Thursday, May 17, 2018

Kyoto April 2018

We travelled between Tokyo and Kyoto on the bullet train, shinkansen.  Kyoto station is quite an architectural statement – big and modern.  And then at the very top a green outdoor area with views over the city.

Kyoto station

We had a apartment for our stay, about a 7 minute walk from the station.  There was a metro station nearby so we were ideally set for exploring Kyoto.

Our 1st day we visited the food-hall of a nearby mall and there we picked a random restaurant and had an outstanding lunch.  One local speciality (attributed to nearby Osaka) is Okonomiyaki, a cabbage pancakeThe staff member prepared the mixture at the table, shaped it on the grill built into the table and very seriously told us NOT to touch it.  She repeated it again, looking at Andrew.  10 minutes later she came back and turned the large cake over.  Again she told us very seriously not to touch it. Our other noodle dish we had ordered was prepared in the kitchen and put on the grill beside the pancake.  The final touch was the waitress came back and offered us dried tuna shavings (thank you, no said Andrew) and mayonnaise and a barbecue sauce swirled over the top of the pancake.  VERY good and we returned here once more while in Kyoto.

On our first day we walked to the Kiyomizu-dera temple.  The temple was heavily shrouded with construction materials, but the views from the temple back over Kyoto were lovely.

We took a couple of photos of us  (awwwww…Smile )

At the bottom of the temple were the sacred waters, here people were lining up to catch some of the flow.  It grants wishes – so there were very long queues.  

The crowds outside the temple and nearby were rather overwhelming.  This caused us to change the way we toured for the rest of the days in Kyoto.  The next days we got up early, visited our main destinations before the crowds and returned to the apartment for a rest before doing something in the afternoons.  It was a very good strategy!

crowds One morning we headed to Fushimi Inari shrine.  It is an icon of Kyoto and highly photographed.  Being there with limited people was definitely an advantage. 
Fushimi Inari
Fushimi Inari2

The temple is associated with foxes and there were many, many fox statues dotted around.  Many of these were wearing the red bibs.  
Fushimi Inari.3jpg
One day we visited the Nishiki Market, where there was no shortage of foods laid out.  And quite a few tourists to navigate around.
Nishiki Market
In need of  coffee we found an old-school Japanese cafe, Otafuku coffee.  Located down the stairs from the street, there were about 6 small tables and 4 seats at the bar.  One man was running the show.  Coffees were pour over, no machines here.  

The one thing we didnt know was available when we ordered (and later regretted) was the delicious looking cheesecake and another dessert.  The coffee took a while to come (brewed with care) and we watched with a tinge of jealousy as every other table being presented with a delicious looking sweeties. 
We  had found on day one a great looking cafe a couple minutes away from the apartment.  We duly arrived at 9:15am (they opened at 9:00) we then proceeded to wait 45 minutes for 2 drip coffees.  Admittedly the coffee very good, but the wait was not so great.  Initially it was nice sitting in the spring sunshine on the roadside, but that wore a bit thin.  If a troupe of nursery children, being pushed in trailers, had not gone by and provided some cuteness, we would have walked away – regardless of whether we lost our money or not.  If you have time to spare Murmur coffee house has good coffee. 
Another morning we headed to the Bamboo Forest.  A nice walk and a circuit down by the river
We joined a free walking tour of the Gion district.  We stayed for 10 minutes and the we ‘disappeared’.  The tour leader was good but we aren't good at walking around like sheep, and we wanted to explore in our own way.  In the small streets we did see two genuine Geisha moving between appointments. The influx of tourists has prompted the need for signs explaining what is acceptable behavior in these areas.

And 2 little quirks to finish…note the hand washing above the toilet – a real space saver!  And the brutal translation for what we would call reading glasses…

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