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Published: October 27th 2019
By this point we have the trains down so none of that WHY DIDN'T you get off the train?! that was our stop!!nonsense! that we experienced getting to Hakone. Getting to Kyoto was easy breezy from Tokyo. We did a quick luggage drop at our hotel as we have also figured out that the check-in time in Japan IS THE CHECK-IN time and headed over to Nishiki market. Which can I say that I LOVE that the pasmo card I use for public transit works in a completley different city and that is freaking awesome. Anyhoo, I have never been a fan of street meat even when it comes nicely packaged as stall meat. So this market was cool, but I really only tried one thing and snagged a bag of cucumber kimchi at this spot that had everything you could imagine pickled or vinegared or smothered in delcious kimchi spices. SOOO good (Susan agrees - all the things were yummy and they had samples). And I (Susan) ate lots of things from different stalls - I didn't realize it until much later but the food was priced really reasonable compared to other markets like this. And there was a lot
more variety of foods than in other markets like this around cities we visited. I (Toisha) was also super fatigued and kinda tired and my body was secretly waging a war against my first cold of the trip. So I was basically hangry at this market and wound up eating at a Matsuya which is basically comfort food in kind of a sad setting with a bunch of single men. But it was a delicious lunch set of gingered pork with rice and salad. so yeah. (But it was also the dirtiest place we've been in in Japan - Susan went up to the bathroom and decided to avoid it).
After the market, we just wandered around in the area and wound up sitting along the river and watching the sunset with some fine wine and cheap beers purchased at ye old 7-and holding. Susan watched the grey herons and egrets for like an hour - they were incredible when they opened their wings. We ended the night with eats from our neigborhood 7-11 as well and the worst pork buns I have ever had from 551 Horai. Not a fan. at all. (But Susan wanted to try it
because there was a huge line - we've now learned that lines don't indicate a good place because later we tried a conveyer belt sushi place that had an hour wait and it was AWFUL). Next morning, we were up not to early and parting ways as Susan was off to the Fox Shrine and I was off to a kaiseki lunch at Nakamura. I had explicity stated I do not eat uni. It was all over my first dish. This was a prepaid meal. They presented us with a check at the end. The highlight was the tofu and the miso. That's all I have to say about that lackluster lunch. Susan went to the Fox Shrine and had done no research beforehand, so I didn't know that I would be walking up a mountain. Fortunately, I had both walking sticks. The next day, my brother did the walk in less than 90 minutes, but I took 3 hours. I also walked 75 per cent of the way up through the bamboo forest (which was way better than the arashiyama one) and got nervous that I was getting lost so I walked all the way back (where I discovered
a sign that said I had been going the right way). However, I did make it up to the top, and much of the walk I was all by myself. It was amazing and I fell in love with the foxes and all the different shrines.
So we make our way over to the old town area to just walk around and wait until we meet up with Susan. We stop in at this shrine and I have my first encounter with a Japanese squat toilet. I was interesting. I was very fearful of squat splashback and losing my balance and dropping anything below me. Also you had to pay for TP, but I always carry extra napkins around so they did't get any of my yen. After walking around the shrine for a bit, we decided we would get a drink and after walking for 20 mins down a main strip we literally could not find a bar or any place selling alcohol we wound up at the train station where Susan was arriving and decided to just meet here there. Of course she misses the stop and then somehow exits wrong and I have never heard her
complain about stairs until today. There were apparantly a ton of stairs at the station (it was like six flights after walking up the mountain). We easily make our way over to the old town area. It was pretty neat, saw several couples and folx in kimonos and even one Geisha on our way home. AND there was a branch of Dandelion chocolate there was I was able to have my first chocolate in Japan :] We made our way back to Yasaka shrine and the lanterns were finally lit up.
Remember that war my body was waging? Well it lost and I was in bed sick all of our third day in Kyoto. I (Susan) did laundry, which is very cool in Japan. They have large washer/dryer combos that already have detergent in them, so you just put in your clothes and pay by weight and then come back and they are done. Why don't we have these machines in the United States? They are way better at working quickly with a lot of clothes than the 2 in 1 machines I had known before. After the laundry and getting lunch for Toisha (which was an adventure through
Kyoto Station which is massive with food three stories below and ten floors above that I was proud to have endured but now know for sure that I find crowded places to be very overwhelming), I went to the monkey area with my brother. We got there 30 minutes before it closed, and unlike anywhere else in Japan, learned that we could still go in and they really wouldn't kick us out until an hour later. Which was a good thing because it took me 30 minutes just to get to the top. I know that these monkeys are hanging around because of the food and it is more like a zoo than a wild area, but it was totally worth it. Japanese monkeys are gorgeous and I could have spent 2 hours or more just watching the babies and adults running around. Then I went to see the bamboo forest. It is not immersive like the pictures show and many japanese gardens have better groves, so it was sad that we did this rather than the shrine. I was exhausted by this point with my feet hurting a lot so that was the end of the day.
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