Omotenashi or hospitality, is an expression that describes how Japan expresses its soul and generosity through its people.
The ethos of omotenashi has been passed down from generation to generation by the Japanese. I have witnessed it first hand throughout the duration of my trip in Kyoto. Around every corner of this ancient city, you will be confronted with courteous and friendly people who are dutifully going about their daily routine.
Despite how busy Kyoto is – regardless of the time of day – there is a calmness in the air that you can’t put your finger on. Having spoken to many of the locals, it immediately became apparent to me that this calm, warm feeling I get when walking around Kyoto is simply a reflection of the people who live within it.
I have been introduced to some fantastic eateries and local hotspots that I would never have had the opportunity to visit had it not been for the people who went out of their way to share their evenings with me.
Being led along the backstreets near the city’s famous Nikishi food market on a cold winter’s night gave me an overwhelming sense of truly being “off the beaten track”. We stopped beside a small doorway amongst the ramshackle buildings that were awkwardly connected to one another. Like all hidden gems, this alcove didn’t look like much from the outside. We dipped our heads through the doorway and were greeted with a packed room full of Japanese locals with all sorts of culinary delights presented to them at their tables.
Overall, a fantastic trip that I feel has deepened my respect for such an amazing nation people even further. I can’t wait to return.