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Aman’s secret garden retreat in Kyoto has opened

Aman Kyoto is a forested resort that offers serenity, proximity to Unesco sites and unique local experiences.

Aman’s third destination in Japan is the Aman Kyoto, which opened recently on Nov 1. The forest retreat at the foot of Mount Hidari Daimonji is both secluded, yet within walking distance of Kinkaku-ji Temple (an Unesco World Heritage Site), and close to the centre of Kyoto. Not only is the resort surrounded by a 32ha expanse of forest and garden, natural spring water flows beneath it as well, which is something of a rarity. Amid the verdant greens, healing waters and peaceful surrounds, guests are more than likely to step away feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

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The Aman Kyoto is designed by Kerry Hill Architects, the designer of both Aman Tokyo and Amanemu at Ago Bay. The resort consists of a series of standalone latticed pavilions that pay homage to the traditional Japanese ryokan inn, each serving as a window to spectacular natural surroundings. The garden is bordered by a small stream and a wooded hill. Trees spanning cedar, cypress, camellia and Japanese maple change colour through the year, in a beautiful reflection of the seasons. The garden is cleverly designed to self-irrigate through the collection of rainwater via the site’s numerous caves and water tunnels. The structures here, including the Aman Spa, have been designed with characteristic elegance and sensitivity to complement the surrounds.

(Related: Amanemu, Japan, opens in time for sakura season)

Traditional onsen bathing facilities are available, including treatments that feature Japan’s plentiful natural apothecary – such as Kyoto green tea, tamba kuromame (black beans), local sake and cold-pressed tsubaki (camellia) oil. The Aman Kyoto experience covers Zazen meditation, the physical practice of shiatsu and acupuncture too. The benefits of a serene setting are also fully explored – guests can experience guided yoga and meditation, as well as shinrin-yoku, the healing art of forest bathing or “taking in the forest atmosphere”.

(Related: 4 luxurious nature-filled hideaways in obscure destinations)

From this peaceful haven, guests can journey into Japan’s ancient imperial capital; after all, Aman Kyoto is surrounded by no fewer than 17 awe-inspiring Unesco World Heritage sites, all within easy reach. Aman Kyoto also offers uniquely curated Aman Journeys that give access to cultural encounters that may be out of reach for most travellers. Guests can choose to visit a traditional ochaya (teahouse) and spend time with a geiko (the Kyoto term for geisha) or a maiko apprentice; or have a session with an ikebana expert to transform seasonal flowers into structurally magnificent arrangements of colour and form.

Besides dining at Taka-an, the resort’s Japanese restaurant, there are other epicurean experiences offered by Aman Kyoto. Guests are also encouraged to enjoy a personalised picnic hamper in the gardens and forested grounds, which are full of serene spots.

(Related: Why Japanese diners tip with origami art made from chopstick sleeves)

Aman Kyoto offers six guest pavilions housing 26 guest rooms. Set within easy reach of Kyoto’s most important sites, Aman Kyoto is a one-hour drive from Osaka International Airport, a two-hour drive from Kansai International Airport, and a 30-minute drive from Kyoto Station.