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Day four pictures.schoolchildren posing for a photo in front of Ginkaku-ji

We kicked off Day Four with a visit to Ginkaku-ji, the famous Silver Pavilion that isn't actually silver. More throngs of uniformed schoolchildren on field trips. The youngest students' "uniforms" are merely yellow caps, which I hear is because they grow too fast to bother with full uniforms. Ginkaku-ji and its grounds are, of course, beautiful, and in a way that brings to mind the Japanese adjective kirei, which tellingly means not just pretty/beautiful but also clean/neat. We saw maintenance workers throughout the temple grounds, skimming something from the ponds, trimming trees, sweeping up brush.

It was another sunny, warm day, so after visiting Ginkaku-ji, we stopped for soft-serve ice cream at the bottom of the hill. I love matcha ice cream, but I can find it back home, so I opted to try some hojicha ice cream. Very refreshing! Funny how I remember the food from this trip so well. :)

It was natural from there to walk for a while along the Philosopher's Path. I hear it's gorgeous during cherry-blossom season, but it was pleasant enough in late May. Along the path I stopped to check out Hōnen-in, a small, quiet temple with distinctive mounds of raked sand.

We ate lunch on the deck of a Pontochō restaurant, overlooking the Kamo River. It was another set meal with many small dishes but unfortunately not enough water to quench the thirst of over a dozen people who'd been walking all morning. They did give us cute fans with a map to the restaurant on one side, though. :)Pontochō

In the afternoon, we went to Tondaya for what we understood to be a kimono-dressing lesson. Turns out that's not quite what they were going to offer: instead of kimono-dressing lessons, we could pay to be sort-of dressed up in kimono that we could wear while on a tour of their historic house. We agreed that one woman in our group would do it, and the slapdash way they dressed her is what prompted me to write "sort-of dressed up" in the previous sentence. The house tour was okay, but a subsequent hard-sell display of their silks left a sour taste in our mouths. It was the only really disappointing part of the trip, as even our organizer would admit.

A visit to the Kyoto Handicraft Center was next, if I remember correctly. It's a several-story building with cloisonné, fabrics, kimonos, lacquerware, wall art, dolls, and all kinds of souvenirs, more for sale than on display, and all geared toward foreign tourists. I got a lacquer bento box that even with three layers is small enough to prompt jokes from the gang about it being a bento box for dieters. Elsewhere on the trip I picked up a few plastic bento boxes and accessories at 100-yen stores and at Takashimaya, pushing my set of bento boxes over the edge into "collection" territory. I figure lunch is a good cause. :) Another young woman in the group professed to being a fellow fan of Bento TV, though for her it's more of a spectator sport.

Dinner that evening was one of the most fun meals of the trip. The name of the restaurant appears to be 串入, which I'm getting from one of a set of copies of their menu that our organizer dashed over to a copy shop to make (after getting permission from the restaurant, of course). That's how much we loved the graphic design of their menu. Here's a photograph of most of one side of it; as you can see, it's an English version of their menu. Food on stick! How can you not love this place? Anything you can imagine, they'll put it on a stick and either grill it or fry it. Sitting at a counter around the cooking area, we ordered and passed around a variety of Food on Stick: shrimp, chicken, squid, sausage, yam, eggplant, lotus root, mushrooms, konnyaku, pumpkin... I even ordered grilled garlic toast on a stick. :) It seemed like a comfy neighborhood spot, the cooks calling out "Irasshaimase!" to entering patrons, many of whom seemed to be a little taken aback by the crowd of foreigners dominating the counter space. We had a great time. Yuzu sherbet made a perfect end to my meal. Afterwards I tried to get folks to join me for karaoke, but they were all party-poopers.



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 10th, 2007 04:01 pm (UTC)
Hojicha ice cream? That sounds really good.

It sounds like the whole trip was a lot of fun for you. Thanks for sharing your experiences. :)
Jul. 20th, 2007 01:16 am (UTC)
You sing???
Jul. 20th, 2007 03:40 am (UTC)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )