Cute and comfy women’s-only hotel in Kyoto has everything you need for the perfect girls’ trip

This stylish new hotel has plenty of convenient amenities, and a great location to boot.

Japan is known for having some unique hotels. Between love hotels, capsule hotels, themed hotel rooms, and Japanese-style inns, travelers in Japan have plenty of interesting places to stay.

A new hotel in Kyoto, though, is gaining attention as the perfect hotel for a girls’ trip. Cafetel, a women-only hotel located in the convenient Sanjo area of Kyoto, has gone viral on Twitter for its cute interior and lovely amenities.

The hotel has two styles of rooms: private rooms with three beds, to be shared by friends traveling in a group; and dormitories for solo-travelers to share with three other women. All of the rooms are non-smoking, and have free WiFi and USB charging ports.

Room rates can be as cheap as 3,500 yen (US$31.80) per person per night for the dormitory, and 4,000 yen per person for the group rooms. Some rooms even have gorgeous views of the nearby Kamogawa River, so this hotel is a steal!

Cafetel offers plenty of amenities as well. Upon check-in, each guest will receive a robe, a bath towel, a hand towel, a tooth-brush, and a pair of Crocs for indoor use. The showers, powder rooms, and bathrooms are all common-use, but there are plenty on each floor so guests don’t have to worry about waiting for an open one. Each shower is also fully stocked with shampoo, conditioner, body soap, and face soap, and the powder rooms have hair dryers and curling irons.

They have some nice outdoor amenities too. They offer a bike sharing program, so guests can borrow bicycles to explore the area (just be prepared for many hills!), and they lend out paper lanterns for a great chance to take some cute selfies while walking in the park at night.

One of the neatest things about Cafetel is that, just as its name implies, it’s a cafe and a hotel combined. On the first floor is a cafe that’s open to the public, which is also a great resource for Kyoto travelers. It has a library of brochures and guidebooks that guests can peruse as they relax with some coffee, and Kyoto cultural events are also planned for this space, as well as local tours.

As a cafe, of course, it has a delicious-looking menu, which is in English as well as Japanese. For breakfast, guests have three choices: an egg on toast, a Japanese-style breakfast, or a pancake breakfast. Each costs just 500 yen, and includes the use of a drink bar.

The cafe is also open throughout the day, so lunch and dinner options are available in addition to organic coffees and tasty teas. Porch seating allows guests to enjoy a nice meal in the Kyoto outdoors at any time of the day.

One of their specialty dishes is the “Sanjo-san Pancakes”, six pancakes alternating pink and white with strawberry sauce, berries, whipped cream, and other tasty toppings, available for 1,500 yen.

The location of the hotel is really convenient too. It’s located right next to an exit of Sanjo Station, so guests can travel to any part of Kyoto quickly. Plus, it’s within walking distance to some of Kyoto’s best sightseeing spots, like Gion, where you can get a maiko makeover, and Higashiyama, home to the famous Kiyomizudera Temple.

Cafetel is not only a cute hotel in a great location, but they have lovely amenities for a great price, making it the perfect place to take some friends for a girls’ weekend out. While you’re there, make sure you check out the famously beautiful Sanjo Starbucks, and sip a Frappucino while looking out over the Kamogawa River.

Hotel information
Kyoto-fu, Kyoto-shi, Yamato Daitsuro Sanjo Kudasaru, Shingokencho 173 Keihin Sanjo Minami Building
京都府京都市東山区大和大路通三条下る新五軒町173 京阪三条南ビル
Cafe Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Dinner 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Source: Nijimen
Top/Featured Image: Cafetel Homepage
Insert Images: Cafetel Homepage (1), Cafetel Services (2)Cafetel Cafe (3, 4)

Hanao Shoes: Dress like a modern-day geisha with new line of geta sneakers from Kyoto

A more comfortable way to enjoy the festival season while out and about in your yukata summer kimono.

It’s summer in Japan, which means it’s time to enjoy seasonal ice creamsPikachu Outbreaks, and bathtub cinemas. It’s also time to reach into the wardrobe and take out that yukata summer kimono, because the best way to get into the traditional spirit of the season’s festivities is with a lightweight cotton garment, even if the matching wood-soled geta sandals leave you with blisters at the end of it all.

▼ Geta are traditionally worn with kimono and yukata.

Despite being beautiful to look at, geta aren’t the most comfortable of footwear, so for one forward-thinking apparel brand the solution was obvious: Combine the look of the geta sandal with the comfort of a sneaker.

