Day of Tourism in Kyoto

November 19, 2016

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope you are having a nice weekend! Today was a day off and it was filled with sightseeing, eating, and shopping around Kyoto. Pure tourism, aside from a tiny bit of work on the morning, but finished before 8am.

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First stop was the Gekkeikan museum to learn about Sake brewing and taste sake. It was underwhelming but for three dollars a solid activity. One thing I learned is that unlike wine, sake shouldn’t age… drink it now. Makes sense because sake is brewed like a beer because it’s made from a starch, like beer, instead of a fruit, like wine. So when people call it “rice wine” it’s very misleading. The museum was crowded, even before 10:00am. On the way there I got a street food breakfast, a hot rice cake with red bean paste, in order not to drink alcohol on an empty stomach.

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After the sake museum I took the train(s–it was not close) to West Kyoto, to the Arashiyama area. First order was a proper meal. I visited a tea house and got a set lunch with rice, pickles, and huge sardines, and so much tea.

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Three different kinds of green tea throughout the meal. They had some books about tea and Japanese culture so during lunch I read  about traditional Japanese values and the way of the Samurai. After lunch I walked around the tea rooms with one of the women who worked there, and she taught me some things about the  very traditional tea ceremony.

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One tradition is always walk into a room leading with your right foot, and walk out leading with your left. And don’t step on the edges of the tatami mat. And drink all the tea at once, and slurp a little bit audibly when you’re finished so you can let the tea master know you’re done without having to use any words. Something to try at family dinner. Lunch was “sit on the floor” style which made my legs hurt a little and have pins and needles multiple times, even with all the yoga.

wp_20161119_16_05_40_proAfter the meal I walked around and visited Hogonin Temple (and gardens), walked around the Hozu river, and then visited Tenryiu-ji Zen temple (and gardens). My mom told me to visit the Zen temple, she was right, it was really cool! The inside, very sparse with tatami mats, and the garden shown in the picture.

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I think it’s a thing for Japanese people to rent traditional Japanese dress to visit these sites. There are a lot of people in traditional clothing taking selfies and rental places for Kimonos and the equivalent for men. Kimonos are very beautiful especially with fall colors. After the temple I walked through a street lined with bamboo and wandered around not sure where. At this point it was getting dark. I visited a plum shop and tried the traditional Japanese pickled plums from 2% salt to 19% salt. Eek . I visited some other shops and got Sake cups for myself, and a few other gifts. I think if there were ever a time to get gifts, this would be it.

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By then it was around 7:30pm and it was time for dinner. I walked into a shop that specialized in boiled tofu, and tofu everything. Apparently it’s pretty famous. On the set menu was boiled tofu (first course shown above), tofu in a warm orange with miso and chestnuts, sesame tofu with wasabi, and fried tofu. It was another sit-on-the-floor style dinner, still a little painful. My favorite dish was the sesame tofu with wasabi (it was a gooey texture and good flavor) but at this point I’m completely tofu-ed out and ready to try Kobe beef. Fortunately I’m headed there tomorrow.

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So Kyoto during the peak foliage season (now): It’s so beautiful and colorful which makes it worth it, but so so crowded. I think if you want to have peace and a less expensive hotel, visit during a different time.

Love, Annie

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One Response to “Day of Tourism in Kyoto”

  1. Mel & Suan Says:

    Yes Kyoto is a beautiful city to explore and especially with the UNESCO heritage sites. It might be true that one can see more Japanese in traditional dress in Kyoto then elsewhere!


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