Took the Shinkansu from Okayama to Osaka, where we were met by Professor Shirota, his wife Nobuku and one of his Associate Professors, Hiro. We left the platform early at Osaka station and so managed to miss Professor Shirota and his wife. Luckily they’d covered all possibilities and Hiro was waiting to intercept us at the hotel! This is our third Granvia (and sadly the worst of the them so far). We’re here for 6 nights. There is a good view of the Umeda Sky Building from my room, which is compensation.
Today’s Saturday and Nobuku and Hiro took Sarah, Robert and I for a great tour of Kyoto starting at the Heian Jingu Shrine and torii.
The shrine had very beautiful and peaceful gardens, which we explored in the gentle rain. The cherry blossom was just opening and there were cherry and plum trees in flower here and there , but the main blossoming is probably a week away. Apparently the gardens are very busy then, and we were lucky to be able to enjoy both the tranquility and the cherry blossom today. I also enjoyed spotting myrtle trees (one for Michael) that I’d first seen in Argentina only a couple of weeks ago.
We saw the first of a batch of weddings held today, photo’s later…
Nobuku and Hiro took us for a beautiful lunch at Rokusei. We had a bento ‘bucket’. The main little dish contained little raw elvers which were good to try. We had to walk through a wedding photo lineup on out way out. Rokusei is a popular place for wedding functions apparently.
We wandered around some atmpospheric streets, dipping in and out of shops and passing through another temple where were close to a shintowedding party. The party as a whole was sombre in contrast to a western wedding: no smiling faces during their formal walk across the shrine grounds. After the ceremony the bride was smiling for the photographs though. I think there were six weddings happening at the same time.
We stopped for some matcha tea and mochi (small rice jelly sweets) covered in soy flour and matcha. Rob loved the matcha tea so much that he’s now our matcha, matcha man.
Onwards to visit the huge Kiyomizu Templewhich is a famous Buddhist temple, built on wooden platforms on the side of a hill overlooking Kyoto.
There had been gentle rain for most of the day so the view of Kyoto from the temple was obscured. Despite the crowds there was a lovely feeling of tranquility. We wandered through the temple gardens to various viewpoints and to see the Otowa-no-taki..
Nobuku and Hiro took us shopping in the massive and massively impressive Kyoto Station Shopping Centre.
Rob bought some matcha and a bamboo whisk to make it. The matcha came with preciseinstructions on how to prepare the tea. I bought a bag of green tea, then went a bit mad and threw in a bag of rice tea and a bag of posh green tea tea bags. The Japanese green tea is very nice but I couldn’t find or explain well enough how to get the very fresh, almost sea-weed flavoured tea that we had at Okayama university. I was tempted to buy a set of rice bowls but they worked out between £5-£30 per bowl.
We met Professor Shirota for dinner at the New Miyako Hotelwhich is very smart and we had a very nice western-style meal, with red wine and rare beef, soup and fish courses. The French wine was very fine. We were all a bit tired after our walking the city and Professor Shirota’s arrival and good company livened us all up again.
It was a wonderful day in Kyoto.