Boston-based interior designer, tastemaker and photographer Frank Roop is an avid traveler who looks for creative inspiration wherever he goes, from the flea markets of Paris to the tile work in Morocco. We caught up with him after a three-week trip to Asia, where he attended a five-day Indian wedding in Bali and fell in love with the beauty and simplicity of Kyoto, this year's winner of the T+L World's Best City Award. Here, a few of his travel tips and photographs for the classic Japanese city.
Q: What did you love most about Kyoto?
A: I loved the interaction of the traditional architecture with its gardens and landscape. Many of temples, palaces and private homes are open air to a water feature such as a pond, a natural monolithic stone, gracefully trimmed foliage, or artfully raked pea stone. Kyoto’s many historic sites have a unique dialogue between nature and shelter. Our only regret is that we needed more time, we were there two days and I would recommend at least four. You need time to sit on a tatami matt in a temple and contemplate the natural beauty that is framed just beyond the structure.
Q: What treasures did you find in Kyoto?
A: I would have to say this isn’t a real shopping city, unless you are a cross-dressing Geisha want-to-be. My wife, Sharon, had a really cool pair of custom Geta wood sandals made. She chose a turquoise thong with bleached light wood. Classic!
Q: Your photos of Kyoto capture detail beautifully. What details do you remember most?
A: The Bamboo Forest was something I really will never forget. The thickness of the trunks of these giant trees combined with the light filtering through almost looked like it was created for a stage set. There is a curved path that carves its way through the trees and up the hillside that adds to the rhythm of this natural spectacle. It was absolutely one of the most beautiful and surreal sites I have ever seen.
Q: Tell us a little about this new style of photography, what you call "Speedscapes"?
A: As we traveled on the super high speed bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto I leaned on the window and watched the world wiz by. As the train sped up faster and faster, I focused on the foreground and noticed stripes form from the blur of hyper-velocity. I wondered what it would look like through my camera lens. So I started shooting to capture the abstract stripes with the contrast of the landscaped on the horizon. I thought the result was an interesting narrative about the contrast of speed with tranquility.
Adrien Glover is the deputy digital editor at Travel + Leisure.