Dreamton – a British Village in Kyoto

Featured

imageTwenty weeks in to what has been quite a rough pregnancy so far, the other day my husband and I decided to go on a little day out in Kyoto. I understand why they refer to “confinement” during pregnancy because I’ve hardly been over the doorstep all summer, so this little outing was a particular treat. And what a treat indeed! Despite living in Kyoto prefecture for ten years, I don’t recall ever having had an opportunity to visit the city of Kameoka. Now, thanks to my time in Nagoya and having learned to drive at last (although hubby is doing most of the driving recently as it’s become increasingly difficult for me with my growing tummy), I have a car and that gives me more of a chance to explore outside of Kyoto city. So yesterday we went to Kameoka. The reason: I had heard of a little place called Dreamton, a British village in the heart of Kyoto countryside. Curiosity sufficiently piqued, I decided I had to go and explore.

image

Dreamton is one of the most intriguing places I’ve been to in Japan. I’ve been to places like Meiji-mura in Gifu, which is home to several important historical buildings from the Meiji era, and I’ve visited some of Japan’s other themed visitor facilities, of which there are plenty. The former British consulate building in Hakodate, which is now a wonderful museum, does a fabulous afternoon tea set and I have fond memories of my visit there. The Glover Gardens complex in Nagasaki, another historical remnant of British settlement in Japan is also an incredible place that allows visitors to get a sense of what life was like for British settlers in Japan in those early days of contact. Dreamton, however, is not like these places of historical interest at all. Dreamton is the complete creation of a Japanese Anglophile, and it is this point that makes it so fascinating. According to the staff there, it was established 5-6 years ago. The buildings are made to look like very old buildings that you would find in a typical village somewhere in the UK, and it comes across as very authentic-looking indeed.

image

The Pont Oak tearoom and restaurant

Dreamton reminded me of myself as a teenager and the passion I developed for Japan, albeit on a much, much grander and larger scale. As a teenager, I once transformed my bedroom into my image of a Japanese home. It had hand-made, makeshift tatami mats and sliding doors. It was decorated with pictures of Ukiyo-e woodblock prints. I had tea ceremony utensils, chopsticks and rice bowls, and I slept on a kind of makeshift futon. I was very proud of my creation and I loved it! However, it was naturally quite different to the real thing. Dreamton is impressively authentic looking. Upon entering the grounds, it feels just like you’ve stepped into a small English village. It was the small details that stood out the most to give it it’s authentic feel. As I entered the first small shop to go through into the main complex, the tinkling sound of the old bell on the top corner of the door to let the shop keeper know that a customer had arrived felt so familiar. I was greeted by an elderly gentleman dressed in a white shirt, dark trousers and a waistcoat wearing glasses and an old top hat with slightly frayed edges. The sight of him and the surroundings of British antiques and other goods for sale really made me feel like I’d travelled instantaneously to a British countryside shop. But more than the sights, it was the smell; it even smelled like a small country shop somewhere in England. The feeling of the rough stone floor under my feet too, gave me that sense that I was no longer in Japan.

Below is a picture of the entrance to the shop where you place your order for the restaurant in advance:

image

The entrance to the first shop. You can order your meal and purchase gifts like soap, fridge magnets, teas, shortbread biscuits and sweets. They also do take outs of cake!

image

A plate of fish ‘n’ chips with mushy peas! Yummy goodness for 1,900 yen.

Despite the slight difficulty in access, the place being deep in the mountains of Kameoka, it was quite crowded with visitors. We spotted number plates from Kyoto, Osaka and even Fukui in the car park. We had a 10-15 minute wait before we could be seated in the restaurant for lunch and it was late too; we didn’t get there until 3pm in the afternoon. Many of the other customers were there for the cream tea set (1,250 yen) or the afternoon tea set (2,100 yen), but my husband and I had not had time for lunch yet so we tried the fish and chips (1,900 yen per meal), which also comes with a cup of tea. I was very pleasantly surprised when my plate arrived and on it I saw mushy peas! I think it was my first time to eat mushy peas in Japan, and very tasty they were too. The chips were like regular fries you can get in many places in Japan, but the fish was very  good, very like you would get in a chip shop in the UK. It was delicious. And the tea! I enjoyed that so much I had to order another pot. One small cup was just not enough. The food was very filling and I struggled to eat all of it, which felt authentic too. It’s not often that I can eat a whole portion of fish and chips by myself in the UK. Even the utensils were authentic. We were given proper old-school style fish knives with the curved tip at the end and a cream-coloured handle. These were Sheffield-made knives. The lady who served us our meal was dressed like a maid. She looked like she had come straight from the set of filming in the Downton Abbey series. All of the staff had fabulous costumes and the service was truly wonderful. The staff took time to kindly make sure we were comfortable, answer our questions, and even give us a bit of background information on the place.

