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January 17, 2023

「Fungicha(菌茶)」 Connecting to the Ecosystem through Mushrooms

In a corner of FabCafe Kyoto, a biolab dedicated to mushrooms has appeared. The giant transparent cube is an incubator for mushrooms, installed by the duo behind the ongoing project Fungicha(菌茶).

Fungicha(菌茶)is conceived by Gergely Péter Barna and Thomas Ortiz, through collecting and cultivating wild mushrooms and subsequently creating and drinking the tea from those mushrooms, they aim to find a new way for us to connect to nature. There are over 4000 species of mushroom naturally growing in Japan, yet we only consume just around 10 species in our daily lives. Through the humble wild mushroom that plays an irreplaceable role in the ecosystem, this project aims to explore a closer connection to the ecosystem. The Fungicha statement follows.

Fungicha(菌茶)
Gergely Péter Barna / Thomas Ortiz
ゲルゲイ バルナ / トマ オルティス

Humanity has been colonizing nature, looking at it as a resource, that is to be exploited in a productive way to its own benefit.

Mushrooms, these seemingly simple organisms are at the same time creating a planet-wide network that circulates nutrition and information between various lifeforms.

Mushrooms, these seemingly simple organisms are at the same time creating a planet-wide network that circulates nutrition and information between various lifeforms

We collect species from the forest (or emblematic areas) alongside their environmental data.
We have designed a growing space to fully integrate the mushroom life cycle in-situ and bring it closer to the public. With the help of IoT sensors and open source, we can create a dialogue with the mushrooms, to emulate nature’s complex system and conditions rather than an optimised cultivation environment.

We wish to shift the anthropocentric scale to a new origin.

Both engineers and researchers, the pair developed everything from the fungus bed to the incubator.

Fungicha Pop-up event before they joined COUNTER POINT.

3 – 4 December 2023, Fungicha exhibited at the Ogaki Mini Maker Faire, showcasing a tabletop incubator and centrifugal mixing device, while orally sharing the project to visitors.

At the Ogaki Mini Maker Faire, the pair demonstrated how to make cold brew mushroom tea with different dissolution patterns. A seemingly simple wooden board actually hid micro-processors that controlled magnetic mixers that seemed to move on their own, catching the attention of many kids.

In the last legs of November, the group enters Kiyomizu Mountain to search for wild mushrooms with Ueyakato Landscape’s Ota Yusuke as their guide. (Ota also tends to Kiyomizu Mountain, please find his paper on the mountain here.) While getting an introduction to the ecology and issues surrounding the mountain, they discover wild shiitake growing on cypress! 

In December 2022, Fungicha set up an incubator in FabCafe Kyoto, and are currently cultivating the mushrooms they found in Kiyomizu mountain. In about 3 months, they will continue their activities – stay tuned for our next report!

Ueyakato Landscape’s Ota guides the group through Kiyumizu Mountain. Ota is the head gardener at Shosei-en and tends to the mountain which is part of the borrowed scenery designed into Shosei-en. Much of his activity in the mountain centers around regenerating the biodiversity there. Caption Right: Even for a mountain with supposedly low biodiversity, a walk along the hiking course already reveals multiple mushroom species.

A shiitake on a dead cypress log, Kiyomizu Mountain has an abundance of chinquapin trees, and shiitake, which grow on the decaying wood of these trees, also seem to thrive.

Fungicha is part of both the SPCS community, which aims to design new connections to our ecology, and a project under FabCafe Kyoto’s art residency program COUNTER POINT or SPCS.

  • COUNTER POINT|Art Residency Program Sharing Personal Inclinations with Society

    COUNTER POINT is a project-in-residence program run by FabCafe Kyoto. For those who want to create something interesting with their own two hands without relying on an organization, or those who want to create something unrelated to their day jobs, COUNTER POINT provides that in the form of a 3-month space to the curious minded and the creatively driven.

    In FabCafe Kyoto – a renovated 120-year old traditional building located near the Kamo River in Kyoto, where the traveling Kawaramono created the new art of ‘Kabuki’, a challenge to build a new ecosystem from your personal inclinations awaits. 

    >> COUNTER POINT Related Link

    COUNTER POINT is a project-in-residence program run by FabCafe Kyoto. For those who want to create something interesting with their own two hands without relying on an organization, or those who want to create something unrelated to their day jobs, COUNTER POINT provides that in the form of a 3-month space to the curious minded and the creatively driven.

    In FabCafe Kyoto – a renovated 120-year old traditional building located near the Kamo River in Kyoto, where the traveling Kawaramono created the new art of ‘Kabuki’, a challenge to build a new ecosystem from your personal inclinations awaits. 

    >> COUNTER POINT Related Link

  • SPCS|Embodying the uncontrollability of nature, a community exploring new ways of co-creation

    SPCS is a program that explores new ways of co-creation with nature through prototyping. “In what ways can we handle the uncontrollable power of nature and design systems that promote creativity?” Is our guiding question. Each season, we invite lecturers from different fields to carry out practical workshops. Instead of manipulating nature for our human needs, we explore a co-creationary approach. We encourage a speculative output formed by each participant’s curiosity towards biological mechanisms.

    Activity Concepts / Past activities >>

    SPCS|A community exploring biological design

    SPCS is a program that explores new ways of co-creation with nature through prototyping. “In what ways can we handle the uncontrollable power of nature and design systems that promote creativity?” Is our guiding question. Each season, we invite lecturers from different fields to carry out practical workshops. Instead of manipulating nature for our human needs, we explore a co-creationary approach. We encourage a speculative output formed by each participant’s curiosity towards biological mechanisms.

    Activity Concepts / Past activities >>

    SPCS|A community exploring biological design

Author

  • Nami Urano

    Loftwork Inc. / FabCafe Kyoto Marketing Div.

    After graduating from (please insert the name of your University here!) university, Nami began her work at the creative company, Loftwork, where she was in charge of planning and managing business events and community management. At this time, her focus was on encouraging industry and university collaboration, specifically between Japanese companies and international universities. In 2018, Nami moved to Loftwork in Kyoto where she is in charge of PR, marketing, and recruitment. In 2020, Nami was involved in the launch and management of FabCafe Kyoto’s project-in-residency program, COUNTER POINT. From 2022, Nami launched SPCS (“Species”), a community that explores the uncontrollability of nature. Nami is interested in creating chaos in place, taking inspiration from her personal experiences of living in Folkehøjskole, Denmark, experiencing a kibbutz in Israel, and the fermentation club activities she co-hosted with chef Momoyo Morimoto.

    After graduating from (please insert the name of your University here!) university, Nami began her work at the creative company, Loftwork, where she was in charge of planning and managing business events and community management. At this time, her focus was on encouraging industry and university collaboration, specifically between Japanese companies and international universities. In 2018, Nami moved to Loftwork in Kyoto where she is in charge of PR, marketing, and recruitment. In 2020, Nami was involved in the launch and management of FabCafe Kyoto’s project-in-residency program, COUNTER POINT. From 2022, Nami launched SPCS (“Species”), a community that explores the uncontrollability of nature. Nami is interested in creating chaos in place, taking inspiration from her personal experiences of living in Folkehøjskole, Denmark, experiencing a kibbutz in Israel, and the fermentation club activities she co-hosted with chef Momoyo Morimoto.

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