Firefly Theme Namagashi 亀屋良長 蛍テーマ生菓子
Fireflies: Quickly Fading Beauty
Live while you can. Japanese love something fragile and rare and that is in season for a short period. The cherry blossom is the very best example, but fireflies are similar. Fireflies in Kyoto can still be been seen along some of the rivers and streams in the quieter and greener parts of the city, but they quickly fade and disappear after a few short weeks.
This shinise was established in 1803, the late Edo period, is now the 7th generation, being in business for over 200 years. In addition to producing excellent Japanese confections, Kameya Yoshinaga also offers confectionary making classes, unfortunately in Japanese only.
The store is famous for its well, the Samegai Well (醒ケ井).
Wells in Kyoto and Kyoto Water
This well is among the ‘top 3 wells in Kyoto’ (Japanese love a top 3 list). The others are Agatai Well (縣井), in the Goshi Imperial Palace and Somei (染井), in Nashinoki Shrine on the west side of imperial palace grounds.
Samegai well is located one street east from Shijo-Horikawa intersection, on very narrow Samegai-street, where Kameya Yoshinaga store is. Modern construction in Kyoto, especially the subway, disrupted the water flow to many shallow wells in the city and cause them to go dry. In 1991, the owner of Kameya Yoshinaga decided to revive the Samegai Well and deepened it to 80 meters.
The flow of water through the aquifer below Kyoto is quite brisk, so a steady stream of fresh and clean water percolated and purified down through the North Mountains produces water perfectly suited to Japanese cuisine. Kameya Yoshinaga uses Samegai Well water in all of its confections.
At the entrance to the store, there is a tiny garden with rocks and greenery and a black stone ‘well’ in the shape of the traditional Japanese well. The wet black stone, with clean fresh water continually flowing over it has a cooling effect on the Japanese psyche. How about for you?
Kameya Yoshinaga Entrance Garden and Samegai Well Revival
Kameya Yoshinaga Samegai Well Revival
Kameya Yoshinaga Samegai Well Sign