Duty Free, food and tea

January 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

The kids were up to their generally selves and were driving us mad, as a result we decided to try the handicrafts at the Duty Free on Marutamachi-dori not far from the Three Sisters’ Ryokan.  BTW….our ryokan has been visited by Senator Kennedy and family members of the Bushes.  The duty-free shop was the usual cheesy stuff but the handicraft centre did wonders for the kids.   Claire worked on painting a clay doll bell and William made a cotton top.  Both crafts did take about 30 minutes and we hung out to check out some of the wood block painting and other regular duty-free things. One interesting thing about Kyoto is there are quite a few options for people to try their hand at crafts such a pottery, painting, doll making, wood blocks etc.  A good way to break up the trip for restless kids.

After a simple donburi lunch we headed off to Nijo Castle.  it was quite beautiful and elegant.  The front gate towards the castle was very detailed and breath-taking.   The walk through the castle itself was quite fast and simple.  The kids were having fun walking through the castle with its squeeky floor.  The floor was built with an alarm system where it would chirp when weight was placed on it….the nightingale floors.   Quite clever and very effective.  I could never sleep in a house with squeaky floors.   The grounds were very manicured as expected with some crazy shaped trees which grow twisted and arched.  I felt as if I were stuck in the creepy forest in Snow White or Sleepy Hollow.   The general architecture is heavy set – as a fortress would be with strong geometric shapes thorough out the moat and main structure.  The spaces within are vast and warmed by murals thorough out.   I especially enjoyed the mixture of heavy stones set off by the warm wood of the main building.

After a Nijo Castle, we were in search of mochi for Claire.  We headed off to Nishiki Market and started by Diamaru.  The market itself is a wonderful selection of pickles, grilled fish, fresh fish etc.  We had a great time just looking at what Kyoto had to offer.  We found a dessert place midway in the market which filled our food request.   Outside of the shop were displays of the different mochi and we all ordered different different mochi in order to taste as many different ones as we could.  After the mochi we continued along and found the handmade knives at the end of the market.  This area of town was great for traditional types of shops as well and modern fun shops.   We found Mumokuteki www.mumokuti.com which I thought is a cool hip shop with a cafe, foods, clothing and housewares, further along we as we search for a tea shop we bumped into a converted VW van selling waffles and a queue outside of a cute clean white stand for Hara Donuts http://haradonuts.jp/ which would have eaten if it wer not for the mochi 15 minutes earlier.   I think we are in heaven with all this great food and shopping….

But we are in search of Ippodo Tea www.ippodo-tea.co.jp.  This tea shop has been around since he 1717 and we weren’t about to leave without some tea.  It wasn’t hard to find, but it was getting cold and dark and it looked as if we would be caught with the doors closed for business.  But luckily for us, tea is a thriving business and they were still open passed 6pm.   The tea shop itself is lined with dark vasts which I assume had tea in them one time and at the front displays of the different teas to choose and taste.   I love the rich feel of the interior and we sat by the bar at the back were we tasted different varieties of green tea and rice tea.  In the end we bought Matcha Tancho-no-mukashi for Reid and roasted rice tea for me.  Once again, had we not has mochi not so long ago I definitely would have stopped by their tea house next door and ordered finger foods just to taste.

By the time we got back to the Three Sisters, we were all tired and started to get hungry.  Too lazy to go too far we headed out the door for Okonomiyaki Rogu on 1-2 Higashi-machi, Shougoin, Saky0-ku.  A simple place run by an older woman who let me try out my hand in her kitchen.  There we ate tappen-yaki and Okonomiyaki – a type of japanese pancake with batter, eggs, cabbage, pickled ginger and a variety of fillings.   Dinner was simple and delicious.

Whew…long day….

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