Credit: Shot on iPhone

The Miho Museum outside Kyoto, Japan, is the venue for Louis Vuitton’s Cruise 2018 show this coming weekend. Designed by Chinese America architect I. M. Pei in 1997 and housing a collection comprised largely of antiquities, the Miho, a short drive southeast of Kyoto prefecture proper, is deeply ensconced amongst the region’s verdant woodland hills and accessed via a stunning tunnel and suspension bridge (which should make for a very Ghesquière runway).

Striking a similar balance between tradition and modernity, Kyoto, the former imperial capital of Japan, is a must-visit for those seeking an escape of their own. While the city’s breathtakingly beautiful Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, canals, palaces, cobblestoned alleyways, pagodas and parks are manifold (and extremely well-documented), the city’s more cosmopolitan attractions are just as alluring.

Herewith, six sensational design minded curios worth seeking out in Kyoto.

Now in its 18th year, owner Shin Nishibori’s café-come-bar Efish shows no signs of ageing. Nishibori, a former member of the Apple design team, also designed the café’s striking furniture and many of the thoughtfully considered items for sale that line the shelves on all three floors of this airy and relaxed eatery. The view of the Kamogawa River from the collapsing walls of the ground floor is as captivating as the food and design offering. Be prepared to wait a while for one of the coveted window seats, and be sure to ask your waiter before filling any vacancies that may arise. The wait is worth it.

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On an unassuming thoroughfare, Kaikado is a drawcard attraction that regularly has queues forming well before its doors open (like most places) at 10am. Though perhaps lighter than you might expect on the food offering, this impossibly bright coffee spot – once a tram depot – is worth investigating for its interior alone. Kaikado, a tea caddy manufacturer, enlisted the Danish design firm OEO for a recent makeover and the results are a fitting match for the brand’s copper tea vessels – all metallic fixtures and oak furnishings. An adjoining courtyard is the perfect place for a fragrant pour-over coffee and a piece of brioche toast topped with moreish red bean jam.

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Sfera’s founder and creative director Shigeo Mashiro established his design studio Sfera in Gion, Kyoto’s entertainment district, in 2001, and the brand has since grown into an international proponent of Japanese creativity, design values and materials – wood, metal, stone and natural fibres chief amongst them. Set over three immaculate light and greenery filled levels, with a ground floor café and a third floor gallery space, the reverence with which Sfera treats its offering of homewares, objects, jewellery and art is inspired (and inspiring).

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No Name
Kaiseki is Kyoto’s signature style of haute cuisine, more often than not taking the form of a Michelin-starred multi-course meal drawing heavily on a culinary tradition than began some 500 years ago as an accompaniment to tea ceremonies. And while it’s true that you’d have to go out of your way to get a bad meal in Kyoto (and anywhere in Japan, really), you would do well to go out of your way to grab a bowl of ramen at the unassuming No Name. There’s a distinct absence of signage heralding the restaurant save for an exposed filament bulb out the front of this subterranean spot, where luscious bowls of ramen prepared one of three ways – light, medium and heavy – are ordered by vending machine and each stool at the industrial-chic bar comes with its own condiment and utensil drawer. The indoor garden flanking a concrete walkway and the eye-level view out onto the adjacent canal make for a dining experience that’s both serene and extremely satisfying.

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Ippodo Tea House
You’ll know you’ve reached Teramachi Street, which runs north and south along the eastern side of the Kyoto Imperial Palace, by the smell of roasted rice. That’s the genmaicha sencha emanating from Ippodo, the renowned tea house where green tea in all its iterations is celebrated in tearooms, tea classes, and in the humming tea store adjoining a languid courtyard. A bowl of matcha prepared with fastidious precision and served with a traditional soft sweet provides sweet, bitter, umami and savoury respite from the demands of the outside world. Make sure you check your teeth for the remnants of viscous matcha before heading out again.

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The Japanese predilection for craft beer is no secret by now, with national breweries like Asahi wasting no time cashing in on the microbrewery trend with no shortage of (ostensibly) boutique offerings of their own. At Wachi, however, the strength of the country’s micro movement becomes clear. This fourth-floor izakaya is teaming with bottles from local Japanese craft breweries like the sensational Baird Brewing Company, and Sankt Gallen Brewery, whose Sweet Orange Ale makes for a fitting accompaniment to beer friendly bar fare, both traditional (yakitori and karaage) and otherwise (thick cut French fries doused in ketchup).

Credit: Shot on iPhone

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