▼ And the Hanao Shoe was born.

Created by Whole Love Kyoto, this new range of geta-sneaker hybrids can be worn with kimono and yukata, but they can also be added to any outfit for a unique look. The geta strap, made with Japanese fabric, is purely decorative, and matches the lines of the sneaker perfectly, as if the two were always destined to be together.

Whole Love Kyoto aims to create new items from old traditions, and the Hanao Shoe is their signature product, proudly handmade in Japan. The range of comfortable footwear comes in a variety of different colour combinations to suit all sorts of outfits.

▼ If you’re looking for the classy geta style, commonly worn with more formal kimono, then these are the ones for you.

▼ And if you’re looking to really turn heads on the street, why not add a matching geta cap to your outfit?

While the Hanao Shoe might seem like an odd creation at first, from a distance it’s cleverly deceptive, as the white sneaker looks more like the traditional white tabi sock, giving it a more natural appearance.

Instagram Photo

▼ Adding a tabi sock to the look makes the combination even more appealing.

Instagram Photo

Instagram Photo

▼ But they can add some Japanese flair to any type of outfit.

Instagram Photo

The price of the footwear is sadly under wraps, with stock at the online store currently sold out. For those wanting to catch a glimpse of these in person, though, Whole Love Kyoto will be displaying them at Ueno Park’s Tokyo Edo Week festival from 26-29 July.

Source: Whole Love Kyoto via Japaaan
Featured image: Whole Love Kyoto
Insert images: Pakutaso, Whole Love Kyoto

Kyoto Ninja Run tour can add over 100 ninja missions to your itinerary if you’re tired of temples

English-language programs don’t let you just dress like ninja, but act like one too.

The typical Kyoto trip includes lots of standing around in temples, admiring the architecture and landscaping as you wait your turn to snap a few pictures of the scenery. While it’s a perfectly enjoyable way to experience Japan’s former capital, those looking for a more active experience will be happy to know that they now have the alternative option of temporarily joining a ninja clan.

Ninja Run, based in Kyoto’s Fushimi neighborhood (home of the gorgeous Fushimi Inari Shrine) just started operations this month. In contrast to more mundane tours, Ninja Run participants dress from head to toe in authentically designed ninja garb and work with teammates to carry out missions in the local community.

What sort of missions? Ninja Run’s website alludes to “obtaining information from enemies, destruction, battle, [and] guarding important people,” and mystery-solving, escape games, and assisting local merchants are also among the options. In total, there are over 100 different ninja objectives, broken up into various difficulty classes.

Upon completion of your mission, you’ll be judged by the organization’s master ninja and given a rank depending on the level of skill you displayed in performing your duties, as well as a certificate of completion as testimony of your shinobi capabilities.

While the golden age of the ninja corresponds with Japan’s historical period of isolation, Ninja Run offers excursions in not only Japanese, but English and Chinese as well, welcoming inbound foreign travelers into its activities. Ninja Run’s ninja are also currently brushing up their French, Spanish, Korean, and Thai, and plan to begin offering missions in those languages too in the near future.

Single-mission operations, including ninja suit rental, start at 4,800 yen (US$43), with additional missions available as add-on options for extra-industrious shadow warriors. Participants of all ages can take part, though kids must be accompanied by an adult (presumably to gently pull them back into regular society once the mission is done, lest they decide to remain ninja for their entire lives).

Ordinarily, Ninja Run missions are offered between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., but during the summer months you can also request starting times of as early as 8 a.m. and as late as 9 p.m., helping you avoid the mid-day heat or fill up your nocturnal itinerary in somewhat-lacking-in-nightlife Kyoto. If you’re ready to step into the shinobi world, Ninja Run reservations can be made here.

Related: Ninja Run website
Sources: Japaaan, PR Times
Top image: PR Times
Insert images: PR Times, Ninja Run

Kyoto code cracked? Japanese bartender translates Kyotoites’ compliments into hidden insults

Buddhist monk who also tends bar says to take complements from Kyoto with a grain of salt.

Kyoto is famous for many things. Even among Japanese people, the city is strongly associated with serene temples, delicious matcha green tea, and elegant geisha traditions.

However, Kyoto also has a reputation for being a place where compliments sometimes shouldn’t be taken at face value. Many argue that the refined politeness of Kyotoites occasionally doubles as a mask to obfuscate far less friendly sentiments, which brings us to Japanese Twitter user @bozu_108, a Buddhist monk who also works as a bartender (which isn’t an entirely unheard of combination of professions).

