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Eating the 24 seasons

April 18, 2024 - To celebrate our opening in Japan this month, our Executive Chefs are illuminating sekki, the country’s seasonal calendar, and digging into what it means to eat hyper-seasonally, sustainably, and scrumptiously at Six Senses Kyoto.

24 is the magic number

Japan is well known for its seasonal delights, from delicate spring cherry blossoms to stunning autumn foliage. But did you know it consciously divides the calendar into 24 sekki, or solar seasons, that can be traced back to ancient Chinese civilization when it was introduced into Japan around the sixth century?

Mapped around the four solstices and lasting approximately 15 days, each sekki is characterized by a fascinating mixture of culture and nature that marks the progress of the unfolding seasons, paying homage to the evanescence and fleeting beauty of impermanence as well as marking astronomical events and natural phenomenon.

Sekki traditionally served as a guiding principle for farmers, helping them understand when to plow, plant, sow, and harvest. Today, it allows our chefs at Six Senses Kyoto to celebrate the bounty and flavor of the seasons, add nourishment and nutrition to every bite, and remain deeply rooted in local culture and history.

Eating in harmony with sekki is a measured and meaningful method of eating mindfully, supported by our Eat With Six Senses ethos, making natural, local, and sustainable ingredients the hero of each dish that not only nurtures your microbiome but also tastes divine.

Hyper-seasonal dining at Sekki restaurant

At Sekki restaurant, our all-day dining concept, named for its rotating menus and drinks selection inspired and guided by these 24 seasons, our Executive Chef Hiroki Shishikura and Executive Pastry Chef Reiko Yokota devise creative menus based on our bountiful local larder.

Executive Chef Hiroki embodies the city’s deep respect for local ingredients. His passion for showcasing Kyoto’s exceptional produce shines through in his vegetable-centric approach to his cooking philosophy. Honing his craft in luxury international hotels across Japan, Hiroki draws upon his expertise in French and Italian techniques, seamlessly blending them with time-honored Japanese culinary traditions. For him, working in harmony with sekki means, “Instead of simply combining heritage with modern dining principles, I see sekki as helping us go back to the roots of cooking where we highlight and celebrate the beauty of natural ingredients.”

Nurturing connections with local farmers and artisanal producers grants him unparalleled access to the freshest, most seasonal offerings, ensuring his creations consistently reflect the best of what nature has to offer. He elaborates, “I take a classic approach when preparing my ingredients, which helps to bring out the best flavors of the produce.”

Executive Pastry Chef Reiko shares the same passionate approach to seasonality. “I believe a simple yet well-thought-out recipe enhances the beauty of the ingredients, and that desserts can be nourishing as well as indulgent. I incorporate traditional techniques like fermentation of miso, amazake, and pickling, which are an integral part of Japanese food culture.”

Chef Reiko’s global upbringing deeply influenced her artistry in the world of pastry. Trained at some of the most coveted French restaurants and prestigious five-star international hotels in Japan, her culinary journey is a beautiful blend of diverse cultures. Driven by a passion for wellness, she skillfully crafts healthy desserts that are not only delicious but also nourish the body by incorporating fermentation techniques and natural sweeteners into her creations.

Afternoon tea: a moment of discovery and surprise

At Sekki restaurant, we have partnered with a Kyoto-based artisanal tea producer to develop 24 sekki tea blends. All designed to sip according to the season, they pair beautifully with a delicious range of sweet and savory treats.

As Chef Hiroki explains, “Seasonality is a key concept in our culture that we celebrate through traditional events, nature, and food. We show appreciation for what nature gives us and, as an island country, we are blessed with an abundance of produce throughout the year. To me, the essence of cooking is about understanding the season, the best ingredients at any given time, and how to make the most out of them.”

He goes on to say, “We incorporate this concept into our menu by working with local producers and artisans to provide ultra-seasonal produce that varies week-by-week. So, every time you visit Sekki, there’s always a moment of discovery and surprise in the dining experience.”

Grain rain

We open our doors on April 23, 2024, to coincide with the “Grain Rain” solar season, signifying the transition from spring to summer. Each sekki has a purely practical title that also evokes a sense of poetry, from ‘insects awaken’ to ‘white dew’. As Chef Hiroki explains, “Grain Rain is the last solar term in spring and it’s actually an interesting period when you see the transition from spring to summer ingredients with a shift from leaf and mountain vegetables to more robust, colorful produce.”

For Chef Reiko, grain rain means, “We can expect more vibrant ingredients, like summer strawberries, that are full of color, energy, and power. I’m looking forward to incorporating these into my pastries and desserts.”

An invitation from nature

Sekki is an invitation to radically slow down, find beauty in the smallest details of our everyday environment, and become more attuned to the rhythms of the natural world. From the 11th-century classic, The Tale of Genji, “It is nature that gives me the most pleasure, the changes through the seasons, the blossoms and leaves of autumn and spring, the shifting patterns of the skies.”

Opening offer dining credits at Sekki restaurant

Be one of the first to experience Sekki at Six Senses Kyoto by booking our Now in Kyoto opening offer and enjoying dining and spa credits, daily breakfast, and 10 percent savings on accommodation.

 

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