Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Eating Well While Travelling In Japan - Part 5 - Kyoto Dining (Gion, Ootoya, Kiyomizudera, Kyoto Station Ramen)

This was our last morning in Kyoto and we had a pretty full day ahead.  While everyone else was getting ready to head out for the day, I ran out to the Lawson to get breakfast.  I picked up a bunch of different riceballs, can of hot coffee, and a baumkuchen from the convenience store.  The riceballs are always pretty good with salmon, tuna, veggies, and a umi (pickled plum).  The baumkuchen is a pretty good baked sponge cake (with a big hole in the middle like a donut) and it was really good for something from the corner store.  When we were down at Nishiki Market there was a bakery there that made the regular size baumkuchen and I saw that they were baked around these big rods in an oven.
Konbini riceballs.  All fresh as they would have been stocked that morning.  One of the things about Japanese konbini is that busy stores may get restocked once or twice a day from the factory.
Our breakfast.
We were heading out to Nanzenji Temple which is nestled at the base of the mountains just NE of our hotel in Gion.  It is a 30 to 40 minute walk, but the bus doesn't seem too much faster from our location.  We were going to see that, then tour Gion, and  finally see Kiyomizudera Temple.  It would be a ton of walking today.
We cut through the grounds of Yasaka Shrine early enough that the vendors had not set up yet.
The walk to Nanzenji skirted a number of parks and temples along the way and it was quite a pleasant walk.  We reached Nanzenji and it was a really beautiful temple complex with a grand old gate, one of the largest ancient ones that had a balconey level for people way up high.
Back side of Nanzenji old main gate.
Main temple building (Hojo)
Aqueduct with water from Lake Biwa

The main rock garden inside the main temple building.
There are several sub temples here too, but this was the main thing we wanted to see.  It was time for a slightly early lunch as we walked a short distance over to the subway that took us back to northern Gion at Sanjo Station.  Near this station, on the other side of the river is the north end of Pontocho and many resturants, including a Starbucks with a great river terrace in the summer.  It was a coolish morning and we opted to go to Ootoya with serves Teishoku meals.  Ootoya is a chain that has even expanded to the USA, but I've never been to it.  I've heard their food is pretty good and reasonably priced.  After trying it, I agree.
Ootoya Menu
I ordered a Fired Pork Cutlet Stew with rice and miso soup.  It was very tasty with a savory soy based soup/sauce.  There was a nice mix of veggies to go with the cutlet.
We also tried a grilled mackerel lunch with veggies and rice.  This was also really good. A seaweed garnish came with the fish and grated daikon and soy for eating with the fish.
After lunch we walked through Pontocho which doesn't really liven up until evening as it is more of a bar and nightspot type of street, but we wouldn't be back to see it then.
Pontocho main street.
The Kamo River which has Pontocho on the left (west) and Gion on the right (east).
At the south end of Pontocho we were back on the main street of Shijo Dori and walked back into Gion proper there.  From here we would go down all the side streets to see the preserved side of Gion more.
Shijo Dori.  The main street through Gion.  It doesn't look busy here, but it is a bustling place most of the time, including the evenings.
There are a number of preserved streets or traditional streets you can walk through to get to Kiyomizudera Temple via Gion.  I highly recommend this walk.  These streets are where all the tourist gift shops and food stalls are in Gion too.  There are really good crafts to buy here along with all the other souvenirs you would want to buy.  It isn't over done and the tourism shopping is for both Japanese and foreigners.  You climb up the hill on these streets until you reach the very popular and very large temple complex of Kiyomizudera.
The famous wooden stage at the main shrine building at Kiyomizudera.  The place is amazing, but a little less so when we went as it was very very crowded.
After visting the temple, it was getting late in the day and we needed to snack and shop for our souvenirs such as kimono and pottery.  There were many small Japanese bakeries or outlets of Japanese bakeries here.
Red bean pastry with the temple.  Cute!
An fried noodle steamed bun.  Kind of strange, but kind of tasty.
The red bean pastries shaped like traditional hats from Ajari Mochi hompo Mangetsu bakery outlet store.  These were very nicely done pastries from this famous local bakery.
Tired, we made it back to the hotel for a break, but I needed to buy Shinkansen tickets back to Tokyo so we made an evening trip down to Kyoto Station.  We hadn't had a chance to really explore the train station which is an architectural wonder and it is even cooler at night as the place lights up.  It is a vast building and very airy.

Kyoto Station.  You can tell Christmas is coming.
We are looking down on the Christmas tree shown in the first photo.  As you can tell, we are way up here on the massive staircase that leads to the roof.  The staircase here lights up and can act as seating for concerts.
Way up high on the staircase is Kyoto Station Ramen Street.  There are ten different ramen shops here.  It was calling out to us so we had ramen for dinner!  I love eating ramen when I'm in Japan.
You order your ramen from the machine which spits out tickets that tell the staff what you have ordered.  The area was busy, but we only had to wait for a few minutes before being seated at a counter.
Tasty Kyoto style ramen from Masutani.  They serve thin noodles in a thick pork and soy broth with plenty of green onions, soft boiled egg, and pork.  This place is a local chain established in 1948.  It was super tasty and filling.
Everyone was hungry in a different way so we ended up ordering a small ramen, a regular ramen, and a large ramen.  Kind of like the three bears and Goldilocks.  Each one was just right.
That was pretty much the end of our Kyoto dining for the trip.  The next morning we would head back to Tokyo for a few days before leaving back to Canada.

Tokyo and Kyoto Trip Fall 2016 

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