Friday, January 02, 2009

Day 5: Kyoto - Kinkakuji, Nijojo-mae, Gion, Kyoto Eki

Kinkakuji, the Golden Shrine
Kinkakuji is a shrine covered in gold. We took the bus there today. You can get the day-pass from any bus driver in Kyoto. Bus rides are a little different. You get on at the back door, and get out the front door, and pay as you leave. The ride was extremely crowded, so that we were completely was very warm and cozy that way! Kinkakuji has a 200 yen entrance fee. We spent the morning there strolling in a cloudy, light drizzle. There was still a crowd even though it is a Saturday and the 2nd day of the New Year. Someone famous has his remains there, somewhere. Some general...can't quite remember the name. The temple is surrounded by a lake so there is quite a nice view of the temple. There are three stories, the first floor is made of wood, second and third has gold, and have different designs. On the way down the hill, there were samples of pickles and nuts again. That's the wonderful thing here, samples before you buy, so you know what you are getting. And it all tastes so good after a walk up and down the hill.

A restaurant called "Now"
We tried to eat a famous all-you-can-eat seafood buffet place, but that was closed for New Year holidays. So instead, we had lunch at a place near Kinkakuji that was called "Now". I had soba, Charlene had tonkatsu. Food was good, and again, was served really fast. I don't have the website for this restaurant, but it is along the main road just outside Kinkakuji, about 5 min walk to the right when facing out. The seafood place is along the way. I am told that people actually go back there to eat more than once per visit to Kyoto. We will have to try this next time we come.

Shopping area in Teramachi Street
We wanted to see Nijojo Castle, but found out that ticket sales close at 3pm. We'll try again tomorrow. So instead we ended up in Teramachi area, which is the shopping area just before Gion, where we were yesterday. Lots of small tidbits and shops, including Takashimaya and Daimaru. We bought some donuts made from soy beans too. Light taste, sweet, and warm, with nice tender crunchiness. These are probably the best donuts in the universe.

Ramen street dinner at Kyoto Station
It is dinner time and we head toward Kyoto Eki. On the 11th floor of the Isetan building there is a whole food court called The Cube with of all kinds of ramen shops. We take the escalators up in the cold chilly wind, but fantastic night view of Kyoto tower. Finally we arrive at piping hot ramen with chasu! As with any good place to eat in Japan, there is a line, and the ramen shops are all tiny, with minimal seating space. The point is to eat and go. Nothing like a hot bowl of ramen after a walk in the cold.

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