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[Hoshino Resorts Feature] Head to HOSHINOYA Kyoto to Become Beautiful with Zen and Noh! (Part 1)

Arashiyama is an area that nobles in the Heian period used to visit for holidays 1,000 years ago. Its landscape looks like it hasn’t changed since then. Cradled in its bosom is the high-class inn HOSHINOYA Kyoto, which has come up with a special autumn-time travel plan where one can become beautiful through Noh and Zen meditation. This article is delivered to you from idyllic Kyoto, where the mountains are starting to turn a lovely red color and silver rain continues watering the gardens.

Head to HOSHINOYA Kyoto, Hidden Within Arashiyama

I got on HOSHINOYA Kyoto’s modern-looking boat from the inn’s deck by Togetsukyo Bridge in Arashiyama. The further up Oigawa River I went, the more distant the hustle and bustle of Kyoto, a city that is changing at a rapid speed and accepting more overseas visitors by the year, appeared.

Eventually, I started noticing the strong woody scent of nearby trees. The surface of the water changed into a jade green, and the red mountains inched closer.

2:30 PM: Drift Towards the Inn in a Modern Boat

HOSHINOYA Kyoto was established in 2009 under the concept of “taking a day off from the modern world.” It was originally a waterside vacation home for Ryoi Suminokura, a wealthy Kyoto merchant, and was later renovated into the beloved inn that it is today.

This article details the special Kyoto trip I went on that made me think countless times, “I’ve never seen this side of Kyoto before!” even though I’ve lived in Kansai for 20 years and have visited the area hundreds of times.

Day 1

After getting off the boat and walking through a tunnel of trees, I was greeted by the clear sound of a waterfall. Through the rain, I spotted the light of a lantern, and used that as a guide to arrive at the serene Water Garden.

The Start of My Elegant and Extraordinary Stay at the Waterside Villa

Rain droplets trickled down the maple tree leaves above that looked like lace stars and got swallowed up by the soft green moss below.

It was almost like the rain put on a beautiful performance - how befitting of a home tucked away by the waterside. It blew away my disappointment at the bad weather.

Get Welcomed by Refined Kyoto Sweets

Upon hearing that the inn had prepared some delicious sweets to welcome me, I went straight past a path lined with maple trees towards Salon&Bar Kura.

Waiting for me were sparkling wine and candies that shone like jewels. The candies, called "Ubatama," were actually a specialty of the long-established Japanese confectionery Kameya Yoshinaga. While the black sugar version is the most popular, there were also some more unique flavors like sweet potato and caramel.

3:20 PM: Tea Time by the Waterside with Sweets Brimming with Seasonality

There was even a wooden Othello board on the table - a rare sight, indeed! Before I knew it, I found myself playing several rounds, but the actual point of my visit was to beautify myself through Zen meditation and Noh on a 2-night, 3-day trip called “Basics of Beauty.” So, with that in mind, I left to do some Zen meditation.

Discover the Depths of Zen at a Zen Temple

The temple that I went to was famous all throughout Kyoto. The Japanese-style room inside that I passed through had a somewhat nostalgic smell and overlooked a gorgeous garden. The pin drop silence made me a bit tense, but it became extremely pleasant once I got used to it.

5 PM: Appreciate the Garden While Experiencing the World of Zen

You can experience zazen (Zen meditation while sitting down) and listen to a sermon at this temple. One interesting lesson that I took away from the experience was that apparently, a lot of Zen terminology still exist today that carry deep meanings and are used to express one’s self or other people. For example...

■知足 (chisoku):
The shortcut to a life of happiness. It may be difficult to acknowledge what you lack, but if you find joy in what’s close to you, this shortcut will open up without having to jump through too high of a hurdle.

■金屑雖貴 落眼成翳 (kinsetsu wa tattoshi to iedomo, manako ni ochite ei to naru):
Even the things that you love will hurt you if you perceive or use them the wrong way. Don’t just focus on making your face or body beautiful. Rather, take a balanced approach.

After the sermon, it was time to eat at the temple’s restaurant.

