Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Experience Kyoto: Arashiyama, Townhouse, Manga & More!  京都を満喫:嵐山、町家、マンガミュージアムなどなど!

In all of my time spent in Kansai, covering more than 7 years, I had never been to Arashiyama in Kyoto until this past weekend.

To kickoff the weekend festivities, I started by renting a bicycle at the Arashiyama Station for 800 yen ($8) valid for one day's use.  After riding around the main street in Arashiyama, I stopped by the red snapper restaurant "Hanana" for lunch with my friends.  Once our hunger had been satisfied, we got back on our bicycles and visited the Nison-in Temple and the Tenryu-ji Temple before arriving back at the main street in Arashiyama to visit the kimono handicraft store, Kurisho.

After seeing all the major sites to see in Arashiyama, we moved on to the next phase of our weekend at the Sanbo Nishinotoin Townhouse, a machiya, which just so happens to be owned by my good friend and kimono atelier owner Shigeyuki Kobayashi.  My past blog about Shige-san, as I call him, can be found here.

As I had stayed at one of Iori's townhouses before (blog can be viewed here), I had an idea of what to expect, however my friend Shige-san's townhouse was spacious beyond belief!  With at least a 5 meter (15 ft.) ceiling and a huge wooden bathtub, the ambience is his townhouse was quite different from the one I experienced in March.  As I have already experienced two Iori townhouse properties (both excellent), I have eight more to visit before completing the entire list.  I am definitely up to the challenge!

The following morning, we got off to an early start by walking only 10 minutes from the townhouse to get to the entrance of Nijo Castle.  Very convenient.  Because of the intense heat even at mid-morning, we briskly walked through the castle and its adjacent grounds before returning to back to the townhouse to check out.

Conveniently located next to the townhouse was the Nishinotoin Tea Shop & Tea House Motoan featuring green tea from Marukyu-Koyamaen Co., Ltd. in Uji City, Kyoto, which has some of the finest green tea in all of Japan.  Not wanting to pass up this opportunity, my friends and I stopped in to have a very traditional Japanese breakfast with green tea before moving on to my friend Shige-san's kimono gallery a few doors down.  

Before calling it a day and heading back to Osaka, we stopped by the Kyoto International Manga Museum to experience Japan's subculture.  At the former site of the Tatsuike Elementary School, the museum opened in November 2006 and currently houses over 300,000 items related to manga with something for every manga enthusiast.  For those wanting to see a different side to Japan, I recommend paying a visit to the museum.

嵐山駅では、1日800円で自転車を借りることができますので、 週末の楽しみのとっかかりとして、 まずは自転車で嵐山を周ることにしました。嵐山のメインストリートを走り、鯛匠HANANAというお店でランチをしました。空腹を満たした後に向かった先は、二尊院天龍寺、そして嵐山のメインストリートへ戻り手描友禅工房久利匠へ行きました。
また、町家の隣にある西洞院店 茶房「元庵」では、品質本位のお茶づくりをすることで有名な宇治の丸久小山園のお茶を楽しむことができます。私と友達は、こんなチャンスを逃すなんてと思い、シゲさんの着物ギャラリーに行く前に立ち寄ることにし、お茶と一緒に伝統的な日本の朝ご飯をいただくことにしました。

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