Day trip to Kyoto

September 26th, 2011


We stayed the night in Kanazawa, and the next day we caught a 3 hour train to Kyoto. We checked in to the Kyoto Hayatt Regency, one of the most beautiful hotels we’ve ever stayed at. It was designed by Takashi Sugimoto and it’s stunning lobby is filled with back lit pattered mill paneling. The Japanese restaurant in the basement is furnished with George Nakashima style shaker furniture and the food is spectacular, you just want to sit at the bar and watch the sushi chef work away sipping some Japanese whiskey.


We decided to hit the back streets during our day in Kyoto, but we underestimated how hot it would be in September. It was unbelievably hot, and we didn’t really have a grasp on how far all of the places we wanted to visit were from each other.



I always see beautiful cars in Japan, I’ve always admired these old Fiats.


One of the shops I really wanted to visit was only a couple blocks away from our hotel. It’s a mom and pop shop that carries an amazing collection of hand hammered kitchenware.


Most of the pieces are hand hammered aluminum, but you can find lots of beautiful copper and brass products as well.


A fantastic collection of brass ladles, it’s a shame because I don’t think you can actually sell brass kitchen products in Canada anymore.


The cane wrapped handles paired with the copper was just beautiful.


I guess every country has their own version of the crazy pigeon lady.



We spent most of the day walking the back streets of Kyoto and passed so many beautiful courtyards.


A cute little French cafe, we’d love to stop in but we’re on a mission!



The must see place for us was the Sfera gallery, which was designed by one of our favorite architect firms Claesson Koivisto Rune.


The facade is made of die cut metal cladding with repetitive organic patterns. The building itself is on another level, there is a gallery space, a store, and a bar / cafe in the basement. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take any photos inside so you’ll have to check out CKR’s website for some images of the interior.


We headed downstairs to the cafe and had some much needed ice coffee.


The cafe backs onto an alley and we had the whole building to ourselves so we took our time and enjoyed the nice breeze.


We were allowed to take some photos of the basement, so here you go.


We needed to have some food so we headed out to Efish, a cafe that was recommended to us by a reader.


There was a beautiful view of the river and they had a special pineapple beer on offer that I really enjoyed. We just has some sandwiches which were nothing really special, the big feature here was the nice vibe and the view.


Just next door was a legitimate char cedar temple, it really put our charred cedar store facade to shame. It had the texture of reptile skin and the burns were through.


We had some amazing luck during our trip because it turns out our friend Liza from Frederica was in Japan at the same time as us. There’s nothing better than visiting with friends when you’re in another country and we decided to meet at our hotel for a drink before heading out for dinner.

Liza snagged a reservation at a highly local recommended restaurant which promises a quiet meal on the river. The only problem was navigating through the winding back streets to actually find the restaurant. We were in very good hands because Liza used to live in Osaka and can speak Japanese fluently, she even has all of the gestures down pat, it’s amazing to watch her interact with locals.


We entered a beautiful and narrow restaurant and walked through to a back patio.


It was a beautiful evening, the temperature had cooled down, the sky was clear, and stars started dotted the skyline. The only problem was someone across the river murdering a saxophone.

This might have been his/her second time playing the saxophone, they were struggling through scales for hours and the peak effort was a failed attempt at Somewhere Over the Rainbow. The good thing was the sake was flowing and we all had a great sense of humor about it and just allowed the performer to entertain us.


There were too many plates to photograph, I swear there was 15 courses, we lost count after 10, and we were full after 5. It was epic, but in the best way possible.


Did you know you aren’t supposed to pour yourself sake? You’re supposed to serve others and let someone else serve you. I was wondering why Liza kept pushing sake on me!


The most interesting dish of the night was this little river fish. Apparently the fish is too sensitive to be hook fished, so they use cormorants (a river bird) to catch the fish. It was grilled and had an interesting texture to it, almost grainy. We definitely won’t forget this meal, thanks again Liza!


Filed under: Travel | 11 comments

11 Responses to 'Day trip to Kyoto'

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  1. Oh sweet Kyoto! Your photos bring back so many wonderful memories of my two-year stay in that magical place. Magical in every way…except maybe the heat. I remember it lasted well into October!


    27 Sep 11 at 12:46 am

  2. kyoto is so beautiful, it is my future dream destination. all these small little shops, selling beautiful handicrafts. simple and clean, just like your shop. love your bag.


    27 Sep 11 at 2:47 am

  3. Awwww, I am ear to ear grinning at your nice comments. Dinner with you guys was a welcome diversion from a very busy week, and it is always wonderful to spend time with you two (Thomas G and I are looking so forward to Toronto soon!). Honk honk saxamphone…


    29 Sep 11 at 3:13 pm

  4. As always your blog is truly inspiring. I remember those hot summer evenings in Kyoto so well. Have you seen any elegant japanese dividing screens? I’m thinking of going back to Japan to get one for a future flat.


    1 Oct 11 at 3:20 am

  5. Who makes that backpack? its beautiful!


    2 Oct 11 at 3:26 pm

  6. I hate to say that my only question in response to this post, other than “what a fabulous time you’re having!” is, “John, where did you get that bag?” Any chance that you’ll give that info away?


    4 Oct 11 at 4:28 pm

  7. I have always dreamed of seeing Japan, and these posts are only reinvigorating that dream. The pictures are gorgeous, and your experience sounds heavenly.


    4 Oct 11 at 10:05 pm

  8. Gorgeous! Definitely makes me want to take another visit to Japan.

    John’s shirt and back are great! Could you tell us who makes em?


    5 Oct 11 at 12:11 am

  9. Would you mind telling me what knapsack John is wearing? I’m trying to find something for my husband that isn’t your typical juvenile variety. Thanks!


    5 Oct 11 at 9:01 am

  10. Alright alright, I don’t want to spoil the fun, but I’ll give up the goods on the bag. That bag is actually a prototype of a new travel bag we are working with Sarra Tang from Hoi Boi to make and sell through the store. Sarra is actually going to produce all of the bags herself, so they’re going to be really special.

    We’ll have another post up soon about the bag with all the details, but the launch party is going to be October 21st. The bag itself can be worn as a backpack, shoulder bag, or brief case, which makes it perfect for either male or female. The purpose of the collaboration was to make the perfect travel bag, and I really think we accomplished it!

    John & Juli

    5 Oct 11 at 7:17 pm

  11. Very exciting! Can’t wait for it to hit the shelves!


    6 Oct 11 at 8:14 pm

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