Would You Like to Have Some Bubuzuke ?

The people of Kyoto are well known for their ambiguous behavior and way of speaking. They believe that some things are better left unsaid. As a gaijin (foreigner), I am never able to navigate the exceedingly complex social system of Kyoto without some blunders, but I find that the invisible wall of politeness can be charming and intriguing. The wall is there, but it is soft and padded.

The people of Kyoto often use non-verbal cues in embarrassing social situations. For example, when a Kyotoite asks if a guest wants to eat bubuzuke, known outside Kyoto as ochazuke, it really means that the person has overstayed or shows up at the wrong time, i.e., at dinner time, and is politely asked to leave.

Kyoto has a unique culture of idiosyncrasy and ambiguity. The people of Kyoto had lived under changing regimes from Kyoto to Tokyo, and they had to protect themselves and ensure their survival, so they tend not to show their stance clearly and to attack others openly. This nurtures individuality and diversity. While most of Japanese society and its organizations value harmony over individuality, Kyoto’s individual-minded entrepreneurs have been able to go their own way on their own turf. But how can we see through what Kyoto people really have on their mind? “If you respect the culture, then you can tell eventually,” said Takeshi Wakagabayashi-san, founder and designer at Sou.Sou , during our interview in a small, cozy coffee shop near Nishiki Market .

Apart from Ichigen-san (the first-timer), the bubuzuke invitation is another exclusive Kyoto tradition. My Kyoto-born girlfriend Yoshiko-chan told me this tradition has mostly disappeared, but when people want to tease someone from Kyoto, they would imitate the soft and polite Kyoto accent to say, “Would you like to have some bubuzuke?”

No comments:

Post a Comment