Old Kyoto

Arriving into Kyoto station you’d be forgiven for thinking that this ancient capital was perhaps not so well preserved. The station building; a towering structure of glass and steel surrounded by neon signs of karaoke bars, shops and the illuminations of the Kyoto Tower, an antenae-like symbol jutting from the city’s skyline.  Don’t get me…

OHara!

If you’ve had enough of the Kyoto cityscape and want to escape to a rural retreat only an hour from Kyoto, Ohara should be high on your list. Only 45 minutes by bus from central Kyoto, Ohara is a tiny town just on the northern limits of the City Famed for a Thousand Temples. There’s…

Hiking Mount Hiei

Many people come to Kyoto and expect an old, traditional city; ancient temples bursting forth from behind tiny, winding streets lined with wooden machiya. To an extent this is true, a city with one of the largest UNESCO World Heritage sites in the entire globe, it’s any Japanophile’s Mecca when it comes to an era-immemorial…

Anniversary Onsen

I love onsen. It’s maybe one of my favourite aspects of Japanese culture. So naturally, for our wedding anniversary this year, I decided to book my husband and I in for some much needed onsen indulgence at Sumiya Kiho-an, a dreamy ryokan in the mountains to the west of Kyoto. We headed to Sumiya, first…

Top Scotch Cocktails

If you’ve ever visited Japan, you’ll know that the Japanese have a serious love for Scotch whisky, you just have to step inside the Scotch Malt Whisky bars in Tokyo and Kyoto to understand how deep that love affair runs.  Scotch sailed into Japan in 1853 on the back of a U.S navy ship, where…

Kaiseki and Cocktails

One night about a month ago, Mr. GIJ came home and asked if I’d like to go to a cocktail event. “Of course!” I mean, do you really have to ask?? No more details were given other than that the event in question was a cocktail party for the opening of a new bar. We…

Sakura Season is Upon Us! 

It’s that time of the year again. The sun has got her hat on, the tourists have descended and those elusive little petals have begun to bloom in Kyoto. I love sakura season. There’s a subtle pink glow that makes everything feel that little bit warmer and more magical. I mean, it is seriously beautiful…

My First Ikebana Experience

Since moving to Japan I’ve been fascinated by everything. I mean everything. The food, the history, the culture, the language… you name it and I’ve mused upon it. In particular, there’s a concept here in Japan known as wabi sabi; the belief that the beauty of something is found in its imperfections and transcience. The…

Hiroshima; So Much More Than History

Last September a very good friend of mine came to visit me in Japan. We spent our time exploring together and our travels took us on a journey to Hiroshima and the beautiful Hiroshima Bay (our adventures in Miyajima I’ve already written about here). I’m sure that everyone is familiar with the name Hiroshima and…

Springtime Sakura Recipes

This weekend in Kyoto, the sun was shining and the first ume blossom had started to poke their way through a few fat buds at the end of some rather wintery-looking branches. The little pops of pink got me thinking about sakura season and how it’s observed in Japan.  I’ve mentioned before the significance that…

Oh My, Umeshu! 

February in Japan is a wonderful time. Although I have to admit that it is still pretty cold, there are glimmers of spring and the blossoming of Japanese plum – ume.  Lovely Ume is a delicious and hugely popular fruit in Japan. It’s used in everything – it’s the pinky paste with the tasty tang that you’ll…

Hiking in Higashiyama 

Where the city meets the mountains is my favourite place in Kyoto. Beautiful scenery, traditional buildings and some of the best shrines and temples in town. When I think of Kyoto, I definitely think of a city, but being surrounded by mountains, you’ll be surprised to hear that there are some great hikes to be…