By Yuliya Boda
Be comfortable with yourself. Curate your world. Give thanks for what comes in and what goes out. In a Zen garden in the heart of Kyoto, I was able to create my world, one of beauty, peace and graciousness. This is not make-believe, but in Japan, it is like everything that is heavy and burdensome has been lifted. You can forget your umbrella that your lost in the corner store, knowing it would be there waiting for you the next day. You can be lost in a place that you have never been before, and have strangers come and become your friends.
The Hyatt Regency in Kyoto is so beautiful and calming, you almost want to cry. It is like a private sanctuary, whether it is a moment of reflection from a view of the stone garden, or being immersed in a rich and timeless culture with an exquisitely dressed geisha.
The trees and the gardens in Kyoto have been there for hundreds of years. When I am looking at the burrowed view of the mountains and contemplating life or just breathing in the moment, I become part of the practice that the philosophers and scholars have done since the Tale of Genji. Whether you are at Ryoanji temple, or here at the Hyatt, the elegance of Kyoto immerses you, touching every sense of your being. It is tempting to try and dissect the meaning of the rocks and trees in the garden, but rather, I invite you to just take it all in, without scrutiny or judgement.
A few millennia ago, before Kyoto had a name, it was already a place of beauty and delight. There were no temples or rice fields, just the bamboo groves, the wind rustling the leaves, the trickle from the stream. Shinto, as it is called today, did not even have a name either. It was just, the way of the gods. People knew there was a higher power, and gave thanks for the sun, the moon and the stars. They thanked the harvests and the food, the water that sustained them. Everything, from the mountains to the sea, had meaning and personality.
Somehow, Hyatt Regency Kyoto had distilled all the elements of Japan, including its appreciation and respect of nature, into a calming sanctuary. If you can, make your way to Riraku Spa, which incorporates both Eastern and Western practices, such as acupuncture, aromatherapy and Shiatsu. They also offer a fermented Hinoki powder bath, made from trees grown in Yoshino, Nara.
At the Hyatt, even everyday rituals, like taking a bath, is filled with comfort and luxury as you sink into the warmth of the water while overlooking the garden.
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I knew my future was destined to be with Japan the moment I flew from Sydney to experience the atmospheric lane ways of Kyoto last century. From the skies above Sapporo to the old charm of Naha's alleyways, I have been enchanted by the beauty and variety on every island. I am humbled to have met many distinguished people in my role as Regional Partner, especially the national living treasures of Japan, such as the doll maker to the Imperial Family. From sushi cooking classes to Ninja training grounds I welcome your ideas on what you like from JapanTravel.com. Please visit us in Kyoto or Osaka and have some green tea or sake with us.