A 500 year old soba restaurant, enough sake to floor a sumo wrestler, very non-zen zen gardens and being picked up by girls in bars – My Kyoto trip

Stork in a tree in Kyoto, Kyoto, Japan Nov 2009

Last weekend, after 3 years in Japan, I finally succumbed and visited Kyoto, the Japan of guidebooks and western imaginations.
Well, if a dear friend and his girlfriend invite you to stay at a 500 year old soba restaurant that supplies soba to the emperor of Japan and another dear friend will also be staying there on his birthday weekend, what else can you do?

When I arrived late on friday night, writer, Sean Miles Lotman (see my portrait of him HERE) his lovely and insanely talented photographer girlfriend Ariko Inaoka and the legendary Mr. Manny Santiago (see my portrait of him HERE) were already well on the way to sake soaked bliss.

Things could only get better as a classic 90’s hit used to say.

I’d heard about Honke Owariya from Ariko and Sean but nothing prepared me for the place, like something out of a collective unconcious vision of old Japan, majestic and understated all at once.
Mr Santiago has described the place and the food way better than I could ever do over on his ‘Eat me drink me’ blog : HERE, so I won’t even try……..
I’ll just drop this photo of the front of the restaurant in here, and move along.


Actually, there isn’t a great deal I want to say about the following 4 days that isn’t said better by some pictures, save for this, there are moments, in warm rooms with a full stomach and a glass of something good in my hand, surrounded by people who I feel completely relaxed and myself with, that I feel glad to be alive. Happy in a special way that I feel less and less as my cynicism picks at the meatless carcass of my ability to experience anything without a certain melancholy.
Those Kyoto days gave me many of those ‘glad to be alive’ moments and I salute the truely lovely people who made that possible.

So, firstly, ‘Yokoso Kyoto!’


Ok, this is better, I’m sure we could all use a little worldwide beaver from time to time ;-)


Wow, there are so many beautiful women , they have to remind the traffic to stop.


There’s always someone who takes it too far, isn’t there? you can’t leave this kind of thing lying around on the floor in a busy shopping street…..oh, wait, my bad…..you can if you black out the ‘offensive’ part.


Mask it?? even more? I’d have said it was pretty damn well hidden already……..


On to Kyoto’s famous temples, and the platform at Kiomizudera famous because people like to jump off it to try and kill themselves……..



At least this cute couple seem to be enjoying themselves, well who wouldn’t if their boyfriend was dressed like this (yes, the one on the left is a man)

Someone should call the police, but it looks like they are already busy with some child abduction, practically a national sport.


Maybe ninja dog can help instead……..


Its all too much, I need to enjoy the peaceful tranquility of the zen garden at Ryoanji


Ok that wasn’t too relaxing, lets try the gardens of Ginkakuji, because the actual temple itself is being repaired.


Finally! this is what I came to Kyoto for, a real life prostitute, opps I mean geisha.


Until at last, the rain comes and washes my cynicism away


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