Trip to Japan and China 2013 – Part 2 of ???

– Continued from Part 1 –

Part 2 – Still in Japan

Visiting Kyoto Day 1
Kyoto carries old face of Japan, and attract tourist from both in and out side of Japan.
For me it was for my middle school Shugaku Ryokou (A school trip for graduating seniors), when I visited Kyoto last time. I had a few temples in my mind that I wanted to re-visit and show SWMBO.

One of the highlights for this trip for me was to ride on Shinkansen, a Japanese bullet train that can run with the speed up to 170mph, yet so quiet, it’s more comfortable than airplane for sure!
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Tachi-Gui-Soba:  Often at a train stations, where you can have a VERY Quick Meal.  you buy a ticket at the machine on the left, and then take it inside.  there's no seat, so you eat the noodle standing, thus Tachi (Stand) - Gui (eat) - Soba (Buckwheat noodle)
Tachi-Gui-Soba: Often at a train stations, where you can have a VERY Quick Meal. you buy a ticket at the machine on the left, and then take it inside. there’s no seat, so you eat the noodle standing, thus Tachi (Stand) – Gui (eat) – Soba (Buckwheat noodle)
One of the tradition (or should I say must have) when you ride a long distance train is to have "Eki-Ben"  each area has something they are famous for, and they make it into a lunch box.  At this store, they sell variety of lunchbox from different area.
One of the tradition (or should I say must have) when you ride a long distance train is to have “Eki-Ben” each area has something they are famous for, and they make it into a lunch box. At this store, they sell variety of lunchbox from different area.
Once i the train, lady pushes a cart-full of snacks, lunch boxes, and drinks.  She bows when she come in to cabin and leave the cabin.  very polite.  BUT  EXPENSIVE!!!!  this tiny cup of coffee cost us $3.00!!!!
Once i the train, lady pushes a cart-full of snacks, lunch boxes, and drinks. She bows when she come in to cabin and leave the cabin. very polite. BUT EXPENSIVE!!!! this tiny cup of coffee cost us $3.00!!!!

It took us just about 2 hours from Odawara (where we get on to shinkansen) to Kyoto.
and at the station, we met with our taxi driver Mr. Matsumoto. My grandmother has talked to him over the phone prior to our visit about the general places we wanted to go, so I added the temples I wanted to go to his list. Then, we are off for the Kyoto Tour!

Note: If you are comfortable traveling, I’d recommend using public transportation and go around the city based on your schedule, it will be cheaper and more relaxed. However, we were with my mom and grandmother, and also wanted to visit as many temples as I could in very short time, we decided to hire a taxi for 3 days. it was about $300 a day + parkings (which could be very expensive when you add up…).
Mr. Matsumoto gave us not just a ride from temples to temples, but also he gave us a tour. explain the history of the temples, stories behind events, and some hidden gem type places to go see, shop, and eat.

First Stop: Fushimi-Inari

Most of the temples have maps near entrance
Most of the temples have maps near entrance

The To-ri-i Gate of the Shrine.  In japan, there are Shrines and Temples.  Shrine (Jinja) for the Shintoism (Japanese native religion), and Temples (Tera) for buddhism.
The To-ri-i Gate of the Shrine. In japan, there are Shrines and Temples. Shrine (Jinja) for the Shintoism (Japanese native religion), and Temples (Tera) for buddhism.
Usually the guardians of the shrine are dog, but Inari is a place where warship a fox god, thus it is a fox guardian.
Usually the guardians of the shrine are dog, but Inari is a place where warship a fox god, thus it is a fox guardian.
Before you enter the temple, you'll find this place where you clean yourself. Wash left hand - Wash right hand - pour the water n left hand and then rinse mouse - was left hand again, then rinse the handle of the ladle.
Before you enter the temple, you’ll find this place where you clean yourself.
Wash left hand – Wash right hand – pour the water n left hand and then rinse mouse – was left hand again, then rinse the handle of the ladle.

This is what this Inari is famous for, Sen-bon-Torii.  which means 1000 Torii gates.
This is what this Inari is famous for, Sen-bon-Torii. which means 1000 Torii gates.

it almost feel like a tunnel.
it almost feel like a tunnel.

Each Torii is donated to the temple, and they are not so cheap....
Each Torii is donated to the temple, and they are not so cheap….

the only torii in Kyoto that made from bamboo.
the only torii in Kyoto that made from bamboo.

Second Stop: Tea shop
Kyoto is also famous for their tea.
so, we stopped at a small teashop and had some green tea ice-cream.

Mr. Matsumoto lead our way to the teashop.
Mr. Matsumoto lead our way to the teashop.

Tea ice-cream.
Tea ice-cream.

I had iced Ma-cha, a traditional form of tea made from tea leaf powder.
I had iced Ma-cha, a traditional form of tea made from tea leaf powder.

