Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011

10. The Arty East End

Head east of the Kamogawa River, toward Ginkaku-ji and Kyoto University, and Kyoto begins to reveals its artistic side. Besides the extremely worthwhile National Museum of Modern Art, which focuses on local 20th-century artists, this part of town is also home to an impressive array of post Meiji-era fine art at the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, as well as a collection of Japanese art and artifacts spanning the 4th to the 19th centuries at the architecturally sleek Hosomi Museum.

Yet it's the smaller, alternative places that really stand out. Tranq Room, on Shirakawa-dori, combines a small contemporary art gallery and hip, Asian fusion café-bar that sometimes turns into a live music venue. Further up Shirakawa-dori, the laidback A Womb is an even more fashionably understated place for a drink. It stands in its own minimalist grey concrete building and includes a small studio where the owners sell their own anti-brand fashions.