In a recent tweet, @bozu_108 highlights three phrases that “only true Kyotoits can understand,” starting with:

1. “Your clothing is so fashionable.”

Even if you’re not a hard-core fashionista, it’s always nice to have your outfit complimented, especially when it’s coming from someone who hails from a city with such advanced aesthetics as Kyoto, right? Except, according to @bozu_108, if someone from Kyoto says this to you, what they really mean is…

“Your clothes look weird.”

2. “You have such a kind-looking face.”

Kyoto prides itself on being hospitable and considerate, even by the already lofty standards of Japanese conduct. Therefore, insinuating that a person is kind must be praise of the highest order, right?

Maybe. But @bozu_108’s interpretation is different, and is based on the disconnect between complimenting someone’s intangible personality when discussing their physical features, which leads him to say that the true meaning here is

“You sure are ugly.”

3. “You say such interesting/funny things.”

Specifically, @bozu_108 is talking about the Japanese word omoshiroi, which can refer to interesting, comical, or simply fun things. And since being a good conversationalist is an important social grace, surely this is a good thing right?

It is…unless, as @bozu_108’s claims, the concept you’re conveying is only fresh and comical because it’s outside the bounds of common sense, and the hidden message is:

“Is there something wrong with your brain?”

Now, before you go doubting every nice thing you’ve ever heard on a trip to Kyoto, it’s important to point out that while @bozu_108’s jobs as a monk and bartender give him ample time and opportunity to observe and ruminate on human nature, he himself works and lives in Tokyo, not Kyoto. As such, his translations may not be 100-percent accurate. And, of course, with well over a million people living in Kyoto, there’s a nearly limitless potential for personal variation in attitudes and speaking style, and despite the city’s reputation for baroque obliqueness, there are going to also be times when people mean exactly what they say (because if you really think someone’s clothes look stylish, there’s not much you can say other than “Your clothes are stylish”).

Still, the possibilities @bozu_108 lays out are probably worth considering before you quit your job and move to Kyoto to become a fashion designer or comedian, as are the potentially concealed contexts of being told that you play the piano well or are lucky to have so many good friends.

Source: Twitter/@bozu_108 via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso (1, 2, 3)

Japan’s 10 best cultural experience activities/tours, as chosen by travelers

From traditional tea ceremonies and cooking lessons to relaxing with owls and revving through the streets, these are traveler’s picks for the best things to do while you’re seeing Japan.

When you travel to Japan, it’s all well and good to see the country, but it’s even better if you can experience it. Thankfully, Japanese travel providers have a wealth of what’re called taiken (“experience”) tours and activities that let you actively participate in aspects of traditional and contemporary Japanese culture.

Of course, the downside to having a wealth of choices is that there simply isn’t time to do all of them. So to help travelers narrow down their selection, the users of TripAdvisor, hot off putting together a list of their favorite restaurants in Japan, have let their voices be heard in an annual ranking of the best activities and tours in Japan, and below are the top 10 (by the way, all of the organizations listed here have English-speaking staff and websites, and we’ll have links for you at the end of the article).

10. Tokyo FooDrink Tour (Tokyo)

If Japanese cuisine is what drew you to Japan, Japan Wonder Travel has multiple tours for fans of the country’s food and drink. Most are about three and a half hours in length, taking you to restaurants, food stalls, and pubs in an around Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market, Asakusa’s historical district, or Shinjuku nightlife center. This fall, it’s also offering a new tour that visits both Tsukiji and the scheduled-to-open new fish market in Toyosu.

9. Tokyo Miracle Cycling Tour (Tokyo)

Despite being Japan’s biggest city, central Tokyo is concentrated enough that it’s a great place to get around by bike, which offers you a more intimate view than you’d get from the train while letting you see more than you ever could on foot. Tokyo Miracle Cycling Tour lets you choose between three different three-hour courses that traverse Tokyo’s boulevards and backstreets, or cycle along its scenic waterways.

8. Ebisuya Arashiyama rickshaw tour (Kyoto)

Ebisuya operates in Tokyo, Kanagawa, and Hokkaido as well, but the company was founded in Kyoto, and their tours of the Arashiyama bamboo groves, which range in length from a single block to a leisurely two-hour trip, are an elegant way to see one of the most beautiful parts of an already beautiful city.

