Usually my students and I have our year end celebrations before Christmas but this year we decided to reserve a tea house on the grounds of the Kyoto Gyoen for Jan 31st. The Shusuitei Tea House has 2 levels and overlooks a pond and garden. If you require a quiet place to unwind, this is it. Fortunately our tea event was shorter and more casual than the standard one, which was a genuine blessing for my knees. Rental rates are very reasonable for a taste of Kyoto history and it`s spotless and well maintained. I hope to have more events here.
Afterwards a few of us went for a soak at the nearby bathouse. I`m a regular at my local, `Katsura-yu` but there are many sento`s throughout the city that I often drop in to relax after hiking or playing sports. I wish we had them back in Canada. Perfect for easing any aches and pains and to meet others in the neighborhood. Bring your business cards! Nowadays `supersento`s`, equipped with many more facilities are popular, however I like to support the traditional, local, family owned bath houses that people walk or ride their bikes to and are sadly decreasing in number as more people have their baths at home in private and socialize more through cell phones and computers. For a sample of a unique, old Kyoto style bath house make sure you try out Funaoka Onsen. You won`t just meet other Japanese, more likely people from all over the world.