IN SAFE HANDS

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE -

An in­sider es­cort is a bril­liant way to get around Ky­oto. While the city is geared to in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors, and English-speak­ing taxi driv­ers dis­play Tourist Friendly signs on their cab doors, it is busy year-round and a lot of time can be wasted in queues and crowds. I am blessed to be guided by Rika Araki of Hibikore Co, whose English is ex­cel­lent and her love of Aus­tralia ev­i­dent. Af­ter our Ate­lier Mo­ri­moto visit, we take off on our own un­scripted ar­ti­san trail, slip­ping into nto stores that sell hand­made fans, gor­geous washi-pa­per sta­tionery, bro­cade ki­mono fab­ric and pot­tery old and new. There are her­itage tex­tiles, in­clud­ing Noh cos­tumes and obi sashes, at Kon­jaku Nishimura, a two-roomed trea­sure trove; and con­tem­po­rary home­wares and men’s, women’s and chil­dren’s cloth­ing, in­clud­ing yukata-style tops, at Sou-Sou’s col­lec­tion of neigh­bour­ing back­street bou­tiques.

Tes­sai-do Co spe­cialises in an­tiques an and scrolls; Iz­a­waya in ki­mono ac ac­ces­sories such as silk draw­string po pouches and tiny hand­bags. In the heart of the old Gion nightlife quar­ter, Pagong se sells good-value zip­pered purses made fr from vin­tage tex­tiles and lined with co con­trast­ing fab­rics. Araki also leads m more struc­tured half-day and full-day to tours, with themes of cui­sine, arts and cu cul­ture, for groups of about five vis­i­tors.

Af­ter­noon’s end is at the edge of Gion Gion, at green tea head­quar­ters Saryo Tsu­jiri, es­tab­lished 1860, where brown rice tea is a spe­cialty, pret­tily pack­aged boxes of tea make the best sou­venirs imag­in­able, and scoops of matcha or roasted sen­cha ice-cream come twirled high, nestling in lacy pa­per cones that are, like Ky­oto it­self, an im­mutable work of art.

• hibikore-ky­oto/en/

SU­SAN KUROSAWA

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