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Yurakucho, Chiyoda, Tokyo 100-0006, Japan
Under the tracks of the Yamanote line train, running from Tokyo to Shinbashi stations, you'll find hidden, unique dining experiences. Down here locals serve everything from specialty Japanese cuisines to unique international tastes—Thai, French,...
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1 Chome-4-15 Nishiazabu, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 106-0031, Japan
Much is made of Tokyo’s Michelin stars, particularly the sushi kind—thanks to mass media reviews and documentaries such as “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.” Just about every raw fish fan around the globe is familiar with such big-name sushi eateries as Jiro...
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3f, アメ横センタービル 4 Chome-7-8 Ueno, Taitō-ku, Tōkyō-to 110-0005, Japan
Here is tako (octopus) for sale at one of the many merchant stalls dotting the Ame-yoko shopping street in Ueno, Tokyo. Ameyoko (アメ横) is a busy market street along the Yamanote Line tracks between Okachimachi and Ueno Stations. The name "Ameyoko"...
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Japan, 〒250-0407 Kanagawa-ken, Ashigarashimo-gun, Hakone-machi, Ninotaira, 二ノ平1121
This is the view inside the Symphonic Sculpture by Gabriel Loire at the Hakone Open Air Museum (彫刻の森 in Japanese) in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. The museum opened in 1969 as the first open-air art museum in Japan. The spectacular grounds,...
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2 Chome-8-1 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tōkyō-to 163-8001, Japan
View of Tokyo at dusk as seen from the 54th floor observation deck of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Nishi-shinjuku. Admission to the observatory is free and well worth it for a fantastic, sweeping view of the Tokyo skyline.
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8 Chome-6-8 Ginza, Chūō-ku, Tōkyō-to 104-0061, Japan
I’m going to drop all pretenses and just come out and say this—this is the best steak in the world. Hands-down. Seriously, nothing else even comes close. Even Wagyu (as in true Japanese beef—not that horrible simulacrum pawned off on ignorant...
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2 Chome-1-1 Shibadaimon, 港区 Tokyo 105-0012, Japan
Craving a bowl of killer ramen but put off by the prospect of waiting in line for hours to do so? Well, look no further than Fukki, a brilliant noodle shop in between Shiba Park and Hamamatsucho Station specializing in Hakata-style tonkotsu (pig...
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1 Chome-12-1 Yokoami, Sumida-ku, Tōkyō-to 130-0015, Japan
A stone lantern and stepping stones on the grounds of Kyu-yasuda Teien (former Yasuda Gardens) in Ryogoku, Tokyo. This is a small Japanese garden located behind the Kokugikan (sumo hall) in Ryogoku that was once owned by Zenjiro Yasuda, founder of...
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Japan, 〒107-6290 Tōkyō-to, Minato-ku, Akasaka, 9丁目7−6 東京ミッドタウン・ガーデン内
Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake created this experimental design museum, and star Japanese architect Tadao Ando constructed the building. The museum always has great installations by artists such as the industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa. —...
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Japan, 〒160-0004 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku-ku, 新宿区Yotsuya, 1 Chome−1−11 陽臨堂ビル 1F
When I took my beautiful wife to Tokyo to celebrate her birthday in March, because we only had three days in town we had to very carefully curate our dining choices. While we did visit an old favourite, most of the restaurants we visited were new...
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7 Chome-14-18 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 106-0032, Japan
Honmura An in Roppongi is famous for its housemade soba (chewy buckwheat noodles). Owner Koichi Kobari uses a sobabocho (soba knife) to cut the noodles each day. I always get the soba with tororo, which is grated mountain yam, and a cold beer. —...
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5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji, Chūō-ku, Tōkyō-to 104-0045, Japan
The Tsukiji Market is the world's largest seafood market, with more than 2,000 tons of seafood moving through it daily. There are two parts to the operation: the inner market, or jonai, accessible after 10 a.m., and the outer market, or jogai,...
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2 Chome-10-1 Yūrakuchō, Chiyoda-ku, Tōkyō-to 100-0006, Japan
Koji, a volunteer for Tokyo Free Guide, knew only that I wanted to experience something in the city related to food. Instead of taking me to the Tsukiji fish market, he led me to a shopping mall in the Ginza neighborhood. We descended into the...
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Japan, 〒150-0001 Tokyo, 渋谷区神宮前6−2−4
This restaurant was recommended by the "Tokyo Guide" iPhone app I was using. It looked great, and I love dumplings. When we walked in, we were a bit worried because everything was in Japanese, even the menu. Donna, who knows Chinese, was trying to...
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Yanaka, Taitō, Tokyo 110-0001, Japan
On the east side of Tokyo, travelers can experience the city’s frenetic spirit. In the Ameyayokocho neighborhood, you’ll find seedy-looking love hotels, pachinko parlors, and chatty street vendors. When the chaos becomes too intense, escapeto...
