Hello from Yuka from Ichiroya. It is Koyo season, people enjoy seeing autumn leaves-go to countryside, riverside and places with traditional archtecture like temples and shrines. We recommend to visit Japan in spring to enjoy sakura, cherry blossoms and also autumn, is nice, the air is not humid and you can enjoy the sceneries with autumn leaves.
Our accountant from Kyoto was complaining, she could hardly drive to get to the place she wants to go in this season because of so many tourits both from Japan and also from abroad to Kyoto. We could know what she meant on the weekend, the center of the city was full of people. The taxi driver said it was not yet the peak, and we were early-we should have come a week or two weeks later, but still we could feel how people were eager to see autumn leaves! Autumn leaves with temples of Kyoto is so beautiful for sure, (at night, some temples even have light up) but you may be suprirsed to see crowded streets and stores.
We went to Kyoto to meet our long time good friend. We wanted to go to lunch with her but we had no idea, Ichiro goes to Kyoto many times a month but for auctions only!
We asked the account who is a true-born Kyoto girl where we should go. There are many restaurants and cafe in guidebooks but she said, `oh this is from Tokyo, this one is only for tourists, this is too new....' and after some thought, she recommended a small Japanese restaurant right near Yasaka Shirine. This is a vey small restaurant but serve genuine Kyoto dish. She called for us and without this accountant who seemed to be a regular customer, we probably could not get the reservation on the weekend. We really enjoyed the lunch- so beautifully arranged, each dish was so tasteful.
After that, our friend, she is not a Japanese but she knows about Kyoto a hundred times more than we do took us to a secret place.
That is `Kyoto Nama Chocolate and Organic Tea house', (the wooden sign on top.)
The master used to be a chef of Japanese consulate in NY, and he has been doing this Tea House for ten years. The tea house is 120 years old machiya, traditional Kyoto town house. You enter from the little entrance (without someone's recommendation, you may not notice the place), Zecki( I hope the spelling is correct) welcomes you! Zecki is a big dog (see the second photo). When we arrived, he was sitting on the zabuton cushion in the entrance room. He noticed our friend who visits Kyoto regulary and welcomed us by sniffing and wagging his tail. Another important staff, Meowmeow was asleep in front of the heater this day. I assumed she guides people, while Zecki welcomes people! The small tatami rooms were full already, people were enjoying tea and fresh chocolate in warm and cozy space. We went through the rooms, bringing our shoes and went to the small secret garden, our friend wanted to show the place. Traditional houss in Kyoto has small inner garden and this tea house has the garden. It was like a different world. The place was surrounded by bamboos and plants - no noise or crowds. It was a complete retreat from the husttle and the bustle.
One street from here, there were famous cafe and restaurants where there were long que of people. The place is very close to Heian Jingu, the biggest shrine of Kyoto, but this space was completely hidden secret garden!
Sherry san, the wife of the chef served the fresh chocolate with organic tea with her warm smile. She wore white kappogi apron and her talking voice was like a calming music( we heard she was a singer!). We savored fresh chocolate, they were small lovely cubes- each one has subtle and different taste, Maccha, bitter and and standard.
They had chocolate cake and apple cake too - they were both so good!
It was so funny, the friend is a German and she took us here and we had a nice conversation with the Canadian wife Sherry san. We forgot all the things, we even forgot we were in Kyoto.
If you visit Kyoto and needed a retreat, this is the place to go - you can have a blissful moment.