An adventurous spirit and a passing down of skills to the next generation: this is what traditional Kyoto cuisine needs today.

Gion Sasaki
Hiroshi Sasaki

Gion Sasaki Hiroshi Sasaki

New frontiers in Kyoto cuisine and designs to open in Paris and obtain Michelin stars

What are your future dreams for Kyoto cuisine as a whole and for yourself?

I may be repeating myself, but going fully experimental will not do with Kyoto cuisine, so you must rely on the basis of tradition to deploy originality. I want to expand the culinary repertoire of Kyoto cuisine in this way. I’d like for the next generation to then pick up from where I leave off.

I want to see those who are training with me today succeed in their own way. That’s true of all of them — both the ones in a position to go solo and those not yet ready. To that end, I want to create the system I talked about earlier. If we can achieve that, then my last shop will be an okonomiyaki savory pancake shop with my wife. She has borne a lot of grief living with me, so I want to be able to say, “Hey, let’s close the pancake shop today and go for a drive.” I’d like to enjoy that kind of life.

At the same time, I also want to open in Paris. I want to open a shop there and get a Michelin star.

Why Paris?

Paris is like Kyoto. Last year, I collaborated with Thierry Marx of Sur Mesure at the Mandarin Oriental, and I went to Paris four times. I’ve been going there for seventeen years running. When I went for the third time, I really felt how it resembled Kyoto in that they don’t open up to non-Parisians at first. There are gates in front of apartment complexes — not unlike the walls you see in front of better homes in Kyoto. Paris is also a culinary capital, and French cuisine and Kyoto cuisine have their traditions. And yet, there are few authentic Japanese restaurants in Paris, so I feel we need to convey Kyoto culture there.

I have a lot of offers from places like Singapore and China to fund shops there, and I went to visit New York. But my feeling is that it has to be Paris. I have no intention of trying to turn a profit. I just want to go head-to-head with the historic capital. I have lots of friends there, and they would support me. I don’t have anyone to send to Paris, though, so I’m thinking I would close Gion Sasaki and go myself.

(Interviewer: Osamu Saito, Writer: Yasuyo Miyazaki, Photographer: Kengo Osaka)

Gion Sasaki appearance

Gion Sasaki

Komatsu-tyo, Yasaka-dori Yamato-oji Higashi-hairu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-city, Kyoto
10 minutes walk from Gionshijo station, Keihan railway
12 minutes walk from ShijoKawaramachi station, Kyoto line, Hankyu railway
Sundays, Second Mondays, Irregular holidays