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.

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.


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)