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Kyoto Insider

Calgarian Kevin Kent, owner and founder of Knifewear, takes us to his favourite Kyoto spots.

Kevin KentPhoto: Y.Shimizu

Kevin Kent started out selling Japanese knives to fellow Calgary chefs from his backpack, mostly to combat his own frustrations with the lack of top-quality kitchen blades available in North America. Now the owner of five Knifewear stores across Canada, he heads to Kyoto a few times a year to source new product and research the second installment of Springhammer, a lovingly obsessive documentary about Japanese blacksmiths.

Nishiki MarketPhoto: JNTO

Nishiki Market

This food Disneyland has vibrant Kyoto-style fermented pickles, skewered boiled eggs wrapped in salty octopus and fresh yuzu juice on ice. There's a place where you can make shichimi togarashi (a seven-spice condiment) by adding customized amounts of each spice, and then pound it up and sprinkle it over a bowl of udon.
Nishikikoji-dori, Nakagyo-ku (between Teramachi-dori and Takakura-dori)



A wall of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a lush garden follows the mantra of ichigo ichie, meaning to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The 480-year-old restaurant serves kaiseki cuisine (traditional Japanese food – no sushi!), and if you're lucky, the host might invite you to write your name on a leaf in the front garden.
509 Gion-machi Minami-gawa, Higashiyama-ku, 075-605-0074

Kiyomizu TemplePhoto: JTA / JNTO

Kiyomizu Temple

This temple sits halfway up a mountain and dates back to the eighth century. It's really peaceful around 8 a.m. when you're by yourself, but it does fill up with field trips, so go early. If you stand on the viewing platforms and look across the way, you can see another temple that appears to float on a cloud of treetops.
1-294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, 075-551-1234

Sherry Bar Spanish Soul Venga

It's a Spanish restaurant run by a Japanese chef, and it has the most incredible smells. When my buddy and I found it, the place was packed, so we just sat on the stoop and enjoyed the aroma for a while. I know it's the best restaurant in the world — I smelled it.
671-1 Shioyacho, Nakagyo-ku, 075-213-5760



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