Kyoto is Japan’s cultural and historical heart.
Kyoto is Japan’s cultural and historical heart.
Image: Supplied

All eyes will be on the tiny Pacific island of Japan this September as it plays host to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Land Rover will be there too, as global partner to the world’s biggest rugby spectacle and proud partner to our own boys in green and gold. Before the Springboks head off to the land of the Rising Sun, why not plan your own visit? Because we’re Wanted, we’ve curated the coolest, smartest and most unique itinerary for you – taking inspiration from the Range Rover Sport.

Designed for beauty and for performance, the fuel-efficient sports SUV’s technology is leagues ahead of the rest, and it is just as comfortable cruising around the city as it is negotiating tricky terrain. 

In this second instalment of a three-part series, we celebrate cultural heritage, world firsts and technology.

Located in the Kansai region, Japan’s cultural and historical heart, Kyoto City has twice been voted the world’s best city to visit by Travel + Leisure magazine’s World’s Best Awards. The city is characterised by its Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, and ryokans — and is also considered the birthplace of geisha culture. 

1. ANCIENT HISTORY | SPEND A NIGHT IN A RYOKAN

One would be remiss not to stay for at least one night in a ryokan when visiting Japan. And Kyoto is reportedly the best place to experience this authentic Japanese inn. Usually family-run, modern-day ryokans are a nod to old tradition and have a history dating back to around 700 CE (the exact year seems to vary between sources). It’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in an ancient culture that’s all about making guests feel like they are staying over at a friend’s home. You would typically partake in a slow and elaborate multi-course meal, take a hot spring bath (onsen), don a robe, and sleep on a straw-mat floor. Pick your perfect hotel from more than 30 luxury ryokans in the portfolio at The Ryokan Collection.

View of the interior of a traditional ryokan.
View of the interior of a traditional ryokan.
Image: 123RF/FRANCESCO DAZZI

2. FIRST OF ITS KIND | KYOTO DISTILLERY 

Founded by Marcin Miller and David Croll in 2015, Kyoto Distillery, located in the south of Kyoto City, is Japan’s first dedicated artisanal gin distillery. Ki No Bi, meaning “the beauty of the seasons”, is a dry gin created with Japanese botanicals such as yellow yuzu, hinoki ( Japanese cypress) wood chips, bamboo, gyokuro (green tea), green sansho (Japanese peppercorn), and berries.

The gin has a rice-spirit base with water sourced from the famous sake-brewing district, Fushimi. While there are many editions and expressions of Ki No Bi, earlier this year, it partnered with champagne house Henri Giraud to create Ki No Bi Edition G — considered the first gin aged in champagne barriques. Edition G retails for 10,000 yen (roughly R1,300) per limited-release bottle. 

3. BUILDING A SUPER-SMART FUTURE SOCIETY 5.0 

In 2018, Keidanren, the Japan Business Federation, published a position paper setting out its goals for Japan’s development. Titled “Society 5.0”, it proposes that society is moving into a fifth stage of evolution — the development of a super-smart society — similar to the fourth industrial revolution in SA. The first four stages are hunting, agrarian, industrial, and information societies. In a super-smart society, people’s way of life is transformed. For instance, drones deliver online purchases, doctor- patient consultations are conducted via video, and artificial intelligence and robotics run citizens’ daily domestic lives.

As a society, Japan is increasingly committed to the Society 5.0 vision, viewing it as an opportunity to shake up its somewhat stagnant economy and address societal issues such as depopulation and ageing.

WATCH | Society 5.0 highlights:

Themed “Designing Future Society for our Lives”, Expo 2025 will be held in Osaka. World Expo themes are typically designed to raise awareness of and find responses to the universal challenges of our time — and share them with the world. 

Visit the Land Rover website for more information. Join the #DrivenBeyond conversation on Twitter and Instagram.

This article was paid for by Land Rover, proud vehicle partner to the Springboks.

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