The Kyoto native, tastemaker and founder of Curated Kyoto, a boutique travel brand specializing in media and experiences, Sarai Aiko shares her favorite galleries, restaurants and more. Follow Sara on Instagram @sara.aiko.
What are some of your favorite places in Kyoto?
“One of my favorite places to dine with friends is Coppie. The restaurant owners are lovely. Yamahon gallery is a great place to find interior pieces for the home. Komyoin Temple is also really beautiful and full of history, and the garden was designed by Shigemori Mirei, who is one of my favorite landscape artists.”
What are some new happenings in Kyoto that you are excited about?
“In the last few years, there’s been more and more art-related events in Kyoto. ACK (Art Collaboration Kyoto) is one of Japan’s biggest contemporary art fairs.”
What are some of your favorite areas outside of Kyoto?
“Recently I’ve been going to Kobe a lot. I love exploring its unique food culture, which involves cuisines from other places, like China (hello, delicious dumplings). And I love just walking around the wharf—it’s a nice change of scenery. Kanazawa has also always been a favorite. The D.T. Suzuki Museum is a must-visit—and if you love seafood, Kanazawa is the place to go!”
What is one thing you wish more people understood about Kyoto?
“In Kyoto, ‘being in harmony’ is important. For example, when you go to a restaurant, it’s not just about the food—it’s about the plates, the cutlery, the hanging scroll, the sound, the temperature of the room, and even to some extent, the customers are “curated.” In Kyoto, there are many members-only or invitation-only restaurants, because the guests are seen as part of the experience. The hosts choose the guests to make sure they ‘fit the vibe’ that they curate. I used to perceive this as being a little “stuck-up,” but now I get it—it’s beautiful that even the guests can participate in creating the “flow” of the whole experience.”
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