When traveling with family, trying to balance key activities such as sightseeing and cultural experiences with more interactive work and fun is always a situation parents grapple with. Fortunately, some luxury hotels are so forward thinking about the challenges of family travel, especially in the pandemic and post-pandemic world, that they’ve done their homework for their guests.
EVERYTHING IS NEARBY IN KYOTO
The Ritz Carlton Kyoto is perfectly located for family holidays. Right on the banks of the Kamogawa River, it’s a short walk to the shopping areas and the historic sights. At the same time, the wonderful biking lane of Kyoto is literally under its nose, with a little path down. Guests can borrow a bicycle from the concierge team and head down a little path to enjoy one of the most pleasant biking experiences in Kyoto.
At the same time, the hotel management has brought in for guests some of the best guardians of Kyoto culture for some real hands-on immersive experiences. I can’t even begin to over-emphasize how enjoyable these are, even for adults, and how nicely they round out a family holiday in one of the most cultured cities of the world.
LEARNING THE CRAFTS OF JAPAN
During our stay at the Ritz Carlton Kyoto, we created rock gardens under the tutelage of a master traditional gardener. Then we learned how to make the famous Kyogashi sweets of Kyoto from a fifth generation sweets maker.
This set-up was especially appreciated during our visit, which was during the pandemic, and I suspect it will be a safe and preferred option of many families for some time to come. It allows you to have the best of all worlds. You can learn an ancient craft with a real professional without leaving the safety of the Ritz Carlton Kyoto.
HOW TO MAKE JAPANESE SWEETS
For our lesson, we headed to the basement where one of the smaller function rooms had been turned into a classroom for us. All the ingredients we needed for making Kyogashi were laid out prettily on the table, and our teacher, whose family runs a historic sweets shop patronized by tea ceremony practitioners, was well prepared to teach a foreign family the secrets of his family trade.
In all, we made four sweets each. Of course, as Japanese sweets are diametrically different from Western sweets, we needed a change of mindset to appreciate the nuances of these small but exquisitely made edible works of art made only with bean paste, sugar and flour. Where were the cream and butter we had grown so used to in the Western world? This new perspective was good not only for the children, but also for the adults.
SWEET ENDINGS TO LESSONS IN KYOTO
The Ritz Carlton Kyoto team thought of everything. At the end of the session, we each had beautiful boxes to place our creations in, so that we all felt we’d really made Kyogashi. There are many cultural experiences organized by luxury hotels around the world. However the ones that leave you with a feeling of cultural authenticity at the end are the ones worth booking. And worth traveling to Kyoto for.