Arigatogozaimasu, Kyoto

This is a final posting on my adventures in Kyoto, and I will select a number of memorable images that caught my attention, and therefore warranted me to take out the camera.  It is a cornucopia of food, street art, culture.

Thank you Kyoto.

Nishiki Market is one place to blow the senses.  This market is a long alley, flanked by hundreds of stores selling all sorts of stuff.  It is 5 blocks long, and I trained hard on the treadmill to get my stamina up before I attempted the walk in Nishiki market.

Vegetables – so fresh and appealing that I wanted to be a vegetarian

Seafood – so fresh and appealing that I cannot be a vegetarian

Tsukemono (pickled stuff) – so many varieties that it was mind-boggling.  The pickled stuff I get back home are limited to the salty-to-death, and threats of carcinogenic ingredients in the pickling process.

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Ready-to-eat food – the salt-baked fish (ayu) is truly the tastiest fish I ever had.  I have never seen this in Tokyo, but my first encounter with this fish was in Kyoto.  Ayu, I will always love you.

Cucumber – when the weather gets too warm, and you want to get something to cool the body but not the 6,800 calories of ice-cream.  “Cucumber-on-a-stick.  Looks like ice-cream, but not an ice-cream”

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Dried food – the impact some of them make.  A simple corn starch can beautify a dish.  I forgot to buy this home, to astound and impress my dinner guests, who universally think I am lousy in food asthetics.  My dinner guests would rather die of food colouring than eat bland-looking cooking.

Japanese room dividers – they are called noren, and I loved this one.  But it was so expensive..  It was a toss between allocating budget for cloth, or more uni.  More uni were sacrificed in the ultimate decision made.

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Souvenir knick-knacks.  Japanese love their cats.  Cats have a preferential status in Japan.  I don’t know why, and I don’t understand.  I remember reading somewhere that in 2016, cats are a $25BILLION industry.  I remember falling off the chair because I was reviewing the quarterly business numbers, and our superior, life-altering, die-die must have technology’s revenue didn’t come anywhere close to these grumpy furball.

I believe the colourful balls are Daruma dolls, that are not made of wood but fabric.  You can only find Daruma dolls in Japan; and there is quite an interesting read about them.  Daruma dolls are linked to religion, but this space is not wikipedia, so I won’t go into the details.

Shop shutters that double up as art canvas – calligraphic art on the metal shutters.  How cool!

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Sake shops – it was like stepping into paradise.  And I had tinglings of seizure becos of the excitement building up within..

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I have always preferred wet/fresh markets to departmental stores in whichever city I visit.  The only exception is in Japan.  I easily fall in love with the basement level at the department stores becos that’s where the most beautiful foodstuff (in the entire galaxy) are located.  It’s simply food porn.  It’s where I try to walk normally, but every fiber in my body within screams “I WANT TO BUY EVERY.SINGLE.ONE.OF.THEM”.  And I wish I print money for a living.

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The toilets in Japan deserve a UNESCO Heritage status.  They were so beautiful and clean that my toilet at home looks like a public toilet instead.

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A public toilet at Arashiyama
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A toilet in one of the temples in Kyoto

The Japanese food presentation got me sobbing.  I lunched at Lumiere and ordered salad.  Simple enough?  But when the server brought this plate in front of me, my jaw slacked.  And every bite of every piece of food, I wept a tear.

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And one day when I passed a construction site, I screeched with disbelief..they even put plastic flowers to beautify the bland, temporary walls surrounding the construction site!

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Although tea is traditionally the mainstream drink in Japan, coffee is catching up real fast.  And at those small coffee joints I visited, the baristas/owners were serious about their cuppa.  Therefore one had to be patient waiting for the brew.  It was actually quite fun to browse the shop while waiting for the coffee.  Some of the coffee contraptions looked like the owners just robbed a chemistry lab.

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A friend once told me, Japanese are craftsmen.  Indeed they are..

I saw some rice-straw brooms at Takashimaya.  Wait!  They were being steamed..you know, like a face steam to ensure sufficient moisture.  What sort of broom gets this “spa treatment”??!

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Actually, these beautifully hand-bound ones.  And they weren’t cheap at all!  Those tiny brooms (left pic) that were just the right size to sweep the nostrils, costs US$10++++.  Yes, a full size broom, like the ones hanging over the steamer, could costs ~ US$100+++++.  My mom would faint at the price-tag.

But I could imagine why they were priced that way..after I saw this master at work.

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Thank you Kyoto, for a memorable adventure.

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