6 PM: A Buddhist Meal Filled with Gratitude

Buddhist cuisine avoids any kind of meat and seafood, sticking to in-season ingredients and simple preparation techniques to create healthy dishes. I felt a deep sense of appreciation for the delicious and beautifully plated foods that I ate.

Time for a Relaxing Bath

When I returned to my room, I found two apples on top of my bed. It turned out that they were for my bath! I opened the door to the bathroom and was greeted by the lovely aroma of the natural cypress bathtub.

It was an incredibly relaxing bath. The golden light surrounding me and the sweet scent from the drifting apples made me feel like I was engaging in forest therapy.

9 PM: Taking a Bath Under Golden Lights

By the way, they had amenities like Toki Wasure no Yu, a special bath salt made of a blend of select herbs, and Hokuroku Sosui, a body care and hair care brand whose products are made with Japanese grasses and wildflowers.

Taking deep breaths while using these products refreshed both my body and soul. I even got to use a hairdryer that’s been making waves in the beauty world!

An Introduction to HOSHINOYA Kyoto’s Gorgeous Guest Rooms

Finally, here is an introduction on HOSHINOYA Kyoto’s guest rooms. You’ll find your "evil" guest room on the first floor. It’s evil because once you enter it, you won’t want to leave its cozy interior!

Tsukihashi: A Maisonette Packed with Kyoto’s Charm

You’ll find the world’s first “tatami sofa” in the center of a Japanese-style room. This kind of room looks more beautiful when viewed while sitting down in a seiza (kneeling with the tops of the feet flat on the floor, and sitting on the soles) style, so the inn designed it in a way where you could do so.

When I actually tried sitting down this way, I realized that the gorgeous view out the window of maple trees, the lights and shadows, the transom, the shoji (sliding door), and everything else were beautifully balanced, showing off historic Japanese aesthetics.

Lovely Modern Western-style Guest Rooms on the Second Floor

On the second floor, you can find a bright and spacious Western-style room with a giant sofa that you can roll around on when sleeping. It offers a panoramic view of the emerald green Oigawa River and Mt. Ogura, which was just starting to take on autumn colors.

The bedroom was even more extravagant: the places where the light hit were splendid, and darkness engulfed one wall made of thick sliding door paper from Kyoto. The colored mica had a refined sparkle to it, and the patterns were adorable to see. The room truly reflected Kyoto in the way that it was simple yet sparkling in how creative and playful its design actually was.
This maisonette filled with Kyoto charm made me understand the reason why many people fell in love with the former capital.

■Summary of the Next Article
Following the first day, which was dedicated to experiencing the world of Zen, the second day will be all about taking a private lesson on Noh while dressed in a modern kimono. Basics of Beauty, a trip where you can become beautiful while having various authentic experiences, shall continue in the next article!

■This article was written using the experiences and knowledge of the editorial team and writer. The experience will differ for each person. Please use your own judgement when deciding whether or not to use this travel plan.

[Basics of Beauty Sample Itinerary: Day 1]

3 PM: Arrival and check in
3:30 PM: Welcoming tea with sweets
5 PM: Sermon at a Zen temple
6 PM: Buddhist cuisine for dinner
9 PM: Bath and sleep

Read more BIBEAUTÉ articles

HOSHINOYA Kyoto is part of the HOSHINOYA line of luxury hotels, the first in Japan, that are run by Hoshino Resorts. It opened in 2009 in Arashiyama, and in spring 2016, the lounge, garden, and dining space were renewed. It is receiving a lot of positive attention both domestically and abroad for its extraordinary atmosphere, the way it incorporates Kyoto’s culture, and its exemplary hospitality.

Reservation number for all HOSHINOYA hotels (9 AM - 8 PM)

■Information on the Basics of Beauty Plan (until November 14, 2017)
Sermon at Zen temple,Buddhist cuisine,private lesson at Noh theater,kimono rental,kimono fitting,meditation by the waterside

This was written and posted in 2017, so some of the contents of the service may differ now. Please view the official homepage to see what activities you can partake in now.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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