Kyoto

Udon Museums set to bring oodles of noodles to Tokyo and Osaka this year

Udon Museums set to bring oodles of noodles to Tokyo and Osaka this year

Compared to ramen, udon has a decidedly low-key image. Ramen is actually a comparative newcomer to the Japanese dining scene, and so it’s generally the more likely candidate for crazy experimentation. Udon, on the other hand, is simpler, and in its most basic form, the thick white flour noodles, floating in a basic salty broth, can seem almost austere by comparison.

At least, that’s the impression eating udon only in train station noodle joints and school cafeterias would leave you with. The truth is, in the several centuries Japan has been eating udon, it’s come up with dozens of different takes on the dish, and later this year, you’ll be able to sample dozens all in the same place, with the opening of two Udon Museums in Tokyo and Osaka.

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Kyoto man arrested after calling victim to apologize for assault

Kyoto man arrested after calling victim to apologize for assault

On 4 June at around 11pm bridal store employee, Eisuke Himoto, allegedly approached a 30-year-old woman on her way home from her part-time job. According to police, he called out to her asking, “Why don’t we get a drink?” to which the woman tried to run away.

Most men at this point would consider attempted escape as a sign that a woman is not into them. Himoto, on the other hand, allegedly felt this had become the perfect opportunity to begin hugging and kissing the woman from behind.

Luckily, Himoto’s same utter lack of judgment would eventually lead to his speedy arrest shortly after.

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Whiskey shaved ice: A frozen treat for adults in Kyoto

Whiskey shaved ice: A frozen treat for adults in Kyoto

One of the most popular ways to cool yourself off during a muggy Japanese summer is with a bowl of shaved ice, known as kakigoori. However, not everyone has the sweet tooth or enduring connection to their inner child that’s necessary to enjoy the brightly colored, syrupy sweet frozen treat that’s usually flavored like strawberry, melon, or lemon.

Thankfully, if you’re looking for a chilled dessert that’s a little more adult, a restaurant in Kyoto has just the thing: shaved ice with whiskey.

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Get your chills on the rails with Kyoto’s Ghost Train 【Video】

Get your chills on the rails with Kyoto’s Ghost Train 【Video】

Fear is commonly held to be a cold sensation, which is how we ended up with English phrases like “bone-chilling” and “a chill ran down his spine.” Those idioms may not translate directly into Japanese, but Japan has also traditionally thought of feeling cold as part of being scared.

Figuring that when life hands you horror lemons, you make horror lemonade, long ago Japanese society decided to use this to its advantage, which is why in Japan summer isn’t just the season of lightweight kimonos and all-you-can-drink beer gardens, but the time for ghost stories, too.

But in this modern age, maybe you’re too busy to sit around candlelit rooms in old manor houses swapping creepy tales with your friends. So if you’ve got an active lifestyle and need to keep moving while you get your terror on, a ride on Kyoto’s ghost train might be in order.

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Five amazing Japanese Starbucks locations that let you keep sightseeing as you take a break

Five amazing Japanese Starbucks locations that let you keep sightseeing as you take a break

Unless you’ve got the deep pockets to take taxis everywhere or the ample patience necessary for a bus tour, sightseeing in Japan means a lot of walking. As exciting and fascinating as the country can be, hour after hour on your feet is enough to leave anyone looking for a place to sit down and have a drink, which is part of the reasons why you can always find a Starbucks near Japan’s major travel destinations.

Still, vacation only lasts so long, and many tourists don’t want to waste their time in a new city sitting in a boring old coffee house that looks just like the one in their hometown. Thankfully, the world’s most popular coffee house has gone all out with the design of these five Japanese Starbucks locations, making them sightseeing attractions in and of themselves.

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Crepe made with Kyoto sweets and green tea is the perfect treat after a day of temple hopping

Crepe made with Kyoto sweets and green tea is the perfect treat after a day of temple hopping

With its quiet gardens and tranquil temples, you might think that Kyoto is strictly the domain of serious ascetics. Japan’s former capital is a city with well over a million residents, and attracts visitors from all over the world. With so many people milling about, there are plenty of people looking for a little indulgence, and while for some that means a stiff drink served by a monk, others are looking to satisfy their sweet tooth.

Japan has a long-standing love affair with crepes, and during our recent visit to Kyoto we found a uniquely tantalizing version of the rolled pastry that incorporates both green tea powder and Kyoto’s most famous traditional Japanese sweet, yatsuhashi.