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Lake Chūzenji, Chugushi, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-1661, Japan
The Chuzenji Temple in Oku-nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, was originally founded in 784 by a Buddhist monk known as Shodo-shonin and is located on the shore of Lake Chuzenji, which is approximately 1,300 meters above sea level. In the middle of the...
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2 Chome Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0002, Japan
Ishi no Hana in Shibuya is one of the most progressive bars in the city. The mixologist, Shinobu Ishigaki, creates forward-thinking, modern concoctions from rare seasonal ingredients such as saffron syrup and lavender brought over from Hokkaido. —...
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1 Chome-1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tōkyō-to 100-0005, Japan
Eating at Mutsumiya is like taking a trip to Hokkaido, an island in northern Japan. The place serves the classic Hokkaido miso-based ramen, created with water brought over from Hokkaido. The shop is located on the Tokyo Ramen Street, a collection...
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Japan, 〒106-0031 Tōkyō-to, Minato-ku, Nishiazabu, 4 Chome−22−10 プレステージ西麻布
The chefs put a French twist on classic Japanese-style iron griddle cooking, which makes Ahill a totally unique teppanyaki restaurant. I like that they always give you curry and rice at the end of your meal. —Kashiwa Sato 4-22-10 Nishi-Azabu,...
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1-1 Chiyoda, Tokyo 100-8111, Japan
Even in the middle of winter, the Imperial Palace Gardens are well worth a stroll. There are plants from all the prefectures of Japan, and the bamboo is lush year-round. The palace is about a 10-minute walk from Tokyo Station, and it's a...
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1 Chome-3-3番28号 Yokoami, Sumida-ku, Tōkyō-to 130-0015, Japan
I have found that one of the best ways to immerse yourself in a foreign culture is to attend a local sporting event. My husband & I happened to be in Tokyo during the annual sumo wrestling tournament. So we bought the cheapest tickets that were...
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5 Chome-2 Tsukiji, Chūō, Tokyo 104-0045, Japan
Fresh anago eel battered and deep-fried until crispy. The tempura anago is then dipped into a savory soy broth and placed over a steaming bowl of rice. Tenfusa Tsukiji 5-2-1, Building #6
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6 Chome-11-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 106-6108, Japan
Watching the sunset from Roppongi Hills was my favorite Tokyo experience. We bought tickets to the Mori Art Museum, which included entrance to the observation deck on the 52nd floor of Mori Tower. We payed 1500 yen ($17) for the museum and...
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3-7-1-2, 3丁目-7 西新宿 新宿区 東京都 163-1055, Japan
Immortalized on celluloid in the film Lost in Translation, the modernist property spreads across the upper floors of the three connecting granite, steel, and glass columns of Shinjuku Park Tower. The 770-foot building rises in a succession of...
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Japan, 〒150-0042 Tokyo, 東京都 渋谷区宇田川町4−3
Noticeable by a bright yellow sign with a pig eating Ramen, Hakata Tenjin offers the best affordable Ramen in Shibuya. Perfect for the day after a late night out in one of the many bars in Shibuya. Address: Tokyo, Shibuya-ku, Dogenzaka 1-5-4
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375 Hanaseharachichō, Sakyō-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 601-1102, Japan
You’ll feel zen from the moment you drive in from nearby Kyoto, along a narrow road through Japanese cedars and past temples and shrines, to the moment you sink into a hot bath at this intimate ryokan. Refreshed and relaxed, you’ll then sit...
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Akihabara, Taitō, Tokyo 110-0006, Japan
Through a maze of off-street spaces and narrow steps, this is where you can find special nerdy places that offer a variety of electronic gadgets, games and anime figures, among many other things. This is where Japanese pop culture lives and...
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2 Chome-3-1 Asakusa, Taitō, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan
Touring Tokyo via Rickshaw is something I never thought I would do. For whatever reason it always seemed wrong to have a man standing where a horse would be in other cultures. But then again, every country is different and I soon learned that this...
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Arashiyama Genrokuzancho, Ukyō-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 616-0007, Japan
In western Kyoto, there is a very large forest of bamboo. As you can see in the photo, the shoots grow very tall, making those who stroll by look quite small. I'm sure there are times when this road is crowded, but when we were there, people were...
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2 Chome-1-31 Yukinoshita, Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa-ken 248-8588, Japan
Kamakura, Japan's medieval capital, is full of ancient sites and only a 40-minute train ride from Tokyo. It's full of temples, shrines, sailing, surfing, and souvenir shops. Make sure to see the Daibutsu, the over 750 year old and 40 ft tall...
