The autumn foliage @ Kinkakuji
Japan

Japan 2.0: Day 3 (Kyoto)

A Sleepness Night Calls for Comfort Food

It was a sleepless night for most of us as we were jet-lagged. We set off early at 8am to begin our journey in Kyoto. We wanted something quick and easy, so we stopped by Matsuya for some breakfast. Because I just had the traditional Japanese breakfast yesterday, I decided to have the beef and egg rice bowl instead. It was alright. Definitely not the best gyudon I’ve had.

Gyudon @ Matsuya
Gyudon @ Matsuya

Snacking at Nishiki Market

Next, we walked through Nishiki Market for some browsing as well as snacking. It was here that I learned it was rude in Japan to walk and eat. Apparently, you should eat the food in front of the stall you purchased it from, then either give the garbage back to the store owner to throw out for you or to bring it home with you! Interesting! After learning that, we tried some soy milk cream croquette (amazing!), hedgehog donut filled with creamy custard (it was cute and tasted not bad), and a rice cracker generously seasoned with loads of shichimi spice (good amount of heat, though not a fan of rice crackers).

It’s so fluffy

After checking out a fancy department store and admiring their perfectly presented produce, we headed over to Hoshino Coffee for their fluffy pancakes. We tried the original pancake, matcha pancake, as well as the soufflé. My favourite was definitely the super soft soufflé. It was chestnut season, so I had the chestnut flavoured soufflé. It was quite lovely. The pancakes had the texture and tasted more like cake and that is probably the reason why most pancake places don’t necessarily open for breakfast and it is treated as more like a dessert. 

Food for the Mind

It was time that we let go of some of our worldly possessions and food cravings by heading over to Shourin-ji (close to the famous Tofuku-ji) for a zazen meditation session. We were short on time so we hopped onto a taxi. This is our first taxi experience in Japan. Luckily, Bear Woman spoke Japanese, so it definitely helped. She showed the driver the exact location of our destination on her phone, since Shourin-ji is not a very well-known temple. The fee for the meditation session is 1000 yen per person and the total course time is 1 hour. There are two 15-minute sessions of meditation with instruction in between. The instruction is very specific. The sitting position is particular in terms of which foot goes on top of the other and how the hands must be placed. The eyes have to be half-closed but not completely closed. I found it to be more challenging to not fall asleep with my eyes as such. But have no fear, if you do find yourself feeling sleepy, you can request that the monk to administer the keisaku. This means he will strike you with a flat wooden stick two times on your upper back to help you refocus your energy. Don’t worry. It doesn’t hurt (unless you request a harder hit…)

The Ever-So-Popular Kinkaku-ji 

After our interesting meditating experience, we commuted over to Kinkaku-ji, the famous golden temple, which is one of the must-sees when you come to Kyoto. Most of us have seen it already but this is the first trip to Kyoto for my mom, so we decided to come brave the crowd for some pictures, fortune slips and lucky charms. 

The Quiet Oasis: Ryoan-ji

After that, we took an ~15-minute walk over to the more quiet Ryoan-ji to admire their lovely rock garden. 

Secret Foot Bath for Tired Feet!

It’s been a tiring day of lots of walking (over 26,000 steps). We hopped on the Randen line (private line not part of the JR rail pass) and then I received the best news I’ve heard all day. Special tip from Bear Woman: there is a secret foot bath at the Arashiyama station of the Randen Line! It only costs 200 yen and you even get a towel along with your experience. It is definitely worth it to soak your tired feet in nice, (and extremely) hot water.

We were getting hungry so we tried some snacks from the food stalls in the station. We tried their siu mai, fried chicken on a stick and fried shrimp on a stick. They were all very good, especially since we were hungry and tired.

Arashiyama: Not at This Time

We wanted to the night view of Arashiyama, unfortunately their “light-up” feature is not starting until December. (We went at the end of November.) It was pretty dark and we were advised by the guards that if we were to walk any further, it would be pitch dark. So we headed back downtown for dinner, but not until we picked up some cheese-on-a-stick (must-try if you love cheese) and wagyu and potato croquette (with creamy insides) from the food stalls on the main street. (Evidently, they love their fried foods here. Or maybe it’s just us…)

Gyoza, We Meet Again

Aaron’s been wanting to go back to Sukemasa for gyoza. We weren’t as lucky this time as they were quite full. We ended up waiting for quite a while for a table for 4. Their simple menu hasn’t changed so we got the gyoza set meal along with a must-get yuzu liquor with soda. It was consistent with our experience last time except the miso soup was more of the typical soup compared to last time where they put ground pork in it for extra flavour. 

It’s been a long and busy day so we took the bus home and called it a day.

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