For the past few weeks I have been on an awesome Asia adventure- starting in Tokyo, then to Beijing and Tianjin in China, a night in Osaka and Nara... all ending with a few days in Kyoto. Rich in nature and local traditions, Kyoto is always a favorite stop off when we come to Japan. If you haven't yet been, you MUST go! The soba alone is worth it! The shrines are too numerous to visit in one trip, so each time you come back you can visit previous ones that resonated with you and still find new gems to add to your treasure trove. The other great thing about Kyoto is the old Japanese style inns called Ryokans. You stay in a convertible room with tatami matts that host you at a low table (so you can sit on the floor) for breakfast and dinner, and then is moved aside to make way for futons that are rolled out for sleeping. The best part is that many of these ryokans have baths in the basement filled with hot (sometimes therapeutic) water. A daily visit to the bath eases sore muscles from grand days out sightseeing, and is boasted as beneficial for one's skin.
Visiting the old capital city of Japan, Nara, we were greeted by free roaming deer who are considered gods. Never before have I had the experience of interacting with deer so closely. We were given 'deer biscuits' to offer them (which made them almost overly friendly) and they ate from our hands, allowing for an occasional scratch behind the ears. It truly was a special experience.
Past the parade of deer, we beheld the oldest wooden building in the world, Todaiji, dating around 1300 years old. Inside was a beautiful bronze buddha with 28 lotus petals around the base which individually each signified a separate universe. The petals are meant to represent the vastness of 'being' that we may not even comprehend- separate from other forms of life and galaxies, yet all still connected as one. Deep thoughts and wisdom were conveyed by our special host, a priest from the historic temple.
Staying at the Commune by the Great Wall, I had glimpses of the wall as we drove in. But when I set out to hike to the Great Wall on a dirt path with jagged rocks jutting out as to compete for attention with the surrounding lush green forest, I had no idea how wondrous seeing the Great Wall of China would be.
On a rare bluebird day (the factories were all shut down for a national holiday and thus the air quality improved dramatically overnight), I made my way on to the wall and began the roller coaster journey of trekking up and down the steep spine of the winding dragon. Alone, I could not help but mutter out loud an audible 'wow' as I absorbed the magnitude of the wall. Higher, steeper, and longer than you could ever imagine- the Great Wall is indeed great.
Back at the Commune, I changed out of my hiking gear and into wide legged trousers and a breezy crop top.
There is a first for everything, and this week was my first time visiting mainland China. It is almost indescribable. There is so much history here, and the monuments attest to that, but there is also an explosion of opportunity and middle class wealth that is fueling the building of the country (specifically in the cities) that is happening at breakneck speed. The sheer volume of people is staggering. Like a good first time Beijing tourist, I visited The Temple of Heaven and the Antique Market. I hope you enjoy my photo journey below.
In a city of cement and glass, I found found the forest... through a special lunch course set at one of Tokyo's finest restaurants, Narisawa. Rated as one of (if not the) most sustainable restaurants in the world, Narisawa is a culinary adventure that amuses both the intellect and the palette. When a friend of ours who lives in Tokyo invited us to lunch I had no idea what a treat we were in for!
Over my visits to Tokyo, I have learned that there are more Michelin star restaurants in Tokyo than all of France. The attention to detail, and presentation coupled with inventive and classic taste combinations make it easy to see why. Trying to describe my meal would be an injustice (and a task I am utterly unprepared for), so we will let the pictures do the talking below. The images fall in the order of how they were served and are as mouthwateringly good as they look!
It was a happy coincidence that I wore my army green romper to a lunch that was called Evolve with the Forest. I can't say enough about Narisawa. If you are in Tokyo and ready to have one of the best meals of your life, go.
GREEN ROMPER, H&M Conscious Collection #organic #naturalfibers
SNEAKERS, Nike Better World x Liberty #social
BYRON LEATHER JACKET, The Sway, $550. #upcycled