|Moss garden attached to Sakae room in Tawaraya ryokan hotel.|
I looked it up on the Internet and found a very good explanation. "Omotenashi is a traditional Japanese way of hospitality with the most dedicated and exquisite manners. It creates an ambiance of tranquility and relaxation where guests will experience unforgettable moments at ease.“
So, where can we experience the most refined way of omotenashi in Japan? In my opinion, it’s at Tawaraya ryokan hotel and I headed for Kyoto to stay there in the beginning of autumn. Tawaraya has 300 years of history and is one of the oldest and most prestigious hotels in Kyoto. The name Tawaraya is known all over the country, even though it’s just a small hotel with 18 guest rooms.
Good hotels usually offer us clean rooms, good food and comfortable sleep; but Tawaraya does more than just fulfilling such basic needs. The Japanese, since ancient times have always been sensitive to the changes of the seasons. When we stay at this unique hotel, we can become more sensitive to this.
Toshi Sato, the owner of Tawaraya said in her book; “I think that the identity of the Japanese is an affection for the changes of the seasons in every aspect of our lives, such as clothing, food and interior design. The cultural succession is nothing but just continuing seasonal events regularly.”
When I stayed at Tawaraya, there was a Shoen Uemura’s hanging scroll that represented autumn maple leaves. Along with it, Japanese pampas grass and toad lily arrangement was combined on tokonoma (alcove where art or flowers are displayed). Besides, a lot more very important fine art pieces and flower arrangements that related to autumn were displayed various locations in the building. It reminded me that a hint of autumn was in the air.
to my eyes it is
not clear that autumn has come
but the chill whisper
of the invisible wind
startles me to awareness
This is a poem that Toshiyuki Fujiwara composed in Heian period (794-1185).
I was able to feel the essence of this poem while I was staying at the hotel. It was a very unique and important time for me to reaffirm my cultural background and to understand aesthetic of the Japanese.
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