So much has happened in the last week ( broken up with my weekend trip to the Art Islands) that I thought I’d let the pictures tell the story.
First off I was fortunate that the Rugby World Cup was in Japan because it brought my friend Bob McNamara and his friends John and Mike to Kyoto. There was lots of laughter as we enjoyed Shabu-Shabu at the Restaurant Shabuzen in my neighborhood. That’s where the restaurant brings you 5 plates of wagyu beef and platters of vegetables and you cook them in the boiling pot of water at your table.
This is my new friend Jose from Arizona. We met at a coffee cart early in the morning that was blasting Ed Sheehan’s “What do I know?”All I know is Kyoto is amazing. We both realized that the iconic Kyoto pagoda was sitting picture perfect ready for us in the empty morning street.
This is the Heian Shrine near my apartment. The fortunes left on the tree look like snow. People make an offering and in turn get a fortune. If it is bad, it is the custom to fold up the strip of paper and attach it to a nearby tree. The idea is the bad luck will wait by the tree rather than attach to the bearer. The shrine was built on the 1100th anniversary of the capital’s foundation in Kyoto. This is the enormous kiln of the famous potter Kawai Kanjiro. His home is gorgeous and serene. So is his cat with his face turned to the sun. I visited here one afternoon and there was only one other couple there ( from Oakland!).I got up so early to go see Kiyomizu-dera Temple. I’m glad I did as it is stunning in the morning and I was nearly all alone wandering around the grounds.Now for some food pictures.
First is Hitami which the New York Times dubs the best yakitori restaurant in Kyoto. I went at 10:00 at night and tried every part of the chicken including chicken knees! They are crunchy. I didn’t love them. See the picture of the chicken for more info. The owner/grill master pictured here took a liking to me and pretty soon lots of chicken parts were coming my way. It would have been impolite not try them!
Next is a neighborhood restaurant Manzaratei with the nicest cooks and a bowl of what looks like French fries on the counter but is fish skin fried! I sat next to a young Chinese couple both dressed in kimonos. After a few courses they each left and came back wearing shorts and tshirts. Kimonos can be very restrictive– I know!
Then we have dango( sweet rice balls) from Ohagi no Tanbaya which is street food just up the block from my apartment. Very nice older women entice you as you walk by. I couldn’t resist.
Those are pork and leek gyoza. Whenever I can’t think what to eat, I just go get these and sit at an outside table with a Japanese beer and keep ordering these until I’m full. Yesterday I was there and a guy from Hawaii took a stool next to me and in the space of time that I finished two orders, he had had 4 orders and 3 glasses of sake. I need to get better at my gyozas.
The tea picture is from today. A friend told me to go to the flagship Ippudo tea store and have them instruct me on the whole tea ceremony. It was really fun and educational. I’m pretty wired from all that tea!
Finally I also went to the town of Uji today where matcha is from. Had matcha tea, matcha rice crackers, matcha buckwheat noodles and I finished with this matcha ice cream cone. Actually maybe that’s why I’m wired!
Everyone is talking about the typhoon headed our way. It suppose to be a doozy and hit in Saturday. But tomorrow is predicted to be sunny and warm so I am going hiking in the mountains.
Ki wo tsukete