7. Mayuko’s Little Kitchen (Tokyo)

Like we said, many travelers come to Japan because of a desire to eat delicious, authentically prepared Japanese dishes. Eventually you’ll have to go home, though, and if you’re craving the flavors of Japan, the best thing to do is recreate them in your own kitchen, which is exactly what cooking instructor Mayuko will teach you how to do in a friendly, relaxed, setting.

6. Cycle Kyoto (Kyoto)

Kyoto’s train/subway network is petty limited, so instead of spending half your day of temple-hopping waiting in long lines for crowded buses, why not see the sights by bike instead? Cycle Kyoto’s group tours range from three to seven hours, and they also often custom-design private tours for groups of up to 40 riders.

5. Maikoya Osaka Kimono Tea Ceremony (Osaka)

Speaking of Kyoto crowds, some travelers visiting central Japan opt to stay in nearby Osaka instead, since the larger city boasts a bigger selection of modern hotels and conveniences. There’s still culture to be found in Osaka, though, and Maikoya (pictured at the top of this article) will teach you the basics of tea ceremony as well as helping you dress in a formal kimono or lightweight yukata. They’re not absolute sticklers for tradition, either, as you can also opt to participate in lessons wearing your everyday Western-style clothing, as well as sit in a chair if your body isn’t limber or spry enough to handle kneeling Japanese-style on the floor.

4. Machi Taxi (Kyoto)

While taxi services in Japan are often a simple matter of being driven from Point A to Point B, some drivers take on a more involved role, providing both a private car and informative descriptions of the city’s sites and history on a multi-stop journey through the town. Machi Taxi’s six-hour tours can accommodate up to six guests, and if you have any worries about their English-speaking abilities, just click the video above to have your ears pleased and your mind set at ease.

3. YUCa’s Japanese Cooking (Tokyo)

Raised by a family of farmers and previously a food critic working in New York and Toronto, unorthodoxly spelled YUCa offers classes in how to make comfort food such as ramen and okonomiyaki, traditional sushi and tempura, cute character bento boxed lunches, and even seasonal Japanese desserts.

2. Akiba Fukurou (Tokyo)

There’s a bit to linguistically unpack here. First, Akiba is the nickname for Akihabara, Tokyo’s games and anime district. Fukurou, meanwhile, is how you saw owl in Japanese, and Akiba Fukuro is an owl cafe, located just a short walk from Akihabara, where a “family” of three dozen owls resides. As one of Tokyo’s most popular animal cafes, reservations are highly recommended.

1. MariCAR (Tokyo)

Stick an O in the middle and a T on the end, and you’ll see what the appeal of MariCAR is. While the company’s website bills its tours as “Real Life SuperHero Go-Karting,” it’s really video game franchise Mario Kart that MariCAR is aping, as not only does it rent go karts to drive through downtown Tokyo, it also provides rental costumes.

Aside from TripAdvisor users’ glowing reviews, there’s one other reason to go ahead and book a tour with MariCAR, which is that despite the popularity of its tours, the company’s future is sort of uncertain. MariCAR has been the target of lawsuits from Nintendo itself (even as MariCAR attempts to file patents for its own business operations). In addition, multiple accidents with foreign tourists behind the wheel have been bringing increased scrutiny to a business model that essentially boils down to putting people with little to no experience with Japan’s traffic laws into cars, adding the distraction of cosplay, and driving down public roads in a highly congested city.

For now, though, MariCAR is still in business, and the number-one recommendation from TripAdvisor’s users for experience tours/activities in Japan.

Related: Japan Wonder Travel, Tokyo Miracle Cycling Tour, Ebisuya, Mayuko’s Little Kitchen, Cycle Kyoto, Maikoya Osaka, Machi Taxi, YUCa’s Japanese Cooking, Akiba Fukurou, MariCAR
Source: TripAdvisor
Top image: Maikoya Osaka
Insert images: Japan Wonder Travel, Ebisuya, Cycle Kyoto, Akiba Fukurou

Kyoto family’s cat, missing for half a year, returns home after Osaka earthquake

Recent quake ends more happily than expected for one Kansai resident.

A few days have passed since a magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck the northern part of Osaka, sending tremors all throughout the Kansai region which contains neighboring cities such as Kobe, Nara, and Kyoto. The area is still in a state of uncertainty, however, as the possibility that this was just a foreshock lingers.