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Natural sounds: Stunning Kyoto-made speakers are made from 30-year-old Japanese cedar

Natural sounds: Stunning Kyoto-made speakers are made from 30-year-old Japanese cedar

If you’re the kind of person who appreciates traditional craftsmanship and doesn’t mind paying a little more to get it, we have a product for you today that you really have to see.

On sale from tomorrow, these stunning mini speakers are made by master craftsmen in Kyoto and use specially grown Japanese cedar, taking an incredible 30 years to go from planting to finished product.

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We visit Kyoto’s monk bar for some spiritual spirits

We visit Kyoto’s monk bar for some spiritual spirits

Many visitors to Kyoto find themselves overcome with a sense of tranquility. Even for people who aren’t Buddhists themselves, there’s just something soothing about being around so many temples and their stoic monks.

You know what else a lot of people find relaxing? A nice cold beer! So when we recently found ourselves in Japan’s former capital and looking for a calming presence, we decided to make it a double by going to a bar run by a genuine monk.

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The tricky game of wits that sometimes lurks behind a Kyoto granny’s compliment

The tricky game of wits that sometimes lurks behind a Kyoto granny’s compliment

One of the most characteristic parts of communication in Japan is the frequency with which people dish out compliments. Travelers and expats, for example, quickly become accustomed to being praised when displaying even the most basic skills with chopsticks or the local language.

Japanese people don’t just have kind words for foreigners, though, but for each other, too. Modesty and empathy are considered virtues of the highest order, so when someone shows any sort of ability, good manners dictate that you should notice and appreciate whatever small trace of talent can be found, as well as the effort that went into acquiring it while leading what, courtesy says you should assume, is a busy life.

Of course, sometimes these compliments aren’t triggered by the speaker being genuinely impressed, but rather just polite, or in some extreme cases, irritated.

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Need a change of scenery? 3 Japanese cities now rank in list of world’s most livable cities

Need a change of scenery? 3 Japanese cities now rank in list of world’s most livable cities

Everything has been coming up Tokyo lately. Recently ranked no. 1 on a Trip Advisor survey, Japan’s capital city has now come in at No. 2 on Monocle’s list of most livable cities for 2014. That’s two positions up from their ranking last year!

Cities across the world were ranked based on criteria such as economics, society, functionality, as well as ease of everyday living and happiness of people. But it’s not just Tokyo that’s feeling the love recently – two more Japanese cities made it onto the list of great places to live!

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15 beautiful Japanese sweets to cool you down this summer

15 beautiful Japanese sweets to cool you down this summer

Japanese summers are hard to bear. With high humidity levels, the energy-sapping heat has such an overwhelming effect on the body there’s even a word for summer lethargy in the Japanese lexicon: natsubate.

Luckily for us, Japan has developed a number of unique ways to fight the summer heat. One of the best ways to cool down is in the sensory pleasure of traditional Japanese sweets featuring watery wonderlands, night skies and gorgeous hues of blue. We’ve found 15 of the best summer sweets that are so amazing they’re more like edible works of art.

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Study kanji while taking a whirlwind tour of Kyoto with this beautiful video and GIFs!

Study kanji while taking a whirlwind tour of Kyoto with this beautiful video and GIFs!

We recently brought to you a collection of GIFs inspired by the thrilling city of Tokyo, designed by artists from around the globe. Now it’s Kyōto’s turn! A company called COG has created a highly stylized, four-minute animated film by dynamically fusing the original imperial city with kanji characters, and some scenes are now available as GIFs.

So get ready to hop aboard the city’s famous electric trolley and zoom though quintessential Kyōto sights like the Sagano Bamboo Forest and Daimonji bonfire. Along with two other GIFs making waves online, you’ll find yourself immersed in Japanese motifs that are anything but quotidian, and if you’re learning the language, see if you can name all 18 of the kanji characters used!

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Take a look at Japan from a whole new angle — from the air! 【Video】

Take a look at Japan from a whole new angle — from the air! 【Video】

Now, chances are you’ve already seen many pictures and video footage from Japan, especially of tourist areas in cities like Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. But this video, shared about a month ago on Vimeo, offers a look at these cities from a very unique perspective — from up in the air! The video, filmed by a tourist visiting Japan, was taken from the perspective of a remote-controlled drone attached with a camera. And while some of the shots captured are of well-known tourist spots, Internet users both inside and outside of Japan seem to have been impressed by how the unique angle gives the familiar scenes quite a new feel! Let’s see what some of the popular sites of Japan look like from up above.

