Rewind: Revisiting Kyoto
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.