Translated by Jasmine Nishino
Enjoy a Vegetarian Lunch at Cafe Guri, Kamakurabori Assembly Hall
Written by Mami Wakamatsu
The Kamakurabori Museum, found in Kamakura, is not only dedicated to this traditional engraving technique, but also a popular lunch spot where cafe-goers can enjoy Buddhist vegetarian cuisine or coffee from these hand-crafted bowls.
Kamakurabori, otherwise known as Kamakura carved works or Kamakura lacquerware, are one of the many traditional handicrafts found throughout Japan. The detailed engravings and refined lacquerware together create a strikingly beautiful contrast of light and dark in each piece. This traditional art was created in Kamakura, Kanagawa prefecture and its techniques have been passed down through generations to this day. In recent years these skills have been even used to make kitchenware and other household goods as well.
The Kamakura Lacquerware Museum and Café
This time, we would like to introduce to you the café located inside the Kamakurabori Assembly Hall where you can actually use the lacquerware.
A Relaxing Café with Kamakura Lacquerware
On the first floor of the museum, you can find the café, guri. This café was made for people to actually dine and enjoy using Kamakura lacquerware.
The inside has a comforting atmosphere with tables made with natural wood and chairs painted with lacquer. Here, you can enjoy coffee, desserts and a Shojin ryori-style (*1) lunch provided on a selection of beautiful Kamakura lacquerware plates and utensils.
*1 Shojin ryori: a type of vegetarian cuisine derived from the dietary habits of Buddhist monks, there are no meat or fish ingredients involved in this cooking technique.
Meal Made with Selected Japanese Products in Beautiful Dishes
There are three types of lunch dishes you can select from. There is the guri burger, which features a patty made from tofu curd, carrots, and onions (1200 yen before tax), chicken, maitake mushrooms with yuba (*2) on rice (830 yen before tax), and the Toki gozen (1500 yen before tax).
This photo is of the Toki gozen. In this dish you can enjoy rice from Kyoto, kenchinjiru (*3) from Kamakura’s Kencho-ji Temple, and Koya-dofu (*4) with seasonal vegetables. Each dish is made exclusively from Japanese ingredients and, following the traditional practices of Buddhist cuisine, are served in multiple Kamakura lacquerware bowls and placed on an ozen (*5) tray, which make the presentation beautiful and all the more enticing to eat.
Each tableware used in the café is an original creation, custom-made so that the dishes served will look delicious; they have been crafted from the size right down to the curve of the plates themselves. Not only do the meals look appealing, but the light and smooth texture of the tableware gives them an entirely different impression than standard plates or bowls.
*2 Yuba: tofu skin; a traditional ingredient made by boiling soy milk and removing the top layer.
*3 Kenchinjiru: a soup made from kelp and shiitake mushroom stock, with carrots, daikon radish, burdock and tofu in it.
*4 Koya-dofu: a dish featuring freeze dried tofu.
*5 Ozen: a tray on which multiple dishes comprising a single meal are served.
The seasoning of the dishes is simple, which allows you to taste the flavors of each ingredient easily. Especially the vegetables! The kenchinjiru soup is served in a bowl that is slightly larger than the standard Japanese soup bowl; the size has been calculated in order to make it easier to enjoy the pleasant aroma of the Japanese soup broth right from the bowl.
This was their seasonal dessert for the summer of 2016: anmitsu with candied mandarin orange peels. Anmitsu is a Japanese dessert featuring small agar jelly cubes with red bean paste, boiled sweetened peas and fruit. The candied mandarin orange peels on the side are cut in large slices and still have pieces of the fruit on them. At the café, you can also enjoy coffee, herbal tea and other desserts such as pound cake.
You can also purchase the trays and utensils used in the café in the shop right next to it.
Kamakura lacquerware is made of wood, so it is very light and easy to use. Aside from the contrast in the color on the engravings, the color and appearance of each dish will gradually change over time with use. The price of each piece is slightly on the higher side, but these dishes can be used for years and years. They also make for an excellent souvenir of your stay in Japan.
The Kamakura Lacquerware Museum hopes that more people, not only in Japan but around the world, will be able to use and enjoy Kamakura lacquerware in their daily lives. Please feel free to stop by anytime to enjoy the café, shop or even just to look around. If you happen to be spending the day in Kamakura, why not take a short break and visit this interesting hall?
Kamakurabori Assembly Hall
Address: 2-15-13 Komachi, Kamakura City, Kanagawa
Hours: 1st, 2nd and 4th floors 9:30-17:00, 3rd floor 9:30-17:00 (last entry 16:30)
Closed: Mondays (if a national holiday, the next day is closed, refer to website for details); Culture class closed in summer and New Year’s holidays
Credit cards: –
Other Languages: -
Nearest Station: Kamakura Station, JR Yokosuka Line or Enoshima Dentetsu
Access: 5 minute walk from east exit of Kamakura Station.
Price Range: Free (3rd Floor Museum has an admission fee)
Phone Number: 0467-25-1500
Homepage:Kamakurabori Assembly Hall (Japanese)