File under: yikes


A few highlights:

Endless crowds, unknown neighbors and unruly behavior have drained many residents here of their sense of “omotenashi” (hospitality).

They now say that the hordes of overseas tourists who keep coming to the ancient capital are eroding the quality of their traditional lives.

In 2003, when only 5 million foreign tourists visited Japan, the government initiated the Visit Japan Campaign to double the number.

The number of visitors to Japan topped 20 million in 2016, and a monthly record 2.57 million foreign tourists came to the country in April.

If things go as the government plans, the foreign tourist number will reach 40 million by 2020 and 60 million by 2030.

Yikes. Read the entire thing here

*Side note: I rarely go to Kyoto anymore and when I do, I go with those who know the ins-and-outs. People who have been traveling there for centuries and have family relationships with businesses and restaurants. As warm and hospitable as Kyoto may seem on the surface, Kyoto people are known to be cold and unwelcoming.

Hot Pot for Tofu


I am seriously obsessed with this hot pot made just to make warm tofu (yudōfu in Japanese). There’s a little copper section to put hot coals (binchoōtan) to keep the water simmering.


This one is made from hinoki wood — hinoki, if you don’t know, smells soooooooooooooo good.

$300 a pop.

Yudōfu by the way, is a Kyoto specialty. Kyoto is known for the amazing tofu. The broth is just water + konbu. Maybe a drop of soy sauce. Kyoto tofu is so rich, the only thing it really needs is the garnishes. If you’re ever in Kyoto, do please find time to try.

Here are five places that serve only yudōfu:



Arashiyama, Kyoto and a Tofu Kaiseki

A ten minute train ride from the Kyoto station transports you to a magical area of Kyoto called Arashiyama. My heart never fails to start pounding during the ride in when the scenary opens up revealing the rolling mountains of the Kyoto countryside. (Make sure to sit on the right side of the train. There is only one train to and from Arashiyama.)

Spring and autumn are the best times to visit Kyoto. The landscape is unbelievable, especially when Kyoto’s greenry looks like it is on fire from the bright orange, red and yellow leaves during fall’s foliage. Or in the spring time when the delicate cherry blossoms fill the city and countryside with the sweetest shade of pink amongst the vibrant green of the newly sprouted leaves. Kyoto is out of control stunning.

Winter is a bit of bummer for all nature. The trees are bare and seem almost cold. But not Arashiyama.

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Gion, Kyoto


In which I experienced a full blown transformation.

I am in the Gion district of Kyoto, famous for their ryoteis exclusive Japanese haute-cuisine restaurants and an area where geishas and maikos geishas in training still work and reside.

I stumbled onto one of the many studios extremely popular with tourists where you can experience becoming a maiko.

The one I found, offered a maiko and oiran transformations. Oiran were the original ‘geisha’s — who back in the those days were high, high-end prostitutes… they were more entertainers though, skilled in arts, music, conversation, etc. Of the tens of studios in the area, this one was filled with Japanese and locals (I can tell by their accent) and no foreigners. Couldn’t resist — ended up killing most of my first day in Kyoto here.

It was fun – highly recommended!

My photographer was out of control amazing — we were having so much fun during the shoot, he even threw in a few extra photos (one of them is the one untouched and I look super shiny haha).

Part of the reason my photographs came out so incredible was because the photog gave precise instructions (in Japanese). We also had amazing rapport so I let him pose me any way he wished. I’m afraid if you don’t speak Japanese, you may have a different experience than me…

This is where I went: