We started with free brekky at the Super Hotel. Each day was a little bit different, but basically there were 4 or 5 types of bread/pastries, a type of salad, some fruit, yoghurt, cornflakes, milk, juice and they turned the vending machines to ‘free’ so you could have whatever you wanted to drink like coffee, tea, hot cocoa etc.
Our first stop of the day was Nishiki market – known as the kitchen of Kyoto. It’s a smaller version of the Tsukiji market in Tokyo and we had a wander through it as it was right next to the hotel.
M was captivated by the perfect strawberries on offer and we later purchased quite a few punnets at slightly cheaper prices in Osaka. I do have to say that fruit in Japan is expensive, but it tastes so much better than anything I’ve ever eaten in Australia.
I, on the other hand, was captivated by the very fine dried squid offerings:
First on our sight-seeing list was Nijojo castle – former residence of the Tokugawa shogun. It’s famous for its intentionally squeaky ‘nightingale’ floor that was created so ninja assassins couldn’t sneak into the castle.
The day started out sunny and foolishly thinking it would stay that way, I didn’t bother to take an umbrella:
While we were walking around the gardens the heavens opened up and so we took refuge in a tea house that was serving green tea and sweets in a simplified version of the tea ceremony. Once we’d handed over our 700 yen, they supplied us with umbrellas and lead the way to the tea house:
After the tea, I need to go to the loo and found a public toilet that actually had toilet paper in it… and lots of buttons and signs…
On the way out of the gardens I also managed to snag some hot mitarashi dango at the stalls they had set up for the cherry blossom festival:
Then we hopped on a bus and went up into the hills of Kyoto to visit the Golden Temple (Kinkakuji). You’re not sure what you’re in for when you arrive at the entrance and wind your way through the mossy forest:
The map hints at what is to come, but the dedicated man sweeping the rain water out of the gutter is a little distracting:
Then you round another corner and see the vending machines and all is right with the world according to Japan:
After the golden temple, we stopped at a nearby restaurant for an ‘obanzai‘ buffet for $20 per person. Obanzai are traditional, home-style dishes of Kyoto and even amongst Japanese people, they are popular as it’s difficult to get that sort of simple, old-style food.
M amused me once again by sticking with tempura and all things fried:
After fuelling up, we were ready to hit our last sight-seeing spot of the day, the rock garden of Ryoanji temple:
It’s the rock garden that started all those desktop zen sand gardens that you buy from K-mart and the reject shop and it’s designed so you can’t fit all the rocks into one camera shot (well, it’s actually designed so you can’t see all the rocks at once, but hey we live in a digital camera world…)
Just to the right of the rock garden is the very famous zen water feature that says, “I learn only to be contented”:
On the way back to the hotel I saw a stall on the side of the road selling cream-filled, chocolate-chip, plain and walnut melon bread, so of course I had to buy the walnut melon bread:
After our long day, M was feeling a bit worse for wear so we stayed in. I went out to the convenience store around the corner and got some supplies of canned coffee, more bread and instant noodles:
While M snoozed, I went down to the lobby to have a bath in the hot spring.
First you take everything off and put it in a locker:
Part 5 to come…