It’s funny how sometimes the unplanned days end up being the best ones. Ok, not sometimes…often! We had originally planned on a day trip out of the city, but the weather forecast was for rain all day. We decided to skip the rainy travel and just explore more of Kyoto since there is so much to see. It was a very good decision. I believe this is the day when we really discovered the attraction, peace, and tranquility that you can find in Japanese gardens. I’m a huge fan now.
We took a bus to the general area of a shrine I had read about, but once we got off at our stop we were hungry. We found a little local place and enjoyed our first Udon of the trip and I had my first tempura (breaded shrimp) of the trip. I’m here to tell you guys that their tempura is light, lovely and next level. Oishi.
There was a large TV (first we’d seen in a restaurant) and people were watching a sports station which was showing a relay race that Japan won; they kept replaying each leg of the race in minute detail. Over and over. We had no idea what they were saying, but we got the gist. Some things are universal. Sal had a dining companion in the fish tank next to his seat (upper right pic). We were almost done eating and a senior lady started smoking. There were literally only four tables in the place so it got pretty smelly and we left soon after, but not before telling the chef it was oishi and getting a big grin.
Warning: lots of full size pics following!
We wandered around a bit in search of a shrine and a garden or two. We walked past a shrine on the way to Ryōanji.
Ryōanji shrine and stone garden:
We left there and walked a bit.
Soon we came across another garden, and even though at this point it was overcast and occasionally sprinkling, we decided to check it out. Good decision. We almost had the whole garden to ourselves. The reflections there were beautiful.
I had read that one of the gardens that doesn’t get a lot of attention and was a hidden gem was Muirin Gardens, so we walked over to check it out.
As we got there it started sprinkling. It didn’t take away from the beauty of the gardens at all, but managed to enhanced it. We got to have cold matcha in the tea room, watch the rain, and admire the garden. Perfect.
We walked to the Traditional Crafts Museum. If you are at all interested in crafts, this place is awesome. I know for a fact I took pictures there, and they are somehow missing now. We have no idea why, I only know that it’s extremely frustrating. Scroogled again. If you click on the link above you can get an idea of what the place is like. In addition to the museum with all of the various craft works, there is a gift shop and an area to take classes. A group of older folk were doing a craft when we were browsing the gift shop and it made me very envious. I love crafts.
It was raining extremely hard by the time we left. We got on the most crowded bus to date and made our way to our dinner location. Of course my knee was hurting pretty badly at this point and because the bus was so crowded there weren’t any seats. When we got to our stop trying to get to the front of the bus to pay was a real adventure, lemme tell ya. You really feel like a clumsy giant sometimes in Japan; or at least I did.
I knew at some point in the trip I wanted to get one of the things Japan is famous for: great quality of meat. I did a little research and made a reservation beforehand at Kyo-no-Yakiniku-Dokoro Hiro Pontocho. There’s got to be a shorter name for it, right? Anyway, I’m so glad I did! We got some sake for medicinal purposes, and chose a big meat combination called the “Fantastic course” (as well a few sides). You get a little grill BBQ type grill to cook with, and these little ladies walk around and pour hot coals into the grill to get you started. It will come as no surprise that Sal was much more adventurous with the previously unknown meats than I was and tried everything. But hey…I tried the tongue! It was chewy, as you might expect. I’ll let these pics and silly videos speak for themselves.
The best, by far, as the Wagyu. My, my, my.
After we finished that bit of heaven, they brought out the second plate of meat. This was the serious stuff. Sal tried every single thing on the plate, whereas I only tried the piece in the middle that looked like something I may have seen before. Brave/weird Sal. I documented the insanity. I may have missed my calling as an investigative reporter. Probably not. Enjoy these stupid videos that still make me chuckle, and let’s just blame it on the sake and a long day of walking!
A truly fun last day in Kyoto!