image

The Menu

Here’s a video I found on YouTube showing some of the scenes of Dreamton:

Here’s another YouTube video with commentary in Japanese and an interview with the founder, Haruyama Mayumi aka Marie:

Some more pictures from my own visit:

image

A view of the garden

image

image

Gift shop and antiques shop

The place has a shop where you can buy clothes designed by the founder, particularly dresses in typical British style florals and tartan styles. There is an antiques shop where you can find all kinds of things. I was reminded of some of the things my grandparents used to have their house when they were alive.

Aside from the shops and restaurant/tea room, Dreamton also provides wedding services and you can stay overnight in the Bed and Breakfast hotel.

What a great place to observe the connection between Britain and Japan alive and well. It was really a great day out, and I’m looking forward to going again. I highly recommend it. The website (mostly in Japanese) is here: http://dreamton.co.jp/ Do check it out if you get a chance. I’m looking forward to visiting in May when apparently the place is awash with the colours of roses. I was told it was lovely in winter too when there’s snow fall and smoke coming from the chimneys. I can’t wait for my next visit!

image

Advertisements

2015 Kyoto Bakumatsu Festival

Featured

2015 Bakumatsusai Poster

The Kyoto Bakumatsu Festival will be held again this year from September 14th-20th.

There will be a panel display held at ZEST Oike, the underground shopping mall near Oike Station from September 14th-19th.

The main event with stalls and entertainment will be held outside Kyoto City Hall on Saturday, September 19th.

Then on Sunday September 20th from 1pm there will be a talk (in Japanese only) on Bakumatsu History at Doshisha University of which I will again be a participant. I look forward to seeing you there if you can make it!

  • Eleanor

New Book Chapter Announcement

Featured

bpix-cover pic

The Japan Society’s series, Britain and Japan: Biographical Portraits, has just been expanded with the publication of Volume IX, and I’m pleased to say that I also have a chapter in there called  Mutô Chôzô (1881-1942), and A Short History of Anglo-Japanese Relations. Sir Hugh Cortazzi has compiled and edited this work published by Renaissance Books. In all, there are 57 chapters describing the men and women who have worked toward U.K.-Japan relations.

Since coming to work at Aichi Prefectural University I have been following up research on this little known character, Mutô Chôzô. There is a fantastic Collection at Nagasaki University’s Economics Library which belonged to him, and many of the sources can be viewed online. Mutô’s work, A Short History of Anglo-Japanese Relations, was first published in 1936 at a time when Anglo-Japanese relations where becoming strained in the build-up to World War Two. Nevertheless, the book was a pioneering little work, and although it is somewhat out of date now, it still has some gems of knowledge as an introductory text on the subject.

Updates, and bits and bobs

Featured

Aichi Prefectural University,Nagakute Campus at sundown

Aichi Prefectural University,
Nagakute Campus at sundown

My first year as a lecturer at Aichi Prefectural University (APU) is coming to a close. There have been many challenges for me on the administrative side of the job, this being the first time for me to be in a faculty member position. Getting used to the system, the new classes I’m teaching, and the working styles here has been exciting and a great learning curve.
In addition, getting used to life in Nagoya and Aichi as a whole has also brought with it new challenges and lessons learned. For one thing, I’m now in the process of learning to drive! “Better late than never”, as the saying goes. Aichi is known for being home to one of Japan’s leading car manufacturers, Toyota, so this seems as good a place as any to start learning, although I hope I don’t pick up any of the nasty habits of the well-known “Nagoya-bashiri” while I’m here. I have already witnessed two accidents since I’ve been here, and on several occasions I’ve spotted some car drivers going through red traffic lights (I almost got run over by one of them!) and others not signalling when turning. Not good, Nagoya! Not good. 😦
In terms of research, I have been discovering some interesting new things. I have begun to trace the work of a man called Mutō Chōzō (武藤長蔵, 1881-1942) who wrote “A Short History of Anglo-Japanese Relations” published in 1936.
The reason for following up his work is because I have been looking for a useful basic textbook in English to use with my students at APU on the subject of UK-Japan relations. So far, I have not found one basic text that gives a brief general outline of the subject. I have therefore started to create my own for use in class.

