Kyoto Day 1: Inari Fushimi, Gion, and the best meal I had in Japan and possibly, EVER.

Day 4 began in Osaka, where I had a light breakfast and headed to Umeda station to get on the Hankyu express to Kyoto.

(1)
DSC_0283

I think I had one mentaiko onigiri per day. You can never go wrong.

(2)
DSC_0285
A perfect breakfast. As you can see in the background, I also had edamame, one soft boiled egg, and a piece of shoyu senbei.

(3)
DSC_0284
And. I also had a potato salad. Everything was magically delicious, and the veggies were really fresh and crispy.

(4)
 DSC_0287
Waiting for the train. Ready for a new adventure!

(5)
DSC_0288
I love Japanese houses. The apartments in Japan are pretty similar to the apartments in Korea, but the houses are noticeably different. First of all, there aren’t a lot of residential two-story houses in Korea, and if there are, they are usually very old houses that look run-down and not-so-pleasant to live in. In Japan, I saw a lot of these types of two-story houses that are very compact, but look very charming. I assume they aren’t cheap to live in, because I heard that housing is overall, pretty expensive in Japan. But, they looked so neat and clean, so now I have a dream that maybe I can live in a compact two-story house in japan in the future.

(6)
DSC_0291
The sky was so blue during my stay in Japan. I loved looking out the window in the train.

After about a 40-50 minute ride, we arrived in Kyoto, at Shijo-Karasuma station. Most people get off at Kyoto station, but since our hotel was located at Shijo-Karasuma, we decided to check in first. I don’t have any pictures of our ordeal of getting to the hotel, but let me just take a moment to thank the woman that understood my broken Japanese and took time out of her day to take out her iPad and search for the exact whereabouts of our hotel. THANK YOU. This is another reason why I love Japan. If you ask for directions, people will go out of their way to help you (at least the people I met). One time I wasn’t even lost, I was just looking at a map and a old man came and asked if he could help. Thank you, good people of Japan and all the good people of the world.
So, after walking around in the hot sun, we finally got to our hotel, Court Hotel Kyoto Shijo. I booked one night from hotels.com, and it cost about 70,000 won per day for two people. The hotel was actually pretty spacious (but I’m a little person, so maybe my standards are different). At least moreso than the apartment we stayed in Osaka. The subway station was about a ten minute walk away, but the bus station was right around the corner. So all in all, I would highly recommend this hotel for anyone looking for a clean, convenient hotel to stay in a couple of nights.

(7)
DSC_0297
After checking in, we stopped by a local eatery for brunch. This particular restaurant had all sorts of pre-made food that you could grab and put on your tray, and then when they’d ring you up, you could ask for any size serving of rice. I chose teriyaki chicken, one large umeboshi for my rice, a side dish of some sort of vegetable and aburaage mix, and a bowl of miso soup with lots of tenkatsu topping.

(8)
DSC_0298
We also got a mini sukiyaki and karaage.

(9)
DSC_0300
A perfect start to our first day in Kyoto.

(10)
DSC_0302
What I really liked about this place was that it was cheap, lots of assortment, and if you came alone, there were plenty of single seats where you could eat comfortably.

Now off to Fushimi Inari we go!

(11)
DSC_0304
We still had a day to use our Kansai Thru Passes, so we chose to go by subway. Stopped at Gion-Shijo station to transfer.

(12)
DSC_0306
I heard people say that if you want to visit Kyoto during the cherry blossom season, you must make reservations in advance. Like a year in advance. After walking around the Gion area, I can imagine how beautiful Kyoto would be in Spring. All along the river, there are lots of weeping cherry blossom trees (my favorite kind of cherry blossom). It really made me want to think of going back to see the cherry blossoms in the future.

(13)
DSC_0308
On the train to Fushimi Inari. One good thing about going to Kyoto during the summer is that because it is so popular during the spring, not a lot of people go during the summer so there’s lots of empty seats on the subway, the bus, and not so many people around the city overall.

(14)
DSC_0311
Around the station just before getting to the temple, there are so many charming cafes and shops. I could probably spend a whole day here and be completely satisfied. That’s how much I loved the place.

(15)
DSC_0312

(16)
DSC_0314

(17)
DSC_0386
Little details really make my heart flutter.

(18)
DSC_0388

(19)
DSC_0391

(20)
DSC_0397

(21)
DSC_0392

(22)
DSC_0400
So serene and peaceful.

For photographs of the actual temple and gates, I have a separate post here.

(23)
DSC_0401
Walking towards the station, I saw two women dressed in yukata, and I had to snap a few photos.

(24)
DSC_0404

(25)
DSC_0405

(26)
DSC_0408
Love how the colors came out in this picture.

(27)
DSC_0411

(28)
DSC_0412
Houses, why you look so charming???

Now, back in Gion.

(29)
DSC_0419
Yep, it was that hot.

(30)
DSC_0422
Many restaurants along the river have outdoor seating that become very crowded during the cooler seasons, especially during the spring.

(31)
DSC_0423
Walk into the little corners and alleyways around the area, and you will see this:

(32)
DSC_0424
Restaurants and little shops packed into the alley.

(33)
DSC_0426
I just really love the clean lines and color spectrum of traditional Japanese architecture.

(34)
DSC_0430
Bamboo shades(?) I don’t really know what they’re called, but they’re made out of bamboo and have a purpose of protecting the walls and windows of a house from rain.

(35)
DSC_0431
I also love the minimalist nature of the signage in Kyoto. In Osaka, everything was loud, bright, and very obnoxious, but in Kyoto there was elegance in the simple calligraphy of the signs. The only bad thing about this is that if you don’t know the area and if you don’t know Japanese, it’s impossible to see what kind of restaurant/shop a place is.