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Surreal samurai art exhibition mixes the historical with the bizarre

Surreal samurai art exhibition mixes the historical with the bizarre

The Asahi Beer Oyamazaki Villa Museum of Art is located in Yamazaki, a place of historical significance in Japan since medieval times when it served as a field of battle for Toyotomi Hideyoshi to avenge the betrayal and murder of his lord Oda Nobuaga. The museum is currently hosting an exhibition that pays homage to the samurai of those ancient times, in a very modern and surreal fashion.

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Special subway cars in Kyoto are perfect for travelling anime fans

Special subway cars in Kyoto are perfect for travelling anime fans

Kyoto is best known as a bastion of Japan’s traditional past, where the visual and performing arts developed during the feudal era still command the highest respect. Japan’s former capital is also making a bid to become a center for modern popular culture as well, though. 2006 saw the opening of the Kyoto International Manga Museum, and the city also plays host to the annual Kyoto International Manga Anime Fair.

Kyoto’s love for anime is truly a two-way street, as the city serves as the setting for numerous animated series. Apparently the relationship between anime and Kyoto has progressed to a point where the two feel comfortable with an overt display of public affection, in the form of a special subway train plastered with anime graphics.

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【TBT】Kyoto noodle house serves one big, long noodle

【TBT】Kyoto noodle house serves one big, long noodle

Udon is one of Japan’s most well-loved noodles dishes, ranking in line with soba and ramen. Everyone has an opinion over which is the tastiest, but those who like a bit of girth in their noodles will probably go for udon, which are traditionally rolled thicker than other Japanese noodles.

If you really want something to chew on, Tawaraya, an established noodle house in Kyoto, makes udon noodles so thick that only one fits inside the bowl.

Our resident foodie, Kuzo, recently took a train out to the ancient capital to try Tawaraya’s udon for himself. Check out his report below!

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10 of the best gift shops in Kyoto

10 of the best gift shops in Kyoto

There are thousands of interesting shops selling traditional goods in Kyoto. But now there are a few that are standing head and shoulders above the rest, offering unique goods that even Japanese customers can’t wait to get their hands on. By combining traditional techniques with modern, contemporary designs, these businesses represent the best of the changing face of Kyoto, a vibrant city in the traditional capital.

In this article, we take a look at ten unique stores and their adorable products. The only trouble will be deciding what to buy!

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Photographer captures the beauty of traditional Japanese gardens at the Katsura Imperial Villa 【Photos】

Photographer captures the beauty of traditional Japanese gardens at the Katsura Imperial Villa 【Photos】

When it comes to traditional Japanese landscaping and architecture, the Katsura Imperial Villa (aka Katsura Rikyu) is often referred to as a paramount example of Japanese sophistication and refinement. Located in Kyoto, a city famous for its temples, shrines, and gardens, the unquestionable majesty of the Katsura Imperial Villa manages to wow not only the proud people of Japan but architects and aficionados from across the globe.

One might assume that beauty of this sort can only be appreciated in person, but in 2010 Yasuhiro Ishimoto, a well-recognized photographer and “Man of Cultural Distinction” as designated by the Japanese government, released a photo book which somehow captures both the beauty and the spirit of the space. You’ve got to see to believe the masterpiece that this man captured on film.

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Typhoon Man-yi leaves much of Kyoto below water

Typhoon Man-yi leaves much of Kyoto below water

Typhoon Man-yi has been causing havoc across mainland Japan today, sweeping the length of the country and dumping torrential rains the like of which few have ever seen. Thousands of people in Western Japan have been forced to evacuate their homes, and as we can see in the following photographs, whole areas of Japan’s ancient capital city, Kyoto, have been left submerged after rivers burst their banks.

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12 of the best places in Kyoto to enjoy the autumn colors

12 of the best places in Kyoto to enjoy the autumn colors

September has finally arrived, bringing with it…well, not cooler temperatures, but promises of cooler temperatures. Maybe. Sometime soon, we’re sure it’ll cool down and we’ll all stop going from dry to drenched in sweat two seconds after stepping outside.

September also, obviously, means the approach of autumn–that glorious time of year when all the leaves explode into yellow and red hues. Though many think of sakura blossoms when they think of Japan’s beautiful trees, the country is no less proud of its fall colors. And Kyoto boasts more than a few excellent destinations for autumnal sightseeing. Here are 12 of Kyoto’s best places to enjoy the fall leaves!

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