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Japanese Whiskey Meets Incense Wood at Hoshinoya Kyoto’s Monko Bar

2018.02.09

Hoshinoya Kyoto Monko Bar
Until February 28 this year, the Hoshinoya Kyoto in Arashiyama is offering a special activity that marries Japanese whiskey with fragrant incense woods: “Monko Bar.” Monko Bar was inspired by the traditional Japanese parlor game of monko, popularized by the fourteenth-century Kyoto aristocracy, in which fragrances are released by warming aromatic wood for the appreciation and edification of participants. Literally meaning “listening to incense,” monko encourages those present to focus their attention and take their time enjoying the fragrances offered. In the Warring States period of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, monko was even used by generals as a way of relaxing before going into battle.

Monko Bar is a fresh take on monko for the modern era, conceived as a way to help guests more deeply savor Japanese whiskey, which is highly prized around the globe.

Hoshinoya Kyoto Monko Bar: Hand close-up
At Monko Bar, guests first enjoy a tasting of three kinds of Japanese whiskey, comparing the unique qualities of each. Japan produces a surprisingly wide variety of whiskeys for such a small country. Fragrances are particularly distinctive, as these depend on everything from the use of blending (if any) to the method and stage of maturation. Once each guest has selected their favorite Japanese whiskey from the tasting, they can get to know it more deeply while enjoying a monko session.

Hoshinoya Kyoto Monko Bar: Whiskey tasting 2
The incense woods used in monko are rich in resins that have formed and matured over long years, resulting in full yet delicate aromas. Monko participants close their eyes and concentrate on their sense of smell, striving to shut out all other information and stimuli in order to heighten their sensitivity to those delicate aromas as they fill the air. (Source: Yamadamatsu Incense-wood.)
After the monko is over, participants are free to remain in the bar to chat over more whiskey.

Monko Bar is an exciting way for those unfamiliar with Japanese whiskey to experience its appeal for themselves. If you’re visiting Hoshinoya Kyoto this month, be sure to drop by!

 

Monko Bar
Dates: Until February 28, 2018
Location: Salon & Bar Kura, Hoshinoya Kyoto
Participants: Hoshinoya Kyoto guests only
Time: From 9:00 p.m. (up to six guests, all starting together)
Reservations: By 8:00 p.m. on the same day
Price: 5,000 JPY (excluding tax and 10% service fee) Note: Not included in room fee
Includes: Tasting of three kinds of Japanese whiskey, one monko session, one Japanese whiskey
Note: The Japanese whiskey and fragrances presented may depend on availability.

Hoshinoya Kyoto
Located in Arashiyama, a favored villa location of the nobles of Japan’s Heian period a thousand years ago, Hoshinoya Kyoto is a riverside resort a short boat ride up the Oi River from Togetsukyo Bridge. Enjoy rooms reflecting the artisanal traditions still thriving in Kyoto, partake of meals that vividly bring out the “five flavors” of Japanese cuisine, and enjoy stunning landscapes in each of the four seasons in this tranquil retreat from the everyday world.
Address: 11-2 Arashiyama Genrokuzan-cho, Nishikyo, Kyoto 〒616-0007
Inquiries: +81 (0)570-073-066
https://hoshinoya.com/kyoto/en/