Kyoto tagged posts

Photo Friday: Trainee Geisha Playing Drinking Games in Kyoto

Trainee geisha or maiko playing drinking games in Kyoto

I took this photo of 17-year-old Tanefume, a trainee geisha playing drinking games with tourists at the Gion Hatanaka Ryokan in Kyoto. The delighted expression on her face contrasts strikingly with her formal attire and shows just how young and ingenuous she is!

The Gion District of Kyoto, with its wooden inns, restaurants and ocha-ya or traditional tea houses is the heart of the geisha quarter.

You might catch a glimpse of a geisha, dressed in an elaborately patterned silk kimono, her face painted in traditional white makeup and hair piled high with delicate decorations, as she slips through a doorway. It is, however, very expensive and next to impossible for foreigners to hire a geisha for an evening’s entertainment of singing, dancing and drinking games.

However the enterprising Gion Hatanaka Ryokan, or traditional inn, offers a traditional Kyoto kaiseki dinner in bento boxes and entertainment with two maiko, or trainee geisha.

It is an entrancing experience where you watch the...

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Hoshinoya Kyoto: classic Japanese inn with a twist

Hoshinoya Kyoto has been built with traditional Japanese craftsmanship

Hoshinoya Kyoto is a unique contemporary ryokan inside a noble’s retreat on the banks of the Ooigawa River in Arashiyama, just outside Kyoto. It offers a rare vision of authentic Japan incorporating a reverence for traditional culture with a whimsical modern sensibility. There are few Japanese high-end inns, indeed few resorts in the world, whose aesthetic appeals both to well-heeled locals and an informed international clientele. Hoshinoya is breaking new ground.

To get to Hoshinoya, I arrive at a dock near the famous moon-viewing Togetsukyo Bridge for the ten-minute trip in a covered boat along the forest-lined river. Tomoko Tsuchima greets me and shows me around the re-imagined interior and exterior spaces of this protected heritage site. Hoshinoya’s designers have utilised centuries-old techniques of Kyoto craftsmen…hand-crafted washi paper, latticework, ceramic roof tiles, sand plastered walls…to create a modern gem embodying the lightness of touch inherent in good Japanese design.

At t...

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Insider’s Guide to Kyoto: The Golden Temple and other Highlights

kyoto mfp-72

Know Before You Go:

When the Vikings were still raiding England, Kyoto became the imperial capital of Japan, at the beginning of the Heian period, and remained so until the court moved to Edo, or Tokyo, in 1868 during the Meiji Restoration.  To cater to the sophisticated tastes of royalty, Kyoto developed a thriving cottage industry of skilled artisans…kimono makers, wood-block artists, potters, lacquer ware craftsmen and fine woodworkers…which still survives, admittedly in a much smaller way, to this day.

Although it has been ravaged by wars, fires and earthquakes, Kyoto’s cultural treasures helped it to be spared from US bombing raids during World War II and as a result it is one of the few Japanese cities with pre-war buildings such as merchant townhouses.  With it 1600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines as well as a bevy of palaces and gardens, it is a must-visit historic destination.

First time visitors are, however, often surprised that Kyoto is also a busy modern city whose key industries include information technology and electronics (Nintendo has its headquarters here), higher education (there are 38 universities), and film and television production. If you take the bullet train you will arrive via the futuristic glass and steel Kyoto train station, one of Japan’s tallest buildings.  While, of course, you must savor Kyoto’s historical treasures, don’t ignore the contemporary city, with its thriving food markets, fusion restaurants and cutting edge design stores, where local craftsmen use their traditional artisanal training to create contemporary pieces.

Compar...

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