Fueki Ryuko (不易流行)


Have you ever heard of a Japanese phrase Fueki Ryuko?

It’s a concept that a famous Haiku poet Basho Matsuo took to create his haiku poems.

It is translated as a balance between unchanged values (substance) and values of changes (fashion and evolution).

He thought the attitude of taking this balance as a very Japan unique character.

And, he may be right because we observe many Fueki Ryukos in this country even now.

One of examples is Toraya, a traditional Japanese sweets creator and retailer.

It was founded in more than 500 years ago to provide best quality of sweets for tea ceremonies by then nobility and celebrities.

In an interview of an anthropology magazine “Chichi”, Mr. Kurokawa, the president of Toraya describes his company’s Fueki Ryuko as follows:


One of its unchanged values is finest effort in invisible part. One episode of how much Toraya’s craftsmen emphasize the importance of invisible process of creating its sweets is that when a craftsman colors a leaf shape depicted on the surface of a manjuu sweet by a fine brush, he strokes from the leaf’s bottom toward its upside although it is easier the other way round. Consumers should not be able to even notice the difference.

Yet, the craftsman believes that in a real world, a lively leaf stretches from its bottom upward and he just wants to pass such realism to customers even in an invisible part.

In parallel with its effort to keep such traditional spirits unchanged, Mr. Kurokawa also explains that Toraya is always outreaching new generations to learn their tastes. It has opened a brand new shop at the Tokyo Midtown and one new workshop for customers in Shizuoka.  Besides, Toraya has an antenna shop in Paris, France to not only introduce Japanese unique sweets there, but also learn new trends of sweets from France so that Toraya’s tastes can evolve and get accepted by new generations in the world.


You might find Japan so slow in making changes or so short in creating innovations.

It may be due to the heavy weight and momentum of Fueki (不易).

However, seeds of Ryuko (流行) are here, there and anywhere.

Japanese people tend to get bored with one fashion so quick unless it is sustained by unchanged value.

There seems to be no golden theory to define the right balance of Fueki Ryuko.

One thing for sure is Japanese welcome foreign new fashions and trends.


Question whether they sustain in Japan for good or not is depending on how they fit with Japanese unchanged values.