Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Museum of Traditional Crafts’

Why I have not been doing this all along is a mystery, but I think it’s about time I start porting over some of my blog posts from my personal private blog to here. While I generally try to keep Chaari about art, history, and such, and to avoid talking about my own personal stuff (friends, classes, etc.), as long as I’m in Kyoto, there are plenty of exploration adventures which sort of straddle that line and belong here just as much (especially since I feed on comments and feedback and knowing I’m being read and loved).

So, to start off, a nice café I discovered a week or so ago (Sunday 6/27 to be exact).

Every now and then, one has a day in the city that feels like it could quite match one of those suggested days in the guidebooks. First, go here, then have lunch here, then take a relaxing walk here, and finish up with this and this. That sort of day. Beautiful, relaxing, fun, and just plain wonderful.

Suffice it to say we had a very nice day. Woke up in the morning and noted that it was sunny and not raining outside! Wooo. After getting some homework done and otherwise recovering from last night’s escapades, I ran into one of my housemates and we quickly decided to head out to catch maiko dances at the Museum of Traditional Crafts.

The museum was gorgeous – very sleek, clean, modern, brightly lit. Not at all cheesy and tacky like the Kyoto Handicrafts Center we went to with the program, nor dark and crowded like the major museum exhibits (e.g. the Nara Nat’l Museum) we had been to, where the crowd basically forces you to move gradually, in single file, along the cases. Plus, to my surprise, the maiko dancing were actual maiko, from an actual geisha house, not museum staff or something like that. The dance was quite short, shorter in fact than the brief explanation of the seasonal clothes and jewelery the maiko were wearing, but it was still quite nice, and interesting.

There was the opportunity for hands-on crafts activities – today was apparently yûzen dyeing. You could made a pair of coasters for 600 yen, or other things for just a bit more. It was quite tempting, as I find stencil dyeing surprisingly interesting as something I’d want to try. The atmosphere there, too, was far less tacky and touristy, and far less “for-profit tourist trap” than the Handicrafts Center. Why we went to that Handicrafts Center instead of to this Trad. Crafts Museum or to one of Alex Kerr’s Origins programs is really beyond me.

Had lunch at Restaurant Ukifune, just upstairs from the museum in Miyako Messe. Beautiful atmosphere, looking out over the garden and the street. Felt like the kind of up-to-date sleek, modern, well-lit, high-class museum café you’d find at MoMa or something, except that the prices were fully reasonable. I had a delicious bowl of udon with yuba and lots of other fixings for just 800 yen.

Finally, after exploring Heian Jingû and its gardens briefly, we made our way to Café Bibliotec HELLO!, which was in my friend’s guidebook, and which is located on Nijô-dôri, just east of Yanagi-banba-dôri.

After biking around a little bit trying to find it, we almost gave up, but I am so glad we didn’t. This place was wonderful, just precisely the kind of atmosphere and aesthetic that I expect and desire from the modern side of Kyoto. That is, it’s no 400-year-old teahouse; it’s very much a 21st century heavily-Western-inspired café. But it is beautiful in its hardwood design, quirkly different areas – each section of the shop having different types of chairs and hence a different feel. There’s a big table for about 10, with a small potted tree and flowers in the center; small tables for parties of two; a couch or two or three; and a table upstairs for the slightly removed, isolated, VIP experience.



The menu was also quite nice, with quite a few kinds of teas, chais, tea lattes and the like, in addition to various coffee drinks.

I had a mint steamed milk, which was lovely, and an order of French toast with fruit, which was very nicely arranged, and nothing at all like the sort of plain, as-is, “you want French toast? here’s French toast” one would expect from a US diner, no style, just straight up. If I were living here more permanently, I just might want to make myself a regular there. (Though there are so many other places to try.)

The photos don’t quite do the place justice. But click through on any of the photos to my Flickr pages for a bit more on my thoughts on the café.

The rainy season seems to be coming to a close; the intolerably hot and humid season seems to be beginning. Fortunately it started raining just as we got home from the café.

More ported posts on my travels to come.

Read Full Post »