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1 Chome-8-20 Ōmachi, Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa-ken 248-0007, Japan
During a visit to Kamakura (about 50 km south of Tokyo, about an hour by rail), we spent an hour or so at the Miyamoto Kimono Shop (1-8-20 O-machi, Kamakura City). In one of the back rooms, this young man was being taught chado ("the way of tea")....
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Tokyo, Japan
While visiting Tokyo, I was really happy to attend a traditional Kabuki performance at the Shimbashi Enbujo Theatre. I bought my tickets online before my arrival in Japan (at the box office, you must present the credit card that you purchased the...
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Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
Shibuya is a center of Japanese fashion, culture, color, noise, and light. Harajuku girls? They're in Shibuya. Manga? Find it in Shibuya. Biggest scramble crossing in the world? Sit at the Starbucks in Shibuya and marvel at the madness below. You...
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Japan, 〒111-0031 Tōkyō-to, Taitō-ku, Senzoku, 3 Chome−20−2 吉原神社
My wife and I were in Japan for her first visit, and we had resolved to stay in Japanese-style ryokans instead of Western-style hotels to save money as well as for the new experiences. Needless to say, before GPS, this resolution made it...
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1 Chome-2-11 Ryūsen, Taitō-ku, Tōkyō-to 110-0012, Japan
Located in the residential district known as Hakusan, this restaurant serves vegetarian food of the Zen Buddhist Monks dating back over 300 years. Those monks really ate well! A traditional Japanese room of tatami mats and sliding doors was set...
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Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
From the quiet of a monastery in Koyasan and the serene beauty of Mount Fuji to a winter's evening in Tokyo, there is quite the paradigm shift! Tokyo amazes, it takes your breath away, but it doesn't stop for you, it just sweeps you along for the...
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Japan, 〒105-0013 Tōkyō-to, Minato-ku, Hamamatsuchō, 2 Chome−13−12 ライズウェルビル 1F
While the craft beer revolution was busy sweeping the US, Japan was getting left behind, content with admittedly tasty but decidedly stodgy national brew brands like Asahi and Kirin. Thanks to strict tax laws prohibiting brewers from producing...
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Japan, 〒150-0001 Tōkyō-to, Shibuya-ku, Jingūmae, 5 Chome−9−13 喜多重ビル
Shopping at Oriental Bazaar in Omote-sando is something of a guilty pleasure—you know you’ve just been sucked into one of the biggest tourist traps in town, but at the same time the convenience afforded by being able to purchase souvenirs...
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28-17 Sarugakuchō, Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō-to 150-0033, Japan
Imagine a whole flea market crammed into one small space. That’s Hollywood Ranch, where I’ve shopped since college for jeans, T-shirts, and even incense. —Kashiwa Sato 81/(0) 3-3463-5668. This appeared in the January/February 2013 issue. Read more...
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Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
Lovely ladies in kimonos brave the rain in Kyoto. This was taken in front of Chion-in Temple near Gion earlier this week. Even in the pouring rain the Sakura, which are in full bloom, were lovely to behold and holding up nicely.
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Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
Becoming a maiko - young apprentice geisha - is one part elegance and three parts hard labor. Available in many studios sprinkled throughout Kyoto, this rich experience lets you live the life of a maiko, if only for one ethereal night. Your visit...
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68 Fukakusa Yabunouchichō, Fushimi-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 612-0882, Japan

Fushimi Inari Taisha on Inariyama mountain is dedicated to the Shinto gods of rice and sake, but Inari is also the god of merchants and that brings a lot of businesspeople to worship here. Everyone else stops by to see the thousands...

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294 Kiyomizu 1-chōme, Higashiyama-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 605-0862, Japan

Kiyomizu-dera on Mount Otowa is one of the most famous temples in Japan, a place that appears in every sequence of Japanese travel photos. The landscape is all cherry trees and forest; it is among Kyoto's loveliest spots. The current structure...

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1 Kinkakujichō, Kita-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 603-8361, Japan
Built in the 14th century as a villa for a powerful shogun, Kinkaku-ji temple, commonly referred to as the Golden Pavilion, is an easy bus ride from the main bus terminal in Kyoto. The temple is one of the most popular buildings in...
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Japan, 〒604-8054 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Nakagyō-ku, Higashiuoyachō, 富小路通四条上る西大文字町609番地
What's not to love in a covered arcade, jam-packed with stalls selling pickle, roast fish, toasty rice crackers, fresh fish, grilled meat, every fruit and vegetable, roasted chestnuts, freshly grilled mochi, sashimi on a stick, kushikatsu, green...
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Kyotogyoen, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 602-0881, Japan
On a small side street, near the Palace Side Hotel, a small traditional house hides a gastronomical gem - sukiyaki! Shuck your shoes, step up onto the tatami map, sit on a cushion around a low, circular table and point to the sukiyaki of your...
