Sunday, 20 January 2013

Kyoto: Nishiki food market, Tea, Onsen, and a great evening out (inc “singing” in a restaurant)

We had heard that the lookout at the train station in Kyoto provided great views of the city. Having struggled to find it on two previous attempts we decided to start the day looking for it and found it quickly. The view from the top was indeed nice.

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A bus trip later we arrived at the Nishiki food market where we saw many different foods.

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P1030869_022P1030870_023P1030871_024P1030872_025We had a couple of different things to eat at the market too.

P1030873_026P1030876_029After wandering along Dotonburi street we went to a tea ceremony and learnt about making green tea and even whisked one up ourselves.

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P1030890_042P1030892_044P1030894_046P1030898_050Onsens are public baths found throughout Japan and people go into them naked except for a small towel. We found one in a remote suburb of Kyoto that we ventured into, bought a towel and then wandered in. There are several rules for using an Onsen and we were lucky that as soon as we walked into the main area somebody asked if he could help us and then proceeded to show us around, including which pools were which (hot, cold, warm), where the sauna was, how to clean prior to getting in and told us to throw water over ourselves once we had been in the sauna to get rid of sweat. The towel is used both in and out of the water. To dry yourself you put the towel in water, wring it out and then dry yourself. Many people place the towels on their heads whilst sitting in the Onsen just so they don’t lose them.  It was a great experience.

P1030900_052Wandering from the Onsen we walked for about two kilometres and came across what looked to be a small but happening restaurant that looked a little up market from many of the others we had ventured into. It turned out to be an Udon noodle restaurant that had only recently reopened (10 days previously) since the owner had been quite sick. The Udon dish was great and the soup broth full of flavour (I think it tasted of Miso and Lemon rind).

P1030904_055We got chatting with others in the restaurant of which four of them were from the same school but in different years. One of them was the editor for the Kyoto Times and another a jazz pianist. Their various friends came and left and we had a great time chatting away and drinking sake with them for a couple of hours. P1030907_058We even sang in the restaurant. It was a highly amusing evening.

Fun times in Kyoto

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