JAPAN NOTEBOOK – KYOTO

Kyoto is on every JAPAN  traveller’s itinerary and for good reason. It’s steeped in mystique and history. A visual feast.

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Market

Market

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Soup making

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Making coffee in the old traditional way

Second hand bookshop

Second hand bookshop

Beautiful handmade paper

Beautiful handmade paper

The narrow lanes of Gion and tiny discreet tea houses where Geisha girls once entertained male customers.  Today it’s full of tourists taking photos of what it used to be. But it’s full of atmosphere. Tiny bars, restaurants and minuscule shops selling exquisite papers and other goods have sprouted up.

 

KATSURA IMPERIAL VILLA

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Built around the same time as Louis IVth was building Versaillles, Katsura Villa couldn’t be more different. The gardens consist of artificial islets of various sizes, bridges made of earth, wood and stone, teahouses with verandas for moon-viewing. Lanterns, and pathways designed to surprise, all rich with natural beauty. The villa itself, the tea houses and gates are simple and artfully tasteful.

THE ROKUON -JI TEMPLE AND THE GOLDEN PAVILION

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Very popular with school trips, the gardens were mobbed but it didn’t detract from the magnificence of the golden pavilion.

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The temple is Zen Buddhist and said to represent the Pure Land of Buddha in this world.

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Statue of Buddha in the garden of The Golden Temple

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The Phoenix

The roof of the magnificent structure is gold foil on lacquer with a shining Phoenix on top.

RYOANJI ROCK GADEN

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One of Kyoto’s most important sites.  A simple and tiny rectangular garden. Only fifteen rocks and white gravel; a truly Zen experience.

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Hard to believe this interior goes back to the 1600’s. So modern in style.

MOSS GARDENS OF SAIHOJI

Avenue of bamboos near the temple

Avenue of bamboos near the temple

The light makes dappled patterns on the moss. - like a luxurious carpet

The light makes dappled patterns on the moss – like a luxurious carpet

The moss gardens of SAIHOJI were the highlight of TheEye‘s visit to KYOTO. The landscaping of the gardens on two different levels with 120 varieties of moss is an almost spiritual experience.

Tending the moss garden

Tending the moss garden

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Utter serenity

Utter serenity

Even the goldfish are happy

Even the goldfish are happy

In order to visit the wonderful gardens, you need to apply well in advance, prepay and get a scheduled time. You are also expected to sit cross legged on a tatami mat listening to the monks chanting, write a Sutra recording your wishes for the future and all this BEFORE you are permitted to see what you really came for: The gardens!

For reasons TheEye will not go into, we fortunately missed the chanting and wish writing and had the gardens to ourselves.   Very fortunate.

DESIGN

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Morikage Shirts. Very stylish, unique shirts with one store only in KYOTO. Great buttons too.

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Kyoto is one of Japan’s best cities for design.

TheEye was introduced to The House Of HOSOO by Italian designer, Luisa Cevese. A family textile business founded in 1688 specialising in the finest quality textiles, originally HOSOO produced woven silks for kimonos. They still do but the demand is no longer there.

Luisa Cevese

Luisa Cevese

The family have taken the company forward focussing on craft of the highest quality working with top global brands and also now collaborate with other craftspeople – furniture, ceramics, woven wire products.

Woven from paper

Woven from paper

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Contemporary textiles

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Threads used for kimono borders woven in the traditional style.

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Shoe for Lady Gaga

Shoe for Lady Gaga

Next stop…..NAOSHIMA  ‘the art island’, by car, trains and slow ferry!

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9 Comments

  1. Love every design detail-even the school uniforms are stylish!
    x

  2. GORGEOUS photos! Inspired, brilliantly researched journey. Feels like I’m travelling in your back pocket!

  3. How exciting, such inspiring photographs, I can’t wait to go too.

  4. Wonderful virtual journey to Kyoto. More please.

  5. Catherine Pawson June 19, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    This will be my bible when we travel to Japan in October

  6. This has only made me more excited about my trip!

  7. A few Morikage white shirts got me out of a laundry fix in Kyoto. Thank you for that and all the other tips Janice. Very special blog.

  8. Where did you stay in Kyoto? Big fan of your blog!

    • Only just seen this. We stayed at the Ritz Carlton on our last visit. There are two famous ryokan’s in Kyoto. (extremely expensive) where we stayed many years ago. Depends if you want a ryokan or not.
      Ritz Carlton is excellent and very good concierge service. Do make sure you organise the Palace visit well ahead and the moss garden. Can do this through the concierge.
      Have a great time.

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