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Tetsugaku-no-michi, Jōdoji Ishibashichō, Sakyō-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 606-8406, Japan
When we arrived in Kyoto in mid-April, most of the cherry blossoms were no longer coloring the trees but sprinkled on the ground. We got lucky, though, spotting a few along the Philosopher’s Path (Tetsugaku no michi) still afluff with pink...
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Japan, 〒604-8054 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Nakagyō-ku, Higashiuoyachō, 富小路通四条上る西大文字町609番地
I’m starting to believe in the weight loss properties of matcha. Something about how it triggers thermogenesis; perhaps it’s the restorative antioxidants. It’s the only way I can explain how I was able to eat my daily half of a FU Baum, a matcha...
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Japan, 〒600-8555 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Shimogyō-ku, Higashishiokōjichō, 京都市下京区烏丸通塩小路下ル東塩小路町
This hidden restaurant is located in Kyoto near the Gojo Ohashi Bridge. They serve Kyo-fu, which is made from wheat flour and has a tofu type of consistency. This was an important source of protein for Buddhist monks dating back to the 1350’s and...
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Japan, 〒604-0923 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Nakagyō-ku, Kamikorikichō, 木屋町通御池上る
The nested jubacko boxes were unfolded and opened like Russian matryoska dolls on the granite countertop: sushi grade sashimi and tamago, steamed vegetables in all shades of nature’s color-wheel, crispy ethereal tempura vegetables, miso soup: this...
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Japan, 〒605-0074 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Higashiyama-ku, Gionmachi Minamigawa, 祇園町南側529
We walked through the narrow alleyways of Gion looking for a place to rest our feet during the pre-dinner hours, after visiting Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) and Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion), then walking the sakura-lined Philosopher’s Path. We...
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Japan, 〒602-8381 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Kamigyo Ward, 今出川通七本松西入真盛町726-40
Takoyaki is a traditional Japanese street food particularly popular in Osaka and Kyoto. These little dough balls are filled with octopus and pan fried, then topped with a special sauce, bonito flakes, and seaweed. They’re the perfect snack with a...
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Japan, 〒602-8216 京都府Kyōto-shi, Kamigyō-ku, Tatemonzenchō, 京都市上京区 堀川通今出川南入竪門前町414
In the heart of the Nishijin textile district, the colorful textile center is worth taking a peek before continuing your stroll around beautiful Kyoto. Located in a modern building in Imadegawa, they offer tons of displays of completed fabrics and...
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If you’re looking for some good ramen in Kyoto, head to Hakata Nagahama Ramen Miyoshi in Kawaramachi (Kyoto). Hakata ramen is a specific style of Kyushu ramen (Hakata being a ward in Kyushu), with a rich and creamy pork broth and firm, straight...
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Japan, 〒107-0062 Tōkyō-to, Minato-ku, Minamiaoyama, 7 Chome−13−12 南青山森ビル 2F
Owner Nobiyuki Nakamura’s whiskey obsession is on display at his scotch bar. He has a full collection of traditional Irish whiskeys and Scottish single malts. The whole place is obsessive, right down to the hand-carved ice cubes that go into the...
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Ueno, Taitō, Tokyo 110-0005, Japan
Ueno is a great spot for a walkabout in Tokyo. It has almost everything that someone looking for an urban getaway could want—good food from countless cafes, restaurants, and food kiosks; a park (Ueno Park) to walk around; and even a children's...
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4丁目-7-35 Shibakōen, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 105-0011, Japan
Here is one of the many wacky costumes that runners wear during the Tokyo Marathon. Held every year in February, it's hands-down the most entertaining race in the world.
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2 Chome-3-1 Asakusa, Taitō, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan
The colorful Asakusa district is a laid-back, fun, colorful neighborhood where you can buy crappy kitsch and kitschy crap (there are a lot of kitchenware shops, for some reason). Asakusa is also home to Tokyo's most well-known temples and 45...
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6 Chome-10-12 Akasaka, Minato, Tokyo 107-0052, Japan
Entering Hikawa shrine requires a purification ritual that begins with washing your hands, right then left, and rinsing your mouth (with your left hand). Next is the burning fire with smoke to waft over your head to burn off impurities and perhaps...
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Japan, 〒616-8384 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Ukyō-ku, 嵯峨天竜寺車道町 11番地1
Please, I beg of you! Try the Matcha Ice Cream (and the Chestnut Ice Cream)! Oishi!
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Japan, 〒606-8435 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Sakyo Ward, 南禅寺福地町
A Japanese friend recommended the tofu restaurant at the Nanzenji temple in Kyoto. It took us an hour to find the place, which is tucked away in a quiet corner of the beautiful complex. We enjoyed an exceptionally delicious yodofu meal!
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52 Tokiwagicho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 604-0915, Japan
What a treat! Knowledgeable staff, tea-tasting samples, plenty of time, earthenware urns, peaceful atmosphere and some of the best tea in Japan!