Third Stop: Yoshimura, Soba restaurant

After snack, we head to our lunch...
After snack, we head to our lunch…

Nishin-Soba is a famous in Kyoto.  sweet, semi-dried fish (Nishin) on top of soba.the fish was great, the soba was amazing, but... to be honest, I didn't really see the point them being together in one dish... ^^;
Nishin-Soba is a famous in Kyoto. sweet, semi-dried fish (Nishin) on top of soba.the fish was great, the soba was amazing, but… to be honest, I didn’t really see the point them being together in one dish… ^^;

we also had cold soba.  This restaurant make soba from complete scratch (from buckwheat flour), and the texture of the noodle is un comparable to anything I had elsewhere...
we also had cold soba. This restaurant make soba from complete scratch (from buckwheat flour), and the texture of the noodle is un comparable to anything I had elsewhere…

Fourth Stop: Kyomizu Temple
This is one of the famous temple in Kyoto. they are known for the deck built on the side of a mountain.
According to Mr. Matsumoto, there are different forms of buddha, and one worshipped here is in charge of Living human’s wish, (others include ones who takes care of after death etc). Which means, if you are looking to make a wish for your current life (like, being healthy, become rich, etc,) Kiyomizu Temple is the place to go. ^^;

Often, in front of a big temple has a street full of stores.  selling souvenirs, snacks, food and drinks, etc.
Often, in front of a big temple has a street full of stores. selling souvenirs, snacks, food and drinks, etc.
Kyoto has a special program that if you wear Kimono (a Traditional Japanese dress), you will get discount at stores, restaurants and public transportation.  and probably that's why there were a lot of people in kimono.  It makes girls look extra 20% cuter, and guys look 5% handsomer...
Kyoto has a special program that if you wear Kimono (a Traditional Japanese dress), you will get discount at stores, restaurants and public transportation. and probably that’s why there were a lot of people in kimono. It makes girls look extra 20% cuter, and guys look 5% handsomer…
Again, clean the body before you enter the temple.
Again, clean the body before you enter the temple.
The view from the top of the deck.  you can tell how high it is...
The view from the top of the deck. you can tell how high it is…
the deck is build with wood.  imagine building this in old days without power machines...
the deck is build with wood. imagine building this in old days without power machines…

Fifth Stop: Ginkaku-Ji (Silver Temple)
This, often compared side by side with Kinkaku-ji (Golden Temple), is a temple build to enjoy watching moon. (though it’s temple, many of them are build as a tea house as well).
Unlike Kinkakuji is actually covered in gold as its name shows, Ginkaku-ji is not covered in silver.
and to be honest, When I visited back in middle school, I wasn’t that impressed…
However, in this trip, this is one of my most favorite temple in Kyoto. It has something in its air that brings you a peace to your mind, and just feel relaxed.

Ginkaku-ji.  as you can see, it is not silver at all... just an old building...  in old days, they had a teach sitting at the first floor of this temple and while watching moon.
Ginkaku-ji. as you can see, it is not silver at all… just an old building… in old days, they had a teach sitting at the first floor of this temple and while watching moon.
this sand mound is representing a mountain.
this sand mound is representing a mountain.
The pattern on the sand is imitation of ocean.
The pattern on the sand is imitation of ocean.
From the tearoom, you would be watching the moon rising above the mountain, shining over the ocean.
From the tearoom, you would be watching the moon rising above the mountain, shining over the ocean.
The black and white color of the buildings and natural green (and soon to be firing red in fall).
The black and white color of the buildings and natural green (and soon to be firing red in fall).

Final Stop: Dinner at Man-Shige

One of the restaurants in Kyoto having a long history serving traditional Kyoto style menus.
One of the restaurants in Kyoto having a long history serving traditional Kyoto style menus.

The traditional meal (not a home meal, but somewhat formal meal at restaurants), comes as a course meal of a lot of small dishes. Usually you just pick the price and the restaurant will prepare based on the price and what ingredients are in season. I think the course we picked was about $100 / person, but don’t know much about the details though…

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It's all about the seasonal ingredients.  Ginko nuts, chestnuts, Grilled fish such etc...
It’s all about the seasonal ingredients. Ginko nuts, chestnuts, Grilled fish such etc…
followed by Sashimi.
followed by Sashimi.
Dobin-Mushi is a soup dish cooked in Dobin (Teapot).
Dobin-Mushi is a soup dish cooked in Dobin (Teapot).
Matsutake Mushroom, fish meat, and Japanese  parsley are cooked in the broth.
Matsutake Mushroom, fish meat, and Japanese parsley are cooked in the broth.
The season is Fall, so they use Fall themed dishes
The season is Fall, so they use Fall themed dishes
Inside, there's their signature dish, Snapper Head.  Cooked to the perfection with sugar and soy sauce, it's not too sweet, not too salty, and the fish meat just fall off of its bone
Inside, there’s their signature dish, Snapper Head. Cooked to the perfection with sugar and soy sauce, it’s not too sweet, not too salty, and the fish meat just fall off of its bone
I do not remember exactly, but it was a vinegar-ed seasonal vegetable.
I do not remember exactly, but it was a vinegar-ed seasonal vegetable.
Grilled seafood on salt base.  salt suppose to hold the heat and keep the food warm.
Grilled seafood on salt base. salt suppose to hold the heat and keep the food warm.
As usual traditional course meal goes, the last dish is rice and soup.  For the season, it was Matsutake Rice, and Shijimi (small clam) Miso Soup.
As usual traditional course meal goes, the last dish is rice and soup. For the season, it was Matsutake Rice, and Shijimi (small clam) Miso Soup.
The desert was melon (it was ripen all the way to the skin), pear and persimmon.
The desert was melon (it was ripen all the way to the skin), pear and persimmon.

After dinner, we went straight to the hotel, and strait to the bed… after a lot of walk, the bed was like a heaven!

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