How to Do Kyoto with CHUFY’S Designer Sofía Sanchez de Betako

How to Do Kyoto with CHUFY’S Designer Sofía Sanchez de Betako

Graphic designer and creative directo Sofía Sanchez de Betak is a seasoned traveller. Considering her peripatetic way of life – which has garnered her a 219k Instagram following it’s unsurprising that she quotes travel as her greatest source of inspiration.

a penchant for souvenirs and a razor-sharp sartorial eye to
match, Sofia (nicknamed Chufy) has developed her namesake brand on
travel and style. Her capsule collection, CHUFY x The Luxury
Collection, melds traditional craftsmanship with a touch of
modernity; patterns and silhouettes have an allegorical quality.
Inspired by her travels in Japan, where she experienced The Luxury
Collection’s hotels, including Suiran in Kyoto
and The Prince Gallery in Tokyo,
Sofia’s latest edit includes ready-to-wear, sleepwear and

Her fascination and connection with Japanese culture runs deep;
so enchanted was Sofia by the country’s whimsical cherry
that she named her daughter Sakura. Clad in
hand-embroidered bomber jackets, Sofia took us on a whirlwind tour
of Kyoto to discover the best places to eat, drink, shop and stay
in the city.

How has the city inspired your collection?

Staying at Suiran was a huge inspiration. The traditional ryokan
style of the property juxtaposed with the more contemporary look of
The Prince Gallery allowed me to create a collection that struck a
balance between the Japanese history that I love and the new shapes
of a modern metropolis.

What does the collection say about Kyoto?

While Kyoto is a big city, the ryokan-style architecture is
something that make it incredibly unique. It’s a city rich in
tradition and I wanted that to be apparent in the collection.

What inspired the patterns in the collection?

I used different places for inspiration, from vintage matchboxes
to trees and postcards.

What are your favourite Japanese clothing brands?

Minotaur, Uniqlo, Very Nerdy, Undercover and Sacai.

What can’t we you know about Kyoto without visiting?

Kyoto has amazing secret bars and restaurants hidden behind
closed doors. The last time we were there, we went up into
office-like buildings in the middle of the night and started
opening doors. They were all local bars, “Japanese only!” they
would say – until we managed to get into one. It was an
unforgettable night.

How has regional illustration and craftsmanship impacted your

The patterns in this collection are inspired by vintage cutouts
that I collected throughout my travels. I wanted them to be bold
and fresh like The Luxury Collection Hotels. I presented a bunch of
ideas and sketches to the brand and it was instant love. I also
kept a personal collection of matchboxes from Japanese bars in
between 1920-1950. I used these illustrated boxes to start mood
boards for the prints.

Best time of year to visit?

My favourite time of year to visit is sakura (cherry blossom
season) which starts in January
and lasts through the spring. I named my daughter Sakura since this
time in Japan is so incredibly beautiful.

Favourite hotels to stay at in the city?

Suiran– the location and ambiance are

What’s the best way to explore a new city?

Putting down the map, exploring by instinct and probably getting
lost. Japan is so safe that you can go into every dark alley
without feeling uncomfortable.

Where should we go for after-dinner drinks?

In Kyoto, I love El Coyote Latin bar, and any hidden bars. In
Tokyo, La Jetee in Golden Gay has a lot of interesting bars. Piano
Bar is a classic, while Grandfather’s Bar has great music and
late-night drinks. I always order Japanese whiskey or
jumaidaigipnjo sake.

Where should we go for a great meal?

Omakase everywhere. I love meeting a great sushi chef and
letting him surprise me; I tend to thank him for every nigiri,
expressing how much I appreciate each exquisite bite.

In Kyoto, the Arashiyama Yoshimura is just down the street from
Suiran hotel. It has a beautiful garden with views to the river. Be
sure to order the noodle soup.

A dining experience that my husband Alex and I always like to do
while in Kyoto is a romantic dinner on one of the boats on the
Hozugawa River. You can hire a private chef to prepare a meal while
you take in the views around you. There’s also a great little
restaurant only a five-minute walk from the Suiran called
Arashiyama Yoshimura where you can look out onto the Katsura River
while you eat.

If we had just 24 hours in the city what should we do?

Get a geisha makeover and go for a walk around the Forrest and

Tell us a secret spot only locals know about…

The Shiga Prefecture, a beautiful area to the east of Kyoto with
striking views and a distinct local culture.

What areas of the city do you spend most of your time in?

Kyoto’s geisha district of Gion. For me, it’s the ultimate
Japanese destination.

Where should we go on a day trip from the city?

Definitely Shiga Prefecture for ceramics that are wholly unique
to the region.

Where are you going on your next adventure?


Finally, what’s in your SUITCASE for a trip to Kyoto?

A camera, kimono and comfortable shoes.

Discover More
Designer Maria Skappel Holzweiler’s Insider Guide to Oslo