Today, we’re happy to introduce you to Ida from Kyoto, our final Guide of the Month for the year 2019.
1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Ida. I grew up around Västra Götaland County in Sweden and came to Japan in October 2014. I lived in Osaka for 2.5 years, then moved to Kyoto to enroll in a university there. I am a Global Studies major under the department of International Relations. In my free time, I enjoy exploring Kyoto, hanging out with friends and going to fitness classes at my local gym. Since moving to Kyoto, I have really fallen in love with the city, so I actively seek out new and interesting places to explore. My perfect day would be going to a shrine or temple with a beautiful garden (my recent favorites are Ryoanji and Heian Jingu), doing some shopping downtown, and then going for dinner and drinks at a local izakaya.
2. Where are you from? When and what brings you to Japan?
I am from Sweden, the largest country in Scandinavia and the northern region of Europe. I moved to Japan because I wanted to travel while learning something new, so coming here as a language student seemed like the perfect fit. I really enjoyed my time in Osaka as a language student and therefore decided to extend my stay by doing my bachelor’s degree in Japan as well. The reason I have decided to stay in Japan for such a long time is largely due to how well many aspects of the lifestyle here fit me. The food is delicious, the people are friendly without being overly intrusive, and the student life here is exciting yet liberating.
3. How long have you been working with Arigato Japan? And what do you like about your job?
I started working for Arigato Japan in May of 2019, although it feels much longer. I enjoy this job since it gives me the opportunity to meet people from various parts of the world and introduce Japanese culture and food to them. Since I major in Global Studies, I think that intercultural exchange is key to developing intercultural sensitivity, and coming to Japan as a tourist is a great way to get more familiar with the way of life here. I hope that my tours will provide visitors with a pleasant introduction to Japanese food and culture.
4. What is your favorite Japanese food and why?
My favorite Japanese food changes constantly, especially as seasons change. Currently, I am really enjoying teppanyaki, Japanese food cooked on a hotplate. I recently discovered a delicious teppanyaki place close to my house which I have visited frequently. My favorite dishes include kinokoitame (sauteed mushrooms), butakimuchi (pork belly with kimchi) and hotatebatayaki (scallops sauteed in butter). In general, I am a sucker for anything involving mushrooms and seafood.
5. For travelers to Kyoto, what would you recommend visiting and eating? Which of Arigato Japan’s tour would you recommend as well?
I would adjust my recommendations depending on the visitor, but I do think that people should take the time to explore Kyoto’s rich history as Japan’s cultural mecca. Some of my favorite spots for this would be Ginkakuji, Katsura Villa (you need to make reservations online) and Ninna-ji.
As for food, I would recommend trying some of Kyoto’s local delicacies, such as duck, Kyoto-style pickles and sake. If you’re feeling adventurous, I would recommend checking out some of the Italian and French restaurants in Kyoto. Most restaurants will have a Japanese chef cooking Italian or French-inspired cuisine with local Japanese ingredients. This results in delicious fusion-style food that might feel somewhat familiar yet exotic.
For foodies interested in exploring various aspects of Kyoto cuisine, I would recommend our Nishiki Market tour. This tour takes place in “Kyoto’s kitchen,” Nishiki market in the heart of Kyoto city. We sample local foods during the first hours of the tour, then sit down and enjoy a kaiseki (traditional Kyoto-style meal) course prepared by the chef using ingredients from the Nishiki market. Definitely a must-do for any foodie out there!