a blog about seeing the world

Rewind: Revisiting Kyoto

February, 2011…

After the long days of skiing in Japan’s unbeatable powder and the electronic madness of Tokyo, Kyoto was a serene and amazingly gorgeous dose of culture.

We stayed at Yonbanchi, an old samurai house turned bed and breakfast by a French expatriate named Divyam and his Japanese wife. Arriving with no itinerary, it only took one cup of tea for Divyam to plan out our three-day stay to the hour. While we secretly deviated at times— and felt slightly guilty doing so— his recommendations were worth the stay on their own. We rode one-speed bikes down narrow stone streets, wandered past thousands of mossy stone lanterns in Nara, and spotted maiko dashing out of tea houses in Gion.

Returning each night to Yonbanchi was infinitely more enjoyable than staying at a downtown backpacker’s hostel and it completed an immersion into old Japan.

The common room at Yonbanchi. The rooms were cool at all hours due to the lack of central heating in the centuries-old house, but electric blankets on the beds provided a nightly anesthetic.

By far our favorite part of the city was the temple gardens. We often breezed through the temples themselves, but lingered in the perfectly balanced and manicured green spaces. Arrestingly beautiful in gray light of winter, we could only imagine how perfect they must be in summer.

Kyoto lingers in the imagination long after you leave, and it is one place we would no doubt return to.

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9 responses

  1. Erika

    Interesting that you should repost this and that I checked this out. I am currently making arrangements to return to Japan this Jan/Feb for some more skiing. Kyoto is one of the places on my list to go, even though there won’t be any skiing. I’ve heard so much good stuff about it. The pictures make me want to return to Japan all the more.

    I look forward to hearing about the skiiing in NZ. I hope all is well and you are getting deep snow, long runs and cold beers!

    Erika in Juneau AK

    September 5, 2011 at 12:41 am

    • Erika, if you are coming to Hokkaido, be sure to look me up. I live near the base of Asahidake and spent a fun day skiing there with these two cats on their trip here.

      September 5, 2011 at 12:45 am

    • Hi Erika! We are very jealous that you’re going back! Only four more days of work and then we’ll be on skis.

      Highly recommend a trip down to Kyoto, its a quick train ride and so worth it. Look up Yonbanchi if you go!

      Nate and Steph

      September 8, 2011 at 5:11 am

  2. Nate & Steph, Thank you so much for pushing the rewind button and posting this. Kyoto is the one place on Honshu that I love to visit as often as possible. It’s beauty is unmatched and your post makes me yearn for my next visit already. Domo arigato!

    September 5, 2011 at 12:47 am

    • Thanks Toby! We loved it, it’s incredibly beautiful. We’d love to go back there –and Hokkaido– in the summer sometime!

      September 8, 2011 at 5:08 am

  3. Hilary

    I want to decorate my house (when I have one) with the last several photos on this post. The are awesome, but what I really want, even more than that, is to be there and experience it myself because, naturally that would be even more awesome. Hope you are well. Miss you!

    September 5, 2011 at 4:12 am

  4. Jesse Littlefield

    Amazing pictures! I think I would love it there! Beautiful! Miss you 2 so much!

    September 6, 2011 at 12:01 am

  5. Anonymous

    Enjoyed the latest video and pics immensely. Have been missing hearing about your trip…you two are thought of often even if I’m not staying in touch well. All well here in NC! Love you…XO

    September 15, 2011 at 10:27 pm

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