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Day 7: Friday, 23 October 2009

This post is a long, long overdue continuation of my travelogue from last fall's trip to Japan.

So, Friday was our trip to Ōhara 大原, a rural village north of the city of Kyoto that had been one of the high points of my previous trip to Japan. As we did last time, our group loaded into a few taxis to get there. Our first destination was Sanzen-in 三千院 Temple with its beautiful gardens and Jizō (地蔵) statues. It wasn't very crowded, so we wandered the temple grounds at a leisurely pace, enjoying the tranquility and stopping for a cup of shiso tea at a little rest area.

Our group dispersed as we left the temple. I had a cone of chestnut soft-serve ice cream as I drifted along the pedestrian walkway. Heading down the hill, I was happy to see this cat, whom I recognized from my previous visit even though he wasn't sitting on a scooter this time. He's such a personable kitty; apparently he's a fixture at his caretaker's jewelry stand. Pickled vegetables are a specialty of Ōhara, so I stopped at a pickle stand for some vacuum-sealed pickles to bring home as well as an aisu kyuuri, a cucumber pickled in seaweed flavored ice water and served on a stick. Crunchy and refreshing! I picked up some more food souvenirs—candied yuzu peel and a kinako-based confection—and hot-off-the-grill senbei as I walked down the hill to join the group for lunch at Sawada. Lunch, including tofu dengaku and red shiso-topped rice and more that I forget, was tasty.

After reading that last paragraph, you know why I go to Japan, right? :)

Before I go on to our afternoon, I'll interject that I recently discovered a show on NHK World TV—which I'm lucky enough to be able to pick up over the air if I point my antenna out the right side of my townhouse—called At Home with Venetia in Kyoto. It appears to be an English-language adaptation of 猫のしっぽ カエルの手 京都 大原 ベニシアの手づくり暮らし. I'm now addicted to this show about Venetia's idyllic Ōhara lifestyle, living in a renovated farmhouse, cultivating a productive garden, visiting her local artisan friends with jars of homemade jam in hand. Apparently my tour group's organizer tried to include her garden in our tour at some point.

Anyway, on to the afternoon, when we walked over to the natural dyeing workshop at Ōhara Kōbō (大原工房). This workshop features in an episode of At Home with Venetia in Kyoto. Here's the episode in three parts: part 1, part 2, part 3. I dyed a linen shirt for my mom in pink and orange.

Here are my photos from Ōhara.

Somehow it wasn't especially late when we got back to the city, so Barbara and I headed to Ippodo's KABOKU Tearoom. We each had a bowl of Sayaka-no-mukashi usucha and a delectable sweet (hers, mine). We stopped in a paper shop and then a used bookstore, which was my downfall. I think I managed to double the weight of my luggage by picking up old books on gift-wrapping, chadō, shodō, and, serendipitously enough, Sanzen-in.

Wandering over to Teramachi Street, we stopped in Koizumi Gakki, a music store selling recordings as well as instruments ranging from erhu to djembe to Jew's harp to didgeridoo... a fascinating assortment. I asked the store clerk, in my halting Japanese, if they had any CDs of traditional instrumental music, particularly Ryukyuan music, and he opened up some half dozen cases to let me listen to different albums. I'm not sure how Barbara managed the patience to wait for me through all that sampling. Eventually I decided on NISUMURA: Traditional Songs from Nishihara, Miyako Island 宮古西原 古謡集 and MYAHK: Traditional Songs from Miyako & Tarama Island 宮古 多良間 古謡集. Props to that super-friendly and -helpful store clerk. If you're in Kyoto and you like music, I recommend this place.

For dinner we sat down in the nearby Lipton Tea Room. I had mushroom and sea bream pasta followed by this matcha parfait to top off a day of amazing eating and exploring.

This entry was originally posted at http://bokunenjin.dreamwidth.org/9011.html.



( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Aug. 27th, 2010 06:58 am (UTC)
I love that last shot so much. I wish there were posters of it. I'm glad you had a good trip, and awww kitty, and I envy you the chestnut ice cream and tea. (Most of the food, really.) Great post!
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )