03/30/2009

BACK IN THE U. S. S. A!

Sorry KyotoFans, I know that O-Hanami Season (Cherry Blossom) is just ramping up but I just had to make a quick getaway to snatch some piece-of-mind and gear up for the touristic onslaught that is sure to commence.

So.....

Hawai.

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For many of Us, especially women I've polled (no pun intended), the 1st Time isn't always the Best but I have to say that for Me that Lead-off spot has been working out just fine and the perfectly precious island of Oahu was no exception.




The Beach at Waikiki was a mellow, honey-hued beauty with an inviting smile, open arms and bedroom eyes.

If there is Weather Heaven it must certainly feel like Hawai- Perpetually Sunny, warm and topped off with a gentle cooling breeze like a Lovers sweetest kiss.

Food? Check! Fish pulled fresh from the Ocean, Steaks that will make you glad to breathe, fresh delicious fruit in abundance and Kona Coffee to smoothly kick off your day.P1000887.JPG

Every single person I talked with was friendly, relaxed, easygoing and in no rush to get anywhere, doubtless because they were already there.
Happiest Taxi Drivers I have ever, ever met!

Hell.....even the Golf was great! (2 pars, 2 bogeys, 4 doubles and the rest we don't need to discuss)
And please don't neglect your ice cold Brew at the 19th Hole.


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Alas, this Holiday sadly could not last forever and so it is back to Life/Reality but thankfully I brought a little of the Island Spirit back home with me.




Aloha!






posted by Billy at 17:38 | Kyoto (Japan)

03/18/2009

One Night in Gion.....

One of the more sublime pleasures for foreigners living in Kyoto are those rare and wonderful occasions when you can step into the lush beauty, refined elegance and serene mystery of a timeless World beyond understanding that lives, breathes and thrives, vibrantly glowing with gentle glory while wrapped inside a calm and cool cocoon of tranquility, moments away from our fingertips yet centuries removed from our more modern senses.

A dream that is real if you just turn the right corner.P1000797.JPG

And then beautiful girls serve you delicious food and pour your drink as they treat you to summer breeze voices and shy smiles.

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So if you're a well-heeled adventurer looking for a truly unique dining experience (and I'm not kidding kids, this ain't just Dinner, it's an experience) then trip over to Gion Hatanaka, a very Traditional Restaurant & Ryokan located in the heart of Gion and waiting to take you on a delicious ride to culinary paradise.

http://www.kyotokyoto.jp/dining_cafe/de010/index.html

If you want to be treated like a King/Queen for the evening than look no further than the absolutely Out-of-this-World and Once-in-a-Lifetime service, dinner, performance and other fun features that await you just behind this very humble facade.

Your dinner is a 5 course meal and, trust me, none will disappoint. The pristine presentation alone may knock your socks off but please don't hesitate or lose your breath....Just Dig In!P1000774.JPG

Your 1st course is a fish and veggie serving (the vegs locally grown in/around Kyoto) and as you begin your delightful journey the Show will commence.

Yes.....Entertainment ensues.



The Maiko (Apprentice Geiko) and Geiko will glide out of the clouds and into your reality sometime during your 1st course and treat you to an Otherworldly yet perfectly pleasurable Song and Dance.

And that's just the beginning!

I should mention that even for Native Japanese, Maiko/Geiko are truly RockStars of the most unique brand and their entrance alone is something to behold but watch out for the cameras because a photo frenzy will begin as the Girls make their Maiko Magic.

The 2nd course is a delectable Ebimo (a hot cream shrimp stew) and tempura round and I don't usually care for tempura but I have to say that Hatanaka does it fresh and delish. Thumbs Up!

The Girls (Taneju and Kanewaka) also treat you to a superfun round of drinking games that are gaurenteed to delight and amuse one and all.
If you happen to be shy (like me) please be prepared to be placed at centerstage as the Girls will definately choose you to play because the drinking games, as you will no doubt find out, are no spectator sport so play along and have fun!



As you dig into the 3rd course, an incredible octopus and crab soup combo, please remember to drink up because it's All-You-Can-Drink at Hatanaka and your Waitress is poised and waiting for your signal so don't be bashful.

As the Girls graciously urge you on-

”Otsu Yoi!”
(What a Strong Drinker!)

The drinking games continue throughout and the Girls also join you at your table to chit-chat, answer questions, pose for pics, pour your drink, make you smile and generally make you happy to be alive as you indulge in your delicious 4th course and bask in oisuimono (a clear soup with fresh bamboo shoots) happiness.
But save some room for dessert because.......DAMN!

Alas, in my opinon, Beer and dessert don't mix too well so I don't normally partake in the Sweet Stuff but Hotcha served up a fresh mango ice cream/strawberry/blueberry/whipped cream combo that even I couldn't resist and, Brothers and Sisters, it was GO for launch! We had Lift-off!
And I don't know how they made that Mango Ice Cream but I hope they never lose the recipe!

P1000792.JPGIf there's a more proper finish to a splendid meal than I've never had it.

Yes.......You will have to break open your Piggy Bank in order to take this flight to Foodie Heaven but when you walk out you'll be grinning and your Date will almost certainly be in the mood so forget the pennies and enjoy the ride!

As we were getting ready to hit the door (last ones out, you know) an older Gentleman from Tokyo who was also making a break and was with his family at the next table softly, sweetly and sincerely reflected,

“This is a memory I can take to my grave.”

He was wearing a blissful smile on his face when he said it and I thought he summed up the whole evening rather neatly.








posted by Billy at 18:17 | Kyoto (Japan)

03/06/2009

Out of the Blue...Into the Black

Art turns me on.

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I don't know exactly why or how but every once upon a star you walk into a room and it just grabs by the heart and squeezes.

So yesterday I strolled over to Galerie H2O,P1000718.JPG

http://www.eaudesign.com/h2o/

tip-toed through the entrance and slipped into a dream.

The Goods were supplied by a Kyoto Artist/Woman whose work you may have already seen even if you didn't know it. She's shown her work in Tokyo, designed supercool covers for the Ipod, splashed a Tour Bus with her visions and favored several Gion hotspots with large pieces that make you feel cool just by sitting in front of them.
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Do yourself a solid and take a look.

http://kawaotomoko.com

Something about her work both calms and arouses me in a way that makes me feel happy to be alive and hungry for more.
She makes me see things more clearly and want to look more closely and, for me at least, that is no small mountain to climb but please see for yourself and enjoy.

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The Bad News?
This particular exhibit is about to close (Sunday, 8th) so sorry for the late heads-up but if it makes you feel any better I got robbed too. I missed what I heard was a kicking Opening Party (F *****g duty called) and barely managed to make it yesterday.
Yet make it I did but, as with all things natural and beautiful, of course photos are at best a poor substitute for the Real Thing so if you want to feel your blood pump a little bit faster or light a fire in your mind then stop in and soak up the soul. P1000728.JPG






posted by Billy at 18:49 | Kyoto (Japan)

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