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Day 6: Thursday, 22 October 2009

On Thursday morning, before our group gathered to watch the Jidai Matsuri parade, I walked to the Teramachi shopping area to try to find a kimono rental shop I'd seen the day or two before. For around 3000 yen, if I recall correctly, you can rent a kimono (and accessories) for the day, and you can get help putting it on, too—necessary in my case. But I didn't remember the name or location of the shop, so, fueled by a hot bottle of milk tea from a vending machine, I wandered up and down, back and forth as the district slowly opened up for the day. Too slowly for me. The still-closed shops were entirely shuttered, so you couldn't peek in any windows or read the signs in many cases. As the meet-up time approached without my having identified the kimono rental shop among the growing fraction of shops that had opened, I had to give up and head back to the hotel. I'll have to try again next time I visit Kyoto.

Yoshino TayuFrom around 11:30am to 1:30pm we watched the annual Jidai Matsuri parade from front-row seats on the grounds of the Imperial Palace. Here are my many photos. It was a treat to be able to see the parade from such a great vantage point.

After the parade, I think I engaged in some combination of napping and lounging on the hotel's street-side patio with a hot dark chocolate drink from a vending machine.

Later on I and another group member headed to Shijo Street to browse the big department stores. My favorite floor is always the sprawling basement food floor. In Daimaru's basement I bought a takeout package of simmered mushrooms and lotus root. They don't particularly accommodate people who want to eat their food right there, so I had to stake out a bench near an escalator, but then I realized I didn't have any eating utensils, so I ventured into the maze of aisles to find a pair of chopsticks. I need a navigation system for these floors, because I get disoriented so easily. Eventually I found my way back to the bench with both food and chopsticks to eat it with, and I had a delicious snack. I picked up an adorable little glass jar of chestnut Dokidemo Purin (Whenever Pudding) for later.

In Takashimaya, we went to the top floor to see an exhibition of gorgeous ceramics and kimono. On a lower floor, I picked up a CD for a friend back home and wondered whether its 3000 yen price tag is typical.

Next we went to Nishiki Market and browsed the mostly-food shops there. In contrast to the department store food floors, this is the place to get fresh food, especially seafood and vegetables. It would be great to have a food-specialist tour guide for this market; for each item I recognized, there were five I didn't. Here's a photo-filled overview of the kinds of food you can buy there. I didn't buy any food there, but in an unusually non-food shop I picked up a couple of purse rings and a cute cotton furoshiki that, knotted together, comprise the handbag I've been carrying lately.

For dinner a group of us met at Gogyo, a ramen shop that diverges from the common slurp-in-a-hurry-while-standing-up model with its quiet atmosphere, dramatic lighting, full-service format, and gourmet ramen. I don't mean that it contains any exotic ingredients, just that it's sooooo delicious. If you aren't familiar with Japanese-style ramen, purge any thought of instant noodles from your mind. It's rich and complex and fresh. I especially recommend their miso ramen. If there's any downside, it's that it's not vegetarian at all. Even without the pork, the broth probably was made with at least one kind of animal.

After the ramen we were served hot cups of corn tea. Corn tea! I'd never heard of or tasted it before, but it was the perfect drink for after a hearty bowl of ramen—light and subtly sweet and simple.

This entry was originally posted at http://bokunenjin.dreamwidth.org/3647.html.