Kimono Houses, temples and tea top the list
“If Tokyo is the future, then Kyoto is the past that I want to revel in,” says Jamie Leilani Pelayo, founder of Stories + Objects (storiesandobjects.com), an editorial platform and online boutique that celebrates a global selection of handcrafted objects and the people behind them. “There are few places in the modern world that hold on to tradition the way Japan does, and that is what made this visit to the cultural heart of the country so unforgettable,” says the Malibu-based Pelayo, whose curatorial journeys have taken her from Sri Lanka to Cuba to Morocco.
Here, she shares her Kyoto highlights:
Hasu’s ochaya (teahouse), a stylishly modernized home available through Airbnb (airbnb.com), was once a “joy house” in a former geisha district. I slept on a traditional tatami mat bed and soaked in an ofuro Japanese tub, now inspiration for the design of the master bath in a house my husband Jérôme and I are building in Malibu. For more pampering, visit Hoshinoya Kyoto (hoshinoyakyoto.jp), surrounded by the the natural beauty of Kyoto, and accessible by private river cruise down the Katsura River.
Food here is an art form and a ritual. Experience the tea ceremony at Yuhisai Koudoukan (kodo-kan.com), where the tea master is also a master confectioner. He sketches his confections into a book to commemorate each ceremony, and every tea bowl is selected from an antique trove based on the energy of the guest. Misoka-an Kawamichi-ya (kawamichiya.co.jp) is a 329-year-old soba noodle house. “Misoka” refers to the custom of eating noodles for good luck on the last day of every month.
I came to Kyoto to visit the legendary 462-year-old Chiso (chiso.co.jp) kimono house. Express your personal narrative by designing a bespoke kimono at their atelier, Sohya (sohya.jp). Stop by the Shop & Gallery YDS (takahashitoku.com) for Japanese-style teacups and bowls crafted from rubber and lacquer. Discover a carefully curated selection of brushes, inks and papers at stationery shop Morita Washi (wagami.jp).
Drive to Japan’s first imperial capital city, Nara, to see the ancient Todai-ji temple and mingle with thousands of Japanese deer. The temple houses the largest bronzed Buddha in the world.
Written by JAMIE LEILANI PELAYO.