But for one family in Kyoto, the disaster has brought an unexpected surprise in the form of their beloved pet cat. According to Twitter user Kiyo (@kiyo_ZX10RR), within hours of the large quake striking, the wandering feline returned to the house it had lived in up until six months ago.

▼ “I don’t know if it was because of the earthquake, but my pet cat that had been missing for half a year finally came home! [several crying kaomoji] His feet are jet-black [several crying kaomoji] Now he is eating a lot! [crying kaomoji] Thank god! Thank god! [crying kaomoji]”

After his disappearance late last year, the cat was spotted around the neighborhood, but Kiyo had been unable to find it himself. Months went by with no sign of the cat until a few weeks before the earthquake when sightings began to happen again.

Finally, as if to check up on his family, the cat came back the very same day of the shaking, and Kiyo shared his joy over Twitter. Kiyo also tweeted that the cat is in good health. It appeared to have been well-fed, relaxed, and not really dirty. A triangular section was taken out of its ear, but that was the worst in terms of “injury.”

This scar wasn’t picked up during any kind of catfight though. Rather it is a marking used by groups such as Doubutukikin that trap stray cats, neuter them, and then release them. It looks like they picked up this particular feline during his adventures and finding that Kiyo had already gotten him neutered, just clipped his ears and sent him on his way.

Hundreds of Twitter users were caught up in Kiyo’s heartwarming incident and shared their joy.

“That’s great news! I’m so happy for you.”
“It’s like he was worried about his family and came back.”
“Congratulations! But make sure you get it fully tested. I heard about a cat that returned home but was infected with feline AIDS.”
“That’s such a nice story. Guess he thought it was time to go home.”
“Make sure you spoil that cat rotten!”
“I’m glad I heard this after all that other terrible news.”

Kiyo tweeted that he wanted to share his story so that others who have lost pets in this or other earthquakes don’t lose hope.

For those of us in the area, hope (mixed with a dash of vitriol) is all we got until things gradually return to relative normalcy, so it’s nice to get a big injection of it from this incident.

Source: Twitter/@kiyo_ZX10RR, Togech, Doubutukikin
Featured image: Twitter/@kiyo_ZX10RR

Kyoto yakiniku restaurants offer up blue meat and drinks for Japan’s World Cup fever

Has World Cup madness gone too far for the Samurai Blue?

When you think of blue food, what comes to mind? Probably not much apart from blueberries and blue corn, or those fun blue-dyed pancakes your mom used to make when you were young. However, all of that’s about to change with the latest menu offerings at two sister restaurants in Kyoto near the famous Kamo River.

Yakiniku Bare Yaruki and Ponto-cho Yakiniku Yaruki are in the midst of a promotional campaign to sell blue horumon (beef/pork offal) for yakiniku diners. This limited-time menu is a show of support for the Japanese men’s national soccer team, which is nicknamed “Samurai Blue.” We’ve seen a blue drink and blue curry created in their honor before, but nothing has quite prepared us for the shock of seeing some vividly blue meat:

▼ That blue meat will either drum up your World Cup fighting spirit or send you running to the bathroom in defeat.

You’re probably wondering “how?” at this point. The horumon is seasoned with mint and the shocking blue color is a result of naturally occurring Spirulina, a microalgae which is often consumed as a dietary supplement. The dish goes for 506 yen (US$4.57), a seemingly arbitrary price until you realize that it actually sounds similar to “goal” when the numbers are read individually in Japanese (go-o-roku).

In addition to the meat, the restaurants are also offering blue beer, wine, lemon sours, highballs, and even more beverages for thirsty bar-goers.

The special blue menu is being offered from June 14 (opening day of the World Cup) for as long as the Japanese team is in action. If you’re feeling particularly “blue” this week, why not toast Japan in their first match against Colombia on Tuesday, June 19 at either of these establishments?

Restaurant information
Yakiniku Bareyaruki Shijo Kawara-machi-ten / 焼肉バルやる気四条河原町店
Address: Kyoto-shi, Nakagyo-ku, Kawara-machi-dori, Takoyakushi-kudaru, Shioya-cho 333-1
Open: 5pm-1am

Ponto-cho Yakiniku Yaruki / 先斗町焼肉やる気
Address: Kyoto-shi, Nakagyo-ku, Higashi-kiyamachi-dori, Shijo-agaru, 3-chome, Zaimoku-cho 182-4
Open: 4pm-12am

Source, images: PRdesse
Featured image: PRdesse