A Local’s Guide to Kyoto, Japan

Textile guru Masataka Hosoo on all the places to eat and drink in his hometown.
Arashiyama Kyoto Japan

Masataka Hosoo is the 12th-generation head of his family’s bespoke textile-and-kimono house, HOSOO. His home is the traditional artisanal capital of Japan, Kyoto, and as a local whose family goes back hundreds of years in the city, he knows it maybe better than anyone else on the ground.

This interview is part of The World Made Local, a global collaboration between the seven international editions of Condé Nast Traveler in which 100 people in 100 countries tell us why their home turf should be your next destination.

Tell us about your connection to Kyoto and Japan.

My connection to Kyoto stretches back to the 17th century. As the 12th generation and current CEO of my family business with our roots in traditional kimono and obi weavers in the Nishijin area of Kyoto, I am a part of one of the many cultural traditions that can be found in Kyoto and Japan, such as the Japanese tea ceremony and Japanese art of flower arrangement. As the old capital of Japan, Kyoto was the center of the arts and commerce, where the latest trends and innovations came into bloom. As we continue through the 21st century, I would like to lead HOSOO in the continual pursuit of the answer to the question “What is beauty?” by combining traditional dyeing and weaving Nishijin techniques with the latest technologies.

We’re in Kyoto. Plan our day of eating.

For breakfast, a great place to start the day is Tan, located on a stream side in the Higashiyama district, which serves seasonal Japanese cuisine. For lunch, restaurant Itsutsu serves soba and other Japanese dishes. Before heading to dinner, why not visit the rooftop bar K36, at the Hotel Seiryu, located near Kiyomizu shrine? You can have a drink with 360-degree views of Kyoto during twilight. Dinner is a culinary experience at Tempura Matsu, located in the Arashiyama district in west Kyoto. It serves traditional Japanese cuisine in courses with the ultimate dish of tempura. A true example of Kyoto culture at its finest, which is why it is a popular place to dine with local chefs.

Masataka Hosoo

Jérémie Souteyrat

What should we buy and where should we shop?

Rokuroku Dou Art & Crafts gallery is a place to appreciate the craftsmanship of contemporary arts and crafts with a main focus on ceramic works. And Gallery Yamahon is a place to go for contemporary arts and crafts of Japan.

Where do we go for art?

Founded in 1984, Dumb Type is an artist collective out of Kyoto. Members are multi-disciplined and blend classic art forms with modern technology.

Any happening neighborhoods to check out?

The Okazaki district is centered on the recently reopened Kyoto City KYOCERA Museum of Art, and its surrounding public spaces have been holding performing-arts shows and weekend markets.

What excites you about Kyoto right now?

Kyoto has a history of more than 1,200 years. It is filled with World Heritage Sites, traditions and customs, cuisine, and craftsmanship that have influenced all corners of Japan. In contrast to its historical past, it continues to be a creative city in the present day, working toward bringing such traditions and craftsmanship to the rest of the world.

And what is your all-time favorite spot that you return to again and again?

Hotel the-Mitsui Kyoto. If you are staying at Hotel the-Mitsui, located on the west side of Nijo Castle, please take full advantage of the thermal-spring spa, which is only open to staying guests.

When you travel, what do you miss most about your home country?

Kelp and bonito dashi.

Follow Masataka Hosoo on Instagram @masataka_hosoo