steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

Voyage to Japan 2: 2nd April

You'll possibly be pleased to know that I have very little to say about Fushimi Inari Taisha, except that - for someone of my particular sensibilities, at least - it was great. I've always inclined to animism ("When all our fathers worshipped stocks and stones" is a line that makes me nostalgic for the good old days), so it's great to see a whole mountain covered in torii, in shrines large and small, in red-bibbed fox messengers of the divine and real cats (I'm not sure why the last are there, but they are). The whole pilgrimage takes about two hours of walking and climbing, so it's a stretch but not an intimidating prospect, and like all pilgrimages it's an experience partly communal, partly solitary. Rather than talk any more, I'll just give you a few peeks at my own experience, including (because it's food) the tempura udon I had at a way station about halfway up. The amazake I drank when I got to the bottom remains unpictured (it was from a little stall run by a friendly woman off the main track, and I'd have felt self-conscious photographing it) - but it was the perfect way to end the trip.


Back in the Floating World, I went to Gion for dinner, and to look at the charming streets of that old entertainment quarter - as well of course as to sample the cherry blossom at night, thus reviving one of last year's pleasant memories:


Setting out, I'd been keen to find some unagi - but I was distracted by a sign outside an Italian restaurant, which promised to bring the freshness of Kyoto's vegetables to Italian cuisine. I was intrigued, and hungry. Inside the tiny little restaurant in the tine little street was a tiny little bar, that would hold about eight people at most. But they did serve very nice food, along with Japanese wine produced just outside Kyoto. First came a selection of hors-d'oeuvres, including a rather good pate. Then spaghetti with vegetables - which really were delicious, though I had finished my first glass by this time and the waiter disappeared for about ten minutes, leaving me a bit dry-mouthed... After that came Kyoto beef with a drizzle of port wine, and finally a sprig of sakura lying on a pillow of tofu, with a sprinkle of matcha tea powder. What could be more quintessentially Italian? It was excellent, though - as you might expect when two of the world's best cuisines meet:


Finally, I went for a late-night stroll (Japan is such a safe place!) where amongst many more modern sights, I had this rather lovely vision of an older Kyoto, down a street of traditional (in all but price) Japanese restaurants....


And that seems a good note on which to leave Kyoto. Osaka next!
Tags: nippon notes, real life, voyage to japan
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