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Day six photos.

Kitano Tenman-gūOn Friday morning we got up early to visit the second temple market of our trip: Tenjin. After I returned from the trip, I read that Wikipedia entry, which says
A Kyoto proverb proclaims, "Fair weather at Toji market means rainy weather at Tenjin market," calling to mind Kyoto's fickle weather.
It could not have been more accurate. Some vendors had set up their booths, but there were many empty spots and vendors who had only half-heartedly set up. We had umbrellas, but we couldn't help getting soggy and discouraged anyway, just like the vendors. I wish I'd photographed the booth selling nothing but kompeito—bin after bin in different color combinations.

While most of our group was at the market, our luggage was being transported from the Western-style hotel to Rikiya, a ryokan where we'd stay for the remainder of the trip. I stayed in a big room with Nancy (the trip leader), Sabrina, and Kathy. I mentioned in a previous travelogue post about the strange room-key protocol at Japanese hotels. Well, at the ryokan, there is no room key. There are generally people (staff, if not fellow guests) "around"; it's what I'd call a high-trust environment. After doing some sightseeing, I'd return to the ryokan through the front gate, take off my shoes at the genkan, walk down the hall to our room and go right in. Our room had a door, but I don't think there was any lock. What a feeling to live in a place like that!

We all ate lunch that day at an Italian restaurant in a high-rise building with a view over the city and the Kamo River, now rushing with water. I think it might have been our only big Western-style meal. The restaurant's antipasto buffet included a worldly assortment of things like collard greens, gazpacho, couscous, and fruit salad. Nancy ordered us a bunch of different kinds of pizza and pasta to share, which streamlined the decision-making process (much as it did at all the other restaurants we patronized as a group), but it sometimes resulted in a table of diners casting wary glances at an uneaten pizza topped with ingredients nobody wanted (whole small fish, anyone?). That was the exception, though.

After lunch, Junko took me shopping for tea-ceremony-related things. First we hit Ippodo, a tea shop par excellence, where I bought a small tin of matcha and a packet of shincha. Proceeding south along Teramachi-dōri, we stopped at a wagashi shop and then a sort of general store for traditional cultural pursuits, where I picked up a new fukusabasami, some kaishi with a cute baby-blue print on it, and the kōdō starter stuff I mentioned before. Junko mentioned she, too, was intrigued by this kōdō stuff and was thinking of trying it herself.

For dinner, we all went to an izakaya, where we sat around a counter and passed plates among ourselves: okonomiyaki, sashimi, korokke, and lots more that I don't recall. My dessert was matcha mochi cubes accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream drizzled with chocolate sauce, sprinkled with corn flakes. Taste- and texture-wise, it works; it's just so odd.

Once again, my groupies chickened out of after-dinner karaoke, but as we hit a sake-and-beer vending machine on the walk back to the ryokan, some singing took place anyway. So that's another thing about Japan: there doesn't seem to be any stigma about drinking in public places. In Japan, alcohol goes hand-in-hand with blossom-viewing, whereas you'd better not be caught with any alcoholic drink on the shores of the tidal basin over here. That's at least one area where Japan has the more libertarian view.

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Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
pwinkler
Jun. 22nd, 2007 10:11 pm (UTC)
Doing karaoke while I was in Japan was one of the best times I've had. There's just something about it that's inherently fun for me. I also remember singing while walking through the subway station and this old Japanese fellow started singing too.
brian_252
Jul. 20th, 2007 01:34 am (UTC)
I've got to hear you sing ;)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )