no Mikoto.  They ride on horseback as avatars of the deity and lead the mikoshi portable shrines in the procession.  July 13th is the day that these children become a sacred existence through prayers and purification at Yasaka Jinja Shrine.  In the early morning, the master of Nakamura-rou also purifies himself and brings special rice cakes for the Chigo children. After the ritual at the shrine, the children are invited to Nakamura-rou and the master offers them ceremonial tea with special sweets from Kameya Iori (Chigo of Naginata-hoko Float in the morning and Kuze Komagata Chigo in the afternoon).  Lunch follows the tea ceremony in a large banquet room.  In this way, Nakamura-rou has been deeply involved in the history of Kyoto for hundreds of years. “No matter how many times we perform this service every year, we start to feel the deep responsibility as the day welcoming the Chigo draws near,” the master, Mr. Masamitsu Tsuji says, with his second son, Yoshihiko, standing by. Their heart and spirit welcoming the deity will surely remain constant for the future generations.

    Translation to English by AD BRAIN INC.
    Fujin-Gaho,July issue,2011


    Name Niken Chaya Nakamura-rou
    Address 京都府京都市東山区祇園八坂神社鳥居内
    Tel 075-561-0016
    Hours 11:30-14:00 (L.O.); 17:00-19:00 (L.O.)
    Closed Thurs.
    Resevation Reservation is required 3 days in advance.
    URL http://nakamurarou.com/