The interesting thing for me about Mutō Chōzō was that he was born here in Aichi. He was born on June 9th, 1881 in Umibe-gun, Tsushima-chō; what is now Tsushima city in Aichi Prefecture. In 1907, Mutō became a professor of Nagasaki Higher Commercial School, which is now the Faculty of Economics at Nagasaki University. The university still houses the vast Mutō Collection, the publications, documents and other sources that Mutō used in his research, as well as some of his own personal items such as photographs, his personal seal and some letters. One of the photographs (believed to have been taken in May 1919) shows Mutō pictured with the famed Japanese novelists Akutagawa Ryūnosuke (1892-1927), Kikuchi Kan (1888-1948) and the playwright, Nagami Tokutarō (1890-1950). This picture can also be seen on a fascinating pamphlet created by the university called CHOHO.

This year, 2013, marks the 400th anniversary of trade relations between Britain and Japan, and means lots of special events will be held in both countries.  There’s a great website with a wealth of information about events that are happening throughout the year: Japan400.

Finally, the new academic year starts in April. Let’s see what new endeavours that will bring…

Lecture on Nakai Hiromu at Sokushu-in Temple

Featured

On May 20th, 2012, I had the great honour of giving a talk in Japanese about Nakai Hiromu at the temple where he is buried; Sokushu-in, within the Tofuku-ji Temple complex in the south-east of Kyoto city.

About 20 people came to listen to the talk and I received several questions and comments afterward. One of the listeners was kind enough to send me copies of some photographs he took, and he has given me kind permission to post them here.

Speaking about Nakai at Sokushu-in

Preparing to wash the grave

It was an excellent opportunity to give a talk in Japanese. Earlier in the year, I had been given the wonderful opportunity to talk  to fellow members of the Kyoto Ryoma-kai on the subject of Nakai Hiromu. I’m hoping there will be more such opportunities in the future to introduce the important role that Nakai played in Japanese history.

Sokushu-in itself is a beautiful temple. It is not usually open to the general public, except for a brief time each year during the red leaves season. The main complex of Tofuku-ji Temple is well-known for it’s red leaves and receives thousands of visitors each year.

Sokushu-in is the Shimazu clan (Feudal Lords of Satsuma) temple in Kyoto and it has seen many illustrious guests in its time. The great ‘Saigo-don’ (Saigo Takamori, 1828-1877) is known to have been here for secret meetings. Also, there are several monuments commemorating those who were lost in the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877. The grave of Narahara Kizaemon (1831-1865) (famous for attacking the British merchant, Charles Lennox Richardson, in the Namamugi Incident of 1862) is also here, near to the Nakai/Yokoyama family grave compound.

The grave of Narahara Kizaemon

I enjoyed this opportunity to again wear the kimono given to me for the occasion of my doctoral graduation ceremony. Here in Aichi, unfortunately I don’t see many people wearing kimono, so coming back from Kyoto on the Shinkansen, I probably stuck out like a sore thumb (even more than I do anyway, I mean). Still, it was all good fun!

Thank you to the organizers, and the most attentive audience, at Sokushu-in. I had a lovely day; albeit a very nervous one!

Latest news

Featured

It has been a long time coming, and I have nobody to blame for that but myself, but I have finally managed to obtain my doctorate. I have finally completed my thesis, entitled, “Nakai Hiromu: Meiji Statesman and Hero of Anglo-Japanese Relations”. My next mission is working toward the publication of a book on the subject; anybody know any good publishers? 🙂

A great deal has happened since the last time I wrote a blog, which was quite a while ago. Now I live in Nagoya and have become a faculty member at Aichi Prefectural University in the Department of British and American Studies. This allows to me teach in my own field of Anglo-Japanese relations; it also means I get to talk a lot about Nakai Hiromu!

A new and exciting phase has begun…

Nakai in Biographical Portraits Series

Featured

I’m a little late in making this announcement:

It’s been some time since I wrote a blog having moved to another post, but before I digress further let me tell you about a new publication.

Britain & Japan Biographical Portraits, Volume VII, compiled and edited by Hugh Cortazzi (Global Oriental, 2010).

This, the seventh book in the series, has chapters on many characters who have played a role in Anglo-Japanese Relations. This particular tome includes chapters on Nakai Hiromu’s good friend Inoue Kaoru (written by Andrew Cobbing) and one of Josiah Conder’s (of Rokumeikan fame) students Tatsuno Kingo (written by Ian Ruxton) as well as British diplomat Francis O. Adams (written by Hugh Cortazzi) along with a plethora of other interesting and key persons.

It had long been a dream of mine to get a chapter on Nakai Hiromu in this excellent series and finally that dream has come true!

More about the publication can be seen here.