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At the high end of hotels there are basically three: the business hotel, the traditional and the boutique. Of the three I would prefer least to stay in a boutique.

Invariably they offer small rooms and the Cross, where we are staying in Kyoto, is no exception – basically a big bed taking up 80% of the space. At least it has the warmed-up loo. On this one the console is in English and I’ve worked out how to release jets of hot water from below.

I’m always staggered how seemingly intelligent people cannot follow simple instructions. We were told to convene in the lobby at 8-15 for the tour.

Wayne Smith wanted a coffee at Starbucks so he led off a group. The result was that one couple was left behind for the first visit to a rock garden. Contact was made with them but the taxi driver went to the Hard Rock cafe and – after that – the Japanese guide gave them the luncheon destination, so the schedule changed to accommodate them. The tour guide and taxi driver were held responsible but the lady was late in the first place as she left her purse in the breakfast room.

I rather take the view that once you have seen one Buddhist or Shinto shrine you’ve seen them all.

However few things are a serene as a Japanese garden and those in Kyoto are delightful.

Indeed Kyoto with its forests, lakes and waterways is a city of staggering beauty.

We ate a ghastly Buddhist vegan lunch and afterwards we decided to forsake the afternoon trip to the Golden Pavilion as Daffers had obtained at the unlikely hour of 5.00pm a reservation at Kyoto’s best known restaurant Roan Kokonoi.

We had extreme difficulty in finding it as all street numbers and names are all in Japanese characters.

It shows the efficiency of Japan as, as soon as we were late, messages were relayed to us via the concierge from the restaurant.

The 12 course tasting menu was superb especially the barracuda wrapped in cedar wood.

Incidentally it’s the pollen of cedar that can be so irritating, which is the reason so many Japanese wear a face mask.

I will leave Daffers to review this cornucopia of flavours. The service was superb with a helpful English-speaking waiter designated without any of this lengthy and pretentious explanation nonsense you get in similar Michelin starred establishments in Western Europe.

We had an example of mispronounciation when our guide was demonstrating Zen Buddhism rhetoric by a clap. Except it came out as crap as in “What am I doing when I crap?”Bob Tickler quipped “ Don’t worry, I wont tell your wife .”

Neil Rosen told me he met a Japanese film reviewer and it took him some time to fathom that his favourite British film was Lollens of Alabia.

About Nancy Bright-Thompson

A widely-respected travel editor, Nancy is a past president of the Guild of Travel Writers (GTW). She and her husband Phil now run a horse sanctuary in East Sussex. More Posts