Japan offers a vast array of experiences. Sublime elegance and understatement are created by a country which seems to be on a joint mission to pursue perfection in even the tiniest of details. It is unique mix of traditions and exhilarating modernism which never fails to fascinate me. In Japan both past and future co-exist and it is this mix which represents Japan’s unique charm. It goes without saying that Japan is also a must visit for every true foodie to experience mouth-watering fresh food aesthetically displayed coupled with innovative cocktails offering intriguing taste compositions. You have come to food paradise!
This was my third time visiting Japan I spent an unforgettable time in Kyoto and Tokyo.
Kyoto is only a two and a half hour train ride from Tokyo however the two cities couldn’t be further apart. With its serene temples and gardens, Kyoto is the epitome of Japanese tradition. No other city in Japan represents this ancient culture more authentically. The city offers a vast number of temples and will leave you spoilt for choice. Wandering through the tiny alleys and shops instantly puts visitors back a hundred years. Make sure you carve out a few days to experience this fascinating city.
What to do:
The golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji) is one of the most beautiful temples in Japan. The Zen Temple’s floors are completely covered in gold leaf and set in a serene garden. Locals say that the temple is best to be visted on a rainy day, providing it with a particularly mystic ambiance. La bonne Vivante was in luck, it was indeed raining when we visited.The Pure Water (Kiyomizudera) is another famous temple in Kyoto. It was founded in 780 on the site of the Otowa Waterfall and was added to the list of UNESCO World heritages in 1994.
Whilst in Kyoto La bonne Vivante decided to attend a traditional tea ceremony. Camellia, the tea house of our choice is located in a former Geisha residence and the original layout has been retained. The tea ceremony as such was intriguing and followed the traditional routine of tool cleaning, preparing the matcha and serving the tea whilst accurately placing the rim. Who ever thought that having a cuppa could be so complicated!https://www.tea-kyoto.com/
La Bonne Vivante loved the end result and bought her very own Matcha tea set on the return flight back home.
Buy a Kimono
There is literally no better place to buy a Kimono than in Kyoto, the city of Geishas. Venture through Kyoto’s shopping district and you will find a few specialized stores offering handmade Kimonos.
I found a beautiful cream coloured kimono patched with gold in one of these tiny stores in Kyoto’s main shopping area.
Where to stay:
This is an easy one. When it comes to places to stay there really only is one option: a traditional Ryokan. For a truly unforgettable experience choose Tawaraya which is famed to be Japan’s most beautiful Ryokan. Booking a room is an adventure already. The Tawaraya has no email address and reservations are only accepted via fax!
Frequented by the likes of Hitchcock, Jean Paul Sartre and Steve Jobs the Tawaraya has become a true institution. Whilst not particularly noticeable from the outside, this gem reveals its beauty in the small details. The service is impeccable, its design is authentically minimalistic and the traditional Kaseiki food served by a personal waitress is a lifetime experience. Make sure you visit the adorable library which features Japanese art books and is so tiny that it reminded me of a dollhouse. Take a bath in the coffin like wooded tub, then get dressed in your Kimono, enjoy a 7 course Kaseiki dinner served in your very own suite and decelerate in your private garden. The Tawaraya isn’t cheap (be prepared to pay 1’200 Euros for one night including dinner for two) however well worth this lifetime experience. For reservations call: +81 75-211-5566