When the people at The Guardian were putting together a big bundle of content about Japan, they asked me to write about how to enjoy Kyoto without spending a fortune.
First, the bad news: Kyoto can be a crushingly expensive place to visit. It’s packed with once-in-a-lifetime attractions at once-in-a-lifetime prices. But here’s the good news: many of the best bits are cheap, if not free. Here are some low-cost highlights.
The Miyamasou ryokan is one of Japan’s great dining destinations. Up in the forested Miyama mountains, north of Kyoto, chef Hisato Nakahigashi serves kaiseki (a traditional, multi-course dinner) prepared with wild vegetables, herbs, fish and meat, all sourced from within 20km of his kitchen. If you can afford it (prices start at ¥15,750, around £130), and don’t mind the 50-minute drive from central Kyoto, it’s a meal you won’t soon forget. But there’s an easier, cheaper way to try the man’s food. In 2008, he opened Oku, a cafe in Kyoto’s Gion district. The original plan was to use the space as a retail outlet for a line of lacquerware that Nakahigashi designs with a young ceramicist – and it developed into a cafe because the chef wanted to let people test-drive his plates and bowls. So you can now eat a tapas-style sampler of Miyamasou cuisine, along with miso soup, rice and pickles for £20. And if you like the tableware, you can buy it on the way out, though not on any shoestring budget.
And read the rest at the link below.