Though it is difficult to determine the exact establishment date, from an inscription dated 1726 found on the outer box of a Raden designed lacquer-ware confectionery box, we can estimated that by the mid-Edo period the store was already in business. It has continued 15 generations to its current family head, and nearly 300 years since its establishment. In recent years, historical document of “Genroku-ki” were found in a Kura (storehouse), one of the oldest dated, 3rd year of Genroku, but on another dated 1695 (8th year of Genroku), the name “Kagizen” can be discerned along with the address “Nawate Shijo Agaru”. With further investigation, it may be possible that the establishment date may be traced back to an even earlier date.
The origin of the name, ”Kagizen Yoshifusa” still cannot be confirmed accurately. As the family head held the name “zen” for generations, in time they were called “Kagiya no Zen” (Zen of the Kagi-store), and eventually from a certain time became to be known by the two character name “Kagi-zen”. And further in time, “Yoshifusa” was added to form the name we known today as “Kagizen Yoshifusa”.
Incidentally, the “Kyogashi”(Kyoto’s confectionery) we have today has its origins established in the Edo period. With the advent of “Kyogashi”, the history of Kagizen started.
Upon its establishment the store held its site at the address, Nawate Shijo Agaru, but with the expansion of Shijo-street the store moved to its current location.
The site of the store during the Meiji-period can be seen in the booklet called “Miyako no Sakigake”. This shopping guide booklet of Kyoto was published in 1883, presenting in a wide range, shops for clothing, food, and daily necessities. “Kagizen” is introduced on a copper plated print, and on paper in large print “Okashi Dokoro”, “Omushikashi Dokoro”, and displayed in a large step-showcase in the store. Confectioneries were delivered to the numerous temples and tea houses including the characteristic areas of Monzen-machi where Yasaka-shrine is located.
The shop became considerably busy at the start of the Showa era. During this time in which folk handicrafts movement was popular, Zenzo, the 12th generation family head took interest in folk handicrafts and assigned Tatsuaki Kuroda, a wood craftsman and a central figure in the movement to design and furnish the store. At that time, Kagizen became a salon where in the evenings many artists, writers, researchers gathered.
However, in 1942 with the death of Zenzo and with the Pacific war intensifying, the store closed its doors for the time.
In 1955, around the time when the chaos of post war had settled, the store reopened its doors. As in former times, the confectioneries were delivered to the neighborhood restaurants, temples and shrines, but through word of mouth, “Kuzukiri” became popular as an after the meal dessert and was made available in the shop. Eventually the second floor of the shop was made available for customers to enjoy the sweets. Though falling short as being a coffee shop, this long narrow room where the apprentice and maidservants lived, by the 1970’s, any mention of Kuzukiri, it was Kaizen and customers from all over Japan gathered to the store.
In 1998, the store was completely remodeled to what we see today. With a curious turn of fate connecting with Tatsuaki Kuroda, the second shop opened in the vicinity of Kodaiji, and Kagizen now continues to maintain these two stores.
And at another location, one of Kagizen’s new shop has opened.
Elegantly situated along the alley of Gion-Machi south-side, a place where we can spend time in leisure. Opened on November of 2012, is the 「ZEN CAFE + Kagizen Gift Shop」. ZEN CAFE’s interior is stylishly fashionable and sophisticated, all pleasantly in harmony.
Found next to the desk made of solid Japanese zelkova, are chairs that are suited for both Japanese and European style. Peeking through the strikingly cut-out window, we find the garden, drawing our attention to nature. Blending nicely are the sculptural earthenware and bowls formed by the hands of young artists. In the same mind as Kagizen’s 12th generation owner in supporting young artists of that period, Kagizen aspires to resonate with young artists of today. As had been done with care, the wish now is for greater enrichment and abundance. Inclusively we find this essence of Kagizen.
Kagizen Gift Shop with mainly dried confectioneries, is a shop which allows us to enjoy confectioneries in our daily lives. ZEN CAFE has a slightly different taste and atmosphere, however with similar air of simplicity and finesse. The various goods and tableware used for serving sweets in the Cafe are now available for purchase.
Sitting diagonally opposite to 「ZEN CAFE + Kagizen Gift Shop」, you will also find Kagizen’s Gallery, “Ku Kagiya”. Not solely for exhibiting, but also uniquely existing as a cultural Salon, holding various events for the arts and crafts. With the Cafe, Shop and gallery operating together; if this would assist in richly cultivating Kyoto — that would be the humble wish of Kagizen.