Konichiwa! I’ve been in Japan for the past week, on a crazy work trip that will (eventually) take me to 12 different cities (or towns) in just two weeks. As some of you know, one of the really exciting things that my company does is represent Mr & Mrs Smith, arguably the coolest and best boutique and luxury hotel collection/association. We help this awesome group suss out hotels here in Asia. This trip, while terrifically exciting, is also exhausting.
My colleague D and I, plus T, our wacky Krav Maga expert-actress-and-soon-to-be-stunt-woman-interpreter, started our journey across Japan on the 13th of this month. We’ve spent no more than one night per place — a pace which T has been complaining is simply nuts, especially when she’s slowly trailing behind D and me in a crowded terminal. Each morning, we rise early and head to either the train station or the airport. Most of the first part of each day has been spent moving from place to place. By the time we reach our destination, we have just enough time for a quick meeting and a couple of hours of frantic exploration/site-seeing.
So far, we’ve seen some pretty stunning properties in Nagano, Yamagata, and the Izu peninsula. On Friday, we travelled from Hakone to Kyoto for a night. Yesterday, we spent the day in Osaka, and I am currently writing this from outside Kochi, in Shikoku. Of course, I’m not about to tell you which hotels I’ve been seeing. To discover these super-cool, stylish and truly amazing properties, you’ll have to wait for them to get listed on Mr & Mrs Smith, which should hopefully happen over the next few months. I will say that my favourite so far has been an ultra-sexy and pared down ryokan designed by Kengo Kuma. In second place is a chic, masculine, designer hotel in Kyoto.
It was nice to be in Kyoto, if only for an afternoon. In the little bit of free time I had, I ran over to Ippodo, one of Japan’s oldest tea houses, to pick up some green tea, as well as some genmaicha, for my wife S (who adores high quality green teas). Up the road, I also discovered the cutest little pastry shop. I was later told by a new friend that Ghost is very new but that it is also already becoming quite famous. When I first saw the entrance, I couldn’t resist going in. Honestly, I had no idea what it was. I thought maybe it could be a boutique or a bar. I just thought the entrance was kind of cool.
I was thrilled to discover Ghost was a very small and very cute little pastry shop and cafe (note, it is standing room only). Two very sweet sales girls tried to explain their range of mousse cakes and baked goods to me. The thing that struck me as really interesting was that almost everything here seemed to be spiked with alcohol. Of the 5 or 6 gorgeous mousse cakes they showed me, only one was alcohol free. Their most popular cake, they told me, was the one spiked with malibu rum. Since I had another meeting later that day, I opted to try the one cake that had no booze.
It was also the one that looked the coolest (to me at least). The girls said that this was also a very good cake. It was a tea-chocolate cake, one of them explained as she carefully took one out of her very small fridge for me.
The cake was also delicious. The glaze was sinfully light and rich. The filling was chocolate mousse, sponge cake, and a surprising yummy mango mousse in the heart of the tiny confection. It was so good that I couldn’t resist buying one of the same cakes plus a malibu rum one for T and D to try later that evening. (D reports that the malibu rum one was even better.)
While in Kyoto, I also (finally) had the chance to go to the original branch of Restaurant Yonemura. Regular readers will know that my dinner in the Tokyo branch was the culinary highlight of my trip to Japan’s capital last Spring. Having dinner at Yonemura on Friday was wonderful. It could only have been better if my darling wife S was with me. Sadly, she wasn’t free to join me on this work trip. Last night, I returned to another favourite. D and I had dinner at Momen in Osaka.
I still have another week in Japan. I’ll try and post another update soon. In the meantime, if anyone is heading to Kyoto any time soon, here is the address for Ghost.
667-1 Kuen-In Mae-Cho
Tel: +81 75 222 8266