In the shadow of Higashiyama Mountain in the temple district of Japan’s ancient capital, a modern oasis of serenity and style opens the doors to a city that is both beautiful and mysterious, breath-taking and inspiring.
This is Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto, secluded amid a five acre 12th century pond garden, yet just moments from key centres of business, culture, history and natural wonders.
“Kyoto is one of the world’s most alluring cities, but she can be shy in revealing her secrets - our mission at Four Seasons is to help our guests discover her wonders and experience all the city has to offer,” said general manager Alex Porteous, who leads the 270-person team at the intimate hotel with 123 rooms and 57 Hotel Residences in the historic Higashiyama District, close to downtown.
To help guests immerse themselves in Kyoto’s traditional culture as well as its cutting edge innovation, Four Seasons invents the Experience Creator.
Hana Morioka was born in the city, and remembers seeing Shakusuien, the ikeniwa (pond garden) as a child, long before the Hotel was built around it.
Her mandate is to secure the many keys to the city that will take Four Seasons guests places even locals don’t know about.
“We have prepared many surprises already, and I am excited to begin putting together custom programs that satisfy each guest’s personal curiosities and interests,” said Hana.
Kyoto experiences may include a genuine Kiyomizu ceramics-making class using traditional techniques, with one’s own handmade pieces shipped home once the intricate process is complete; or lantern making that the whole family can enjoy together.
Guests can have a ninja training session including kuji-in meditation, movement and weaponry.
For the culinary traveller, Four Seasons helps decipher the Japanese palate, and points the way to the city’s most outstanding restaurants.
The amateur chef even has the opportunity to take home a personally monogrammed Aritsugu kitchen knife made by a centuries-old artisan shop that originally crafted swords for the Imperial House of Japan.
For those who wish to explore the city, Four Seasons has developed three rickshaw tours, and Hana – who speaks fluent French as well as Japanese – can also arrange for multi-lingual guides for custom tours by car, rickshaw or foot.
The Spa complex includes sauna, steam and whirlpool; a full-service beauty salon; state-of-the-art fitness centre; and 20 metre indoor pool.
The new Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto is the sister property of Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi, suggesting an opportunity for travellers to experience the ancient and modern capitals of Japan in Four Seasons style.
The company recently announced plans for a third hotel in Japan, in Tokyo’s Otemachi business district.