Green and arty Kyoto has been setting the agenda for centuries
The former capital of Japan is a perfect mix of the old and new - wooden machiya houses, zen gardens, young girls in their kimonos contrasted with the sleek modern architecture and futuristic led lights, right next to a shrine in the same block. Welcome to the Japan you have always wanted to see.
Screen Hotel is a 22 room boutique hotel in which each room is designed by different architects from all over Asia.
Pretty bangasa (traditional Japanese umbrella) chandeliers in the lobby/restaurant.
We stayed in a room that embodied pink hues through out the bed room with slick white sofa and a streamlined decor, designed by Pirada & Paradis Senivongse Na Ayudhya,Bangkok.
Views from the Terrace
Screen also rents you bikes which is probably the easiest mode of commute to all the nearby places.
There are about 2000 temples and Shinto shrines and about 17 World Heritage Sites, Kyoto is so geographically rich with three sides of water basins keeping the city green and thick in vegetation. How would you like to walk along a bamboo garden or a forest that leads you to a shrine?
Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku) - The most famous temple in Kyoto and probably Japan. The temple is literally covered in gold! Must be one of the most beautiful man made places on earth.
…temples that are quiet with very few people in it, gives me a sense of calm, a place where you can reflect and think about nothing for a while. And then watching someone else pray is poetic in a way!
Oh look - he wants World Peace before the Giants win!
Traditional Tea Garden in the Temple
Matcha Tea - The bitter tea is balanced with the sweet.
Ryoan-ji Temple - The greatest masterpiece of Japanese culture is the Rock Garden. 15 Rocks and 248 sq.m area, raked white sand.. simple yet a beautiful depiction of nature: ocean, mountains, rivers and the surroundings.
This takes me back to my Architecture school days - I always found a way to add in a zen garden in all my projects.
Kiyomizu-dera Temple has the best view of Kyoto - its a huge complex with many shrines and well, lots of people. The waterfall Otowa-no-taki with three channels of water dropping into a pond is believed to have therapeutic properties, there are metal cups for easy access to drink from the waterfall. It is said to give good health, longevity, and success in studies. I will take one too!
Shimogamo-jinja – one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan.
Newly weds in their wedding garb
Tadasu no Mori forest
Kyoto Manga Museum - This is the shrine of Manga characters - a museum that houses 300k comincs and manga related exhibits. Well, who can resist going to the MANGA museum in the birthplace of Anime.
Lisn Kyoto is an incense shop in Karasuma Dori; various colors of incense sticks are displayed on the glass table and by the walls with a motif of wave shape. Pretty as I call it.
UCHU wagashi Sweet bites in a delicate package.
Sfera - Shop to buy everyday things that are designed meticulously.
You can eat your way all the way back to the Edo period..
Ippodo Tea Room - a 14th century KABOKU Tearoom, get immersed in their Tea-Making Workshops, or simple yet nerve wrecking - be a part of the tea ceremony.
If you have time for only 1 kaiseki meal in Kyoto, go downright traditional at Kichisen. Known to the locals endearingly as’kisen’, this homey restaurant is nestled in a double-storey terrace building in the Shimogamo disctrict, just 10 minutes walk from Shimogamo-jinja – one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan – in the wooded surrounds of Tadasu no Mori forest. The wood-swathed kaiseki restaurant, which boasts 4 tatami rooms and 5 counter seats, won 2 Michelin stars in year 2009
Host waiting for us at the door to take us to ‘our dining room’ which is private for the two of us and the chef.
Sake in Powdered Ice Basket
Small bites of fish and tofu
Chef Yoshimi Tanigawa handing over one of our dishes
Acquiring a deep appreciation of cooking at the age of nine, Yoshimi Tanigawa was convinced that cooking was his mission in life. Later, he came to Kyoto and studied traditional Japanese cultural arts such as ‘tea ceremony,’ ‘flower arrangement,’ ‘incense ceremony,’ ‘calligraphy,’ ‘Japanese poetry,’ etc., in order to polish his sensitivity and acquire inspiration for his profession.
Chef Yoshimi Tanigawa beat Morimoto in the Japanese Iron Chef and he gave us a CD of that episode. Take that, Mr. Morimoto - who has never lost since then!
Each dish was pure. YES PURE is what comes to mind.
Freshest ingredients, natural plating techniques, high art form and delicious, ofcourse.
Dessert - Yuzu fruit cup.
Did You Know? That Kaiseki is the origin of the multiple course dining that high end restaurants serve right now. Yes. another Asian import into the western culture.
Honke Owariya - Try this 540 year old Soba Noodle Restaurant.
Womb is a cafe-style Japanese food restaurant with one long table and Masaki Tokuda designed original chairs with fashionable exposed concrete. People can enjoy the food while watching the miniature landscape garden in front.
I forgot the name of this place but its on the same street as the Screen Hotel.
This was one of the best izakayas I have ever had, each small plate was heaven in your mouth and I wish I can go back one more time to have their Chicken Karaage.
Chicken Karaage - Deep fried chicken niblets
Meat Skewer with a egg yolk ball
Another highly recommended experience is to go to Hiro by the Kamo river.
Mats on the floor with low tables and grills
With a killer view and an amazing breeze
While you are cooking some bad ass meat
Late night Ramen
Ubiquitous - just follow the crowd to a Ramen joint.
I enjoyed every minute of walking around Ponto-cho and entering the little bars that might just have an ex-geisha as the host.
Sent James Club - If you are into Whisky and Jazz, this is the place to go.
A small cozy bar with one bartender who has all the liquor in the giant closet behind him. Quiet Jazzy time.
Mamachicka - You are lucky if this place is open the night you are going.
The host, who used to be a Geisha, is the owner of this bar and her name is Mamachicka. She knows how to make her guests have the best time of the night. And mum is the word~
Gion neighborhood at night
These wooden townhouses are called Machiya houses, traditionally craftsmen stayed here. This area reminded us of the Kyoto we have seen in movies..and wait for a hot second, the scene is about to get surreal — A Geisha or Maiko girl walking out of one of them and walking elegantly across the street and poof.. she vanishes into thin air.
One of them was sweet enough for a photog.
And one of them moved out of the traditional picturesque zone and walked right into 21st century and got into a taxi with this stodgy looking man.
And that’s Kyoto for you. The Japan of your imagination!