(36)
DSC_0436
Mini figurines made out of clay.

(37)
DSC_0437

(38)
DSC_0441
Just walking around made me so happy.

(39)
DSC_0447
After walking around for about an hour, I finally saw a restaurant that served a pretty affordable kaiseki course (about 4000 yen per person, or 40,000 won). Kaiseki is a traditional Japanese course meal and Kyoto does its own take of it using seasonal, local ingredients with an inexplicable attention to detail both in flavor and presentation. Needless to say, I was very, very, very excited.

(40)
DSC_0450
We sat on the counter seats and I immediately loved the place. From the outside, the restaurants in Gion are pretty mysterious. Most buildings don’t have windows, and even if they do you can’t really see anything. Even just by looking at the decor and the table placements, there was an extraordinary attention to detail that made my kaiseki-ryori experience that much more memorable.

(41)
DSC_0460DSC_0472
Even the napkins were cute. Different napkins with different local Kyoto vegetables illustrations.

(42)
DSC_0457
To start things off, a cold beer.

(43)
DSC_0452
The first course consisted of three small pots (each with unique designs) filled with various small appetizers.

(44)
DSC_0459
From right to left: thinly sliced cucumber with what I presume was jellyfish, a thin root vegetable with shiitake mushroom, and peppers with baby sardines. All the dishes were very lightly flavored and served cold. A beautiful start to the course.

(45)
DSC_0461
The next dish came in a black lacquered bowl.

(46)
DSC_0462
It looked like tofu but was actually a version of chawanmushi, i believe. A very soft and fluffy egg custard with various ingredients added into it including some sort of fish, with a mysterious leaf, a perfectly cooked carrot (how do carrots taste this delicious?), and the zest of a green yuzu. The custard was put in a very light and delicate dashii stock.

(47)
DSC_0463
The next course almost made me pee my pants because it was so good. Tuna sashimi, a mysterious but delicious fish I can only hope to find out what it is, and cuttlefish sashimi. The cuttlefish in particular was delicious. The meat was dense but as you chewed it, it kind of just melted away. It almost felt like I was eating butter. The daikon triangle served as a garnish also tasted delicious, sweet with no bitter taste at all. In the little bamboo cup they served strips of nutty bean curd.

(48)
DSC_0465
Only one meme sums up my reaction as I look at these pictures again.
 Heavy breathing.

(49)
DSC_0466
The next course was also presented beautifully. Pork shabushabu ingredients including ribbons of long green onion, shaved gobo root, daikon radish slices, shimeji mushroom, cabbage, and chicory.

(50)
DSC_0470
The pork was tender and succulent. It’s amazing how cutting vegetables a different way makes it taste so much better. I have definitely added shaved gobo to hot pots after trying this.

(51)
DSC_0473
The next course was buckwheat noodles, soba.

(52)
DSC_0474
A perfect little bowl to cleanse the palate.

(53)
DSC_0475
Agemono, fried bits and pieces of deliciousness. The tempura batter was so light and crip. The star of this show was probably the eggplant.

(54)
DSC_0480
At this point I was getting pretty full. But I made myself make room for rice cooked in some sort of broth with shirasu and shiso topping. Very fragrant and delicious. And comforting.

(55)
DSC_0482
Came with an assortment of tsukemono, pickled vegetables.

(56)
DSC_0488
And miso soup.

(57)
DSC_0491
Finally, dessert! A very rich and creamy green tea ice cream with three boiled and sweetened black beans. They almost look like little pebbles. A perfect end to the best meal I had in Japan.

Before leaving I went to the bathroom and was surprised, once again by the attention to detail.

(58)
DSC_0496
There were actually pine needles in the sink. A fragrant and beautiful touch.

(59)
DSC_0501

(60)
DSC_0500
Toothpicks and oil blotting paper for guests in the bathroom.

(61)
DSC_0502
I highly recommend this restaurant for authentic kaiseki course dinners to anyone visiting Gion. You won’t be disappointed.

(62)
DSC_0504
Look for this sign.

(63)
DSC_0507
Bamboo leaves swaying in the breeze on the walk home.

(64)
DSC_0522
Stopped by the combini for dessert number two. Roll cake!

(65)
DSC_0523
Why are you so fluffy? And so rich and delicious? Why are the combini cakes and desserts so delicious? WHY? WHY Korea can’t you make desserts like this in the convenience stores? I miss you, roll cake.

Stay tuned for day 2!

Advertisements

2 responses to “Kyoto Day 1: Inari Fushimi, Gion, and the best meal I had in Japan and possibly, EVER.

  1. 핑백: Kyoto Day 2 and 3: a written oracle at Kinkakuji Temple, my dango wishes come true at Arashiyama, and the eventful last meal. | yorimcha·

  2. 핑백: Next-level Leftover Rice: Ham and Cheese Rice Burger 햄치즈 밥버거 | yorimcha·

답글 남기기

아래 항목을 채우거나 오른쪽 아이콘 중 하나를 클릭하여 로그 인 하세요:

WordPress.com 로고

WordPress.com의 계정을 사용하여 댓글을 남깁니다. 로그아웃 /  변경 )

Google+ photo

Google+의 계정을 사용하여 댓글을 남깁니다. 로그아웃 /  변경 )

Twitter 사진

Twitter의 계정을 사용하여 댓글을 남깁니다. 로그아웃 /  변경 )

Facebook 사진

Facebook의 계정을 사용하여 댓글을 남깁니다. 로그아웃 /  변경 )

%s에 연결하는 중