Kyoto Day 2: Strolling Around Gion, Shrines, Nishiki Market, End of the Line

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

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After a good sleep and hair dryer dried shoes, I was ready for our second day in Kyoto.

We left the hotel early in search of breakfast, settling on a chain restaurant named Sukiya that specializes in gyudon, donburi, and curry. They had breakfast sets that everyone else seemed to be ordering, but I wanted a nice plate of stew vegetables slathered in a thin brown curry with a side of rice. Topped with pickled ginger, it busted by cold and tasted delicious. J ordered a breakfast combo that came with a soup, rice, a raw egg, and a precisely packed serving of natto.

It was her first time to try this pungent snack of fermented soybeans connected by sticky gossamer-like strings. Another word for gossamer is snot. Natto was not, oh, finished.

We walked to Gion in hope of seeing gangs of geishas coming and going. But the geishas were gone or still resting. These ladies of the night are classy lassies though, and their form of entertainment is as sophisticated as their billion dollar kimonos.

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Awning skeleton.
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Coffee diaper?
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Rooftop.
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Pole padding.
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Gingko leaves.
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Art installation or practical drying spot?
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A crowded dash.
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Street light.
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Junked packed house spilling out to the street.
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A single van family.
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Crossing Gojo Street.
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Portable mail box.
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Stamps.
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Little black car.
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Quaint restaurant.
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Banners.
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An old wooden warehouse.
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Alley street.
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Fire buckets collecting rain water.
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Man running along the Kamo River.

Following the canal along Shirakawa-minami street, we enjoyed seeing all the pedestrian bridges and traditional wooden buildings. Many of them had been remodeled, and the area was immaculate.

A girl dressed in budget duds and imprecise makeup was enjoying her photo shoot. I think many people pretend to be geishas when they visit Kyoto, much like people who wear flannel when they visit Portland, or ass-less pants and a pot holsters when visiting San Francisco.

Our walk took us through the massive gates of Chion-In. The main wooden structure was even more massive, and it was being remodeled over many years under and even more massive temporary building made of metal.

We wandered into a hillside cemetery and across to the neighboring Yasaka Shrine. Two cats posed for me on two small stumps, but a third cat ran in and messed up the shot before I could take a photo. Stupid third cat.

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The scenic canal.
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Tree over untroubled water.
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Wood is good.
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More wood is better.
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I could take photos of this type of building all day.
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Alley access.
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Steps to the water.
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Talk to the hand.
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The massive entrance to Chion-In. Use the people for scale.
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Kate’s mossy rocks.
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Incense holding urn and hill shrine over a pond.
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Stairs to the cemetery.
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Stones.
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A morbid overview.
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Foliage on fire.
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Zen construction wall and water puddle.
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Now that’s a color scheme!
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Post slot.
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Where are you, geishas?
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Another roof.

For lunch, we picked a Thai restaurant with large windows that overlook the Kamo River. Service was slow, but it didn’t seem to bother the groups of chatty ladies or sleeping man.

While waiting for our food, we enjoyed watching herons and egrets stalking small fish, ducks bobbing, and a large hawk hunting all of them.

Even the thai food came as a set lunch, and while not entirely flavorful or without Japanese touches, it was a decent meal.

After lunch, we walked to Nishiki Market to get stuck in the crowds and look at all the local foods for sale. The most commons items were pickled vegetables, tea, or seafood. I was in search of more green tea flavored, chewy triangles filled with bean paste. I didn’t find any.

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Preserved veggies.
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The covered street.
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Eel filets.
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Little octopi on sticks.
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A tea roaster.
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Katsuobushi, a type of dried fish to be shaved into flakes, sold in wood-like blocks.
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Veggies hiding under goops of miso.

With no idea what to do next, we decided to take the main north/south subway line to it’s northernmost stop: Kokusaikaikan. Only once we were on the train did we realize that this exotic sounding stop was actually to a conference center.

Exiting the station, it started drizzling again. Rather than walk deeper into the rustic park, we kept near a stream which led us back into a suburban neighborhood.

The homes looked a little newer, and most had the traditional tiled roofs. But many lots between the homes were small farms, growing healthy looking greens, radishes, rice, and other produce. I’d never seen gardens intermingled with residences like this before, and it was fun to explore.

We bought snacks at a convenience store, and the clerk seemed confused by us being there.

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A grassy space and a hill.
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Colorful public restroom.
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A patch of sun along the stream.
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Greens under an un-stretched canopy.
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Rice.
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Empty milk crates at a neighborhood distributor.
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A weathered shed.

Still slightly under the weather, I went back to the hotel to rest and work on blog posts while J kept exploring the area around the hotel. And while sad to admit it, we had another snacking dinner supplemented with some prepared vegetables from the local Iseman. The yams provided the energy for heated games of rummy and double solitaire.

Did I play a gentlemanly game? No sir, I did not.

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