The weather in Kyoto has been warmer than usual this March, so plants have been coming alive for spring already. Here in Japan, that means pollen from cedar and cypress trees is everywhere. 😖 For people who suffer from pollen allergies, it's a little rough, but the weather's too nice to be bothered by it! 🌱
This weather makes us excited for spring in Japan because we get to enjoy the tradition of going to see cherry blossom trees around the city and have a picnic under them (known as hanami in Japanese)! There are a handful of famous temples and shrines just around The Limelight Kyoto that are known to be great spots to admire all the cherry blossom trees and surrounding landscapes. Make sure you check out at least one place while the cherry blossoms are in bloom if you want to experience what the locals do this time of year (honestly, neighborhood parks are nice too)! 🌸
Anyway, back to some more local matters. As you may have guessed from the title of this blog, we've started working on a new project where we'd like to introduce some of our neighbors around The Limelight Kyoto to you in the hopes that you'll go and check them out for yourself, then come back to The Limelight Kyoto feeling like Hanazono is your hometown.
Hanazono is an area with shops that have been around for decades; most of our neighbors know each other and are a close-knit group. It can be intimidating for people who weren't born and raised in Kyoto – or Japan – to walk in and sit down without feeling like you're imposing. If it's a restaurant: what kind of food do they serve? What kind of people are their frequent customers? What are the owners like? How can I know what kind of food a restaurant serves if I don't know much about Japanese food? Where can I even find these places? ...We wondered the same thing!
We're going to start off this series with a Japanese-style bar (known as an izakaya in Japanese) that's only a 30-second walk from The Limelight Kyoto! If you want to try a little of everything in Japanese cuisine, this is a great place to do that. They serve a wide variety of dishes that Japanese people typically enjoy as comfort food. Behind the counter is the “master” (the head chef) and his wife, a sweet and easy-going couple running things in perfect harmony.
These are the types of places that are completely unassuming from the outside (usually) and are hidden down a narrow street that you think may only be residential. This is what makes Hanazono a great place to explore and experience what it feels like to live in Japan – and Kyoto!