Illustration: Dané Stojanovic
Japan is a world where past and present collide most beautifully. Its former imperial capital and historic cultural capital, Kyoto, is perhaps the best example of this, a prefecture that melds its ancient world with modernity in a way so powerful you can’t help but be cast under its spell. And with the current state of affairs, and our itch to travel at its peak, an escape to the splendidly serene Kyoto is just what the doctor ordered – even if that means bringing a little piece of that magic inside your own home.
Famous for its temples and Geisha district, Kyoto privileges local geography, customs and culture in a prefecture nothing short of pristine. Just as impeccably-groomed Geiko scurry through Gion clad in kaleidoscopic kimonos, exquisite bamboo groves flourish on the flanks of the Ōi River. Here, the four seasons come alive; from canopies of maple leaves in Autumn to its famed falling cherry blossoms in Spring, the natural beauty of Kyoto is unbridled.
But in lieu of a trip to Kyoto, usher the serenity and remarkable refinement of the city into your living room. Be via the ritual of matcha-making or a Rei Kawakubo-inspired coat, journey the Japanese pursuit of perfection with us – even if it is only just for the night.
THE FILM TO WATCH
The 1983 film adaption of Junichiro Tanizaki’s classic novel, The Makioka Sisters charts the lives of four sisters in the Shōwa period, the years leading up to the Second World War. Each navigate their own personal and complex relationship to the famed Makioka family name, as it begins to loose its lustre under the harsh glare of modernity. They gather every year in Kyoto to watch the cherry blossoms bloom, and this year search for a suitable groom for Yukiko, the third eldest sister.
THE DRINK TO DRINK
Matcha, the vibrant powdered green tea, is intrinsic to Japanese culture, and the ritual which surrounds matcha-making, a tea ceremony, is as paramount as the product itself. Kyoto is famous for its own type of matcha, Uji Matcha, which is produced in the region of the same name south of Kyoto City. Make matcha at home with Ippodo Tea’s vast range, just don’t forget your whisk.
WHAT TO EAT
The ultimate Japanese snack, a squishy, sweet and utterly moreish Mochi is a must-try. Attempt the gelatinous rice cake at home with the New York Times Sweet Mochi with Red Bean Filling.
TO ENJOY AT HOME
To emulate the exceptional design of a machiya (traditional Kyoto townhouse), first fill your home with the soothing scent of tabunoki wood thanks to Maison Balzac’s Encens Japonais. Add a kick of quirk (quite literally) with Margiela’s iconic Tabi boot in vessel form, and let there be (a touch) of light with Hay’s origami-like lamp.
TABI flower vase, Margiela, shop now
LE SOLEIL INCENSE, maison balzac, Shop now
matin table lamp, hay, shop now
Japanese women are impeccable in their presentation, yet quirky in their design sensibility. To echo Japanese style at home, one can’t go past Japan’s oracle of fashion, Rei Kawakubo, with this Comme des Garçons’ coat; the perfect encapsulation of Kawakubo’s knack for refreshing classic silhouettes with unexpected flounces. Also try out the avant-garde (and acclaimed) tailoring of Yohji Yamamoto in his peaked cream lapel dress with puzzle motif. And of course, a flip-flop flatform. With its origins in Geta, the traditional Japanese footwear that hybridises a clog and a thong, fashion’s modern re-appropriation has seen it become the it-shoe of the season, like Givenchy’s stacked Kyoto sandals.
Floral-jacquard coat, COMME DES GARÇONS at net-a-porter, shop now
Ry broad motif hollow peak dress, YOHJI YAMAMOTO, shop now
Black & White Kyoto Platform Thong Sandals, givenchy, shop now
Furoshiki mini leather tote, the sant at net-a-porter, shop now
Unwavering when it comes to ritual and routine, it is the beauty ritual of a Japanese woman, which, in part, her flawless skin is indebted to. Let Japanese skin stalwart, Shisedo, lead the way with this yuzu-charged Sleeping Mask.
Waso Beauty Sleeping Mask, SHISEIDO, shop now
Samurai Japanese Lofi HipHop Mix, listen here