KYOTO — Japan’s ancient former capital may be best known for its temples, gardens and ceremony but there is more than what meets the tourist’s eye. The I.M. Pei-designed Miho Museum, which Nicolas Ghesquière chose as the site for Louis Vuitton’s resort show on Sunday, is an example of the modernist elements that dot the city’s landscape.
Visitors — welcomed by a train station that houses a multilevel Isetan department store and industrial art installations — may be surprised to see that the city center is a metropolis in nature. Meanwhile, coffee shops, design stores and interesting foods are integral to Kyoto’s modern-day identity. Here, WWD isolates some of the key spots for the fashion folk to hit while in town to take in Ghesquière’s show.
Arts & Science
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Address: 459 Hinokuchicho Kiyamachi, Nishiiru Nijo-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 604-0912
Tokyo’s complex of pristine miniature design shops has also taken residence in Kyoto. While the offering in Tokyo’s Aoyama is larger in breadth, Kyoto’s Arts & Science grouping includes a trio of boutiques: its signature Arts & Science store as well as a more casual brother & Shop and home design store Hin just one block away. The unisex styles — designed in-house — are a take on Japanese utilitarian dress, with Mackintosh coats and linen ensembles offered through a craftsman’s lens.
Hermès Pop-up Shop
Address: 570 Higashiyama-ku Higashiyama-ku Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto Prefecture
The French luxury brand continues its nine-month residence in a historic home along the Gion district’s Hanamikoji Street. The build-out is intended to strike a contrast between modern Japanese design elements and Kyoto old world charm. A current summer exhibition has transformed the home into a makeshift beach. The house will reopen with a facelift on May 13, with a new punk theme.
Tenryu-ji Shrine, Garden and Bamboo Trail
Kyoto’s many shrine attractions are spread out across the city, making them a time-consuming pursuit. Tenryu — a UNESCO World Heritage site, originally built in 1339 — offers multiple attractions in one fell swoop (a garden, shrine and brief bamboo hike), without long queues. Another advantage is the shrine’s surrounding neighborhood — more residential than those of other shrines. Hop off the commuter train at Saga-Arashiyama station to find vintage kimono stores, small matcha production houses, Japanese soft-serve ice cream, home design boutiques and macrobiotic restaurants on the walk to the garden’s entry.
Bar K-ya Honkan
Address: 103 Yaoyacho, Gokomachi Nishi-iru, Rokkaku-dori, Nakagyo-ku
The tranquil establishment with interiors inspired by traditional Kyoto residential architecture offers a full list of single-malt whiskeys, as well as cocktails prepared with freshly squeezed fruit juices. Guests can look out onto the bar’s verdant, well-maintained courtyard while being served refreshments by bartenders in starched tuxedo shirts and bow ties.
Address: 194 Sendocho Nishikiyamachi-Dori Shijo Sagaru, Shimogyo-ku | 2F Murakamiju Bldg., Kyoto 600-8019
The multipurpose, relaxed eatery boasts earthy interiors focused on Japanese minimalism — with wooden community tables and architectural light fixtures. The restaurant’s food exemplifies its aesthetic, with vegetarian and meat options of farm-to-table quality. À la carte options are often priced under $20. The restaurant is best known for its proprietary Wagyu beef hamburger, prepared with a variety of toppings. A vegetarian burger is also on offer.