Day 11: Kyoto
QOTD: Do you want to sit in the front seat?
Weather: mid 80s
Pics: Moss Temple, Tenryu-ji monastery, bamboo forest, lunch spot, Ryoanji Temple, Takashimaya display, shots of dinner when camera was working
The breakfast buffet at the Hyatt Regency is the stuff of dreams. THB has been thinking about it for three years. It lives up to the memories: strong decaf au laits, great baguette, sausage, bacon and eggs, mini chocolate croissants (with almonds on top), and raisin toast. Tomorrow: THB starts on the fruit, smoked meats, prosciutto, yogurts, etc. Maybe on Wednesday THB thinks about returning to the Japanese breakfast. TBD….
Bed is firm; it’s no Route Inn Hotel hard. THB is trying hard here to not start over talking about the breakfast.
Today is Temple and taxi day; we meet E&J in lobby around 9 and cab to the Saiho-ji Moss Temple on the outreaches of Kyoto. The entrance fee is $30pp (cash only), the highest around (in all of Japan? Maybe). Before touring the moss garden (which is special), a group limited to 150 (it might be 75 in morning, 75 in afternoon) congregate in one of the temple buildings, listen to monks chant (mesmerizing) for 20 minutes, paint our wishes and address on wooden “ruler” size sticks, then present the sticks to the appropriate gods, bow, and then walk the grounds.
Taxi to the Tenryu-Zen Monastery, $5/pp entrance, which is half price today because the main temple is undergoing repairs. A view of a very serene little lake, and then we walk through the grounds to exit into a bamboo forest. THB and DB have hiked through several bamboo forests this past week and this one is not bad! Lots of celadon “trunks” (does bamboo have a tree trunk? A stalk? A shoot?), very pretty.
A short stroll down the side of the Monastery to a shopping street where we find a noodle spot for lunch: two tempura shrimp and cold soba noodle combos, shared beer, $30, and a box of cinnamon-flavored manju to share, $5.
Taxi to Ryoanji Temple, $5.pp entrance fee, a view of a 25x50 foot spectacular rock garden, something THB does not remember seeing 3 years ago. Also a well done garden.
Taxi to the Gold Pavilion, also known as Kankaku-ji, another $5/pp entrance fee, and a view of a very impressive gold-leaf multi-story pagoda in the midst of a small lake. Unfortunately, THB’s camera goes balky again here, so no pics (E&J will forward some for later viewing).
Taxi to the last temple of the day, the Takashimaya department store. By now, you’ve figured out we must be running short of cash, so our first visit it to the seventh (and top) floor to visit the post office ATM. This time, we withdraw from two accounts, we’re now cash heavy (also coin heavy, it is tough to get rid of all the coins that come your way in a cash based society where the smallest bill is equal to $10 at today’s exchange rate).
E&J&DB do some small shopping, THB does some sitting in the always convenient boyfriend chair.
Taxi back to the Hyatt Regency to rest up before…yes, another taxi to dinner.
Dinner at Bow Sprit is unbelievably good, and not just by hiking standards. It is unbelievably good by Bay Area standards (and if this is a mediocre meal for Kyoto, Kyoto is the best eating city in the world). And, the camera continues to be balky, so THB cannot show how great the presentation was, and it was really good. We are the only ones here tonight, though there is plenty of room for others. The only person we see, our waitress, is almost literate in English in explaining the dishes, and when she struggles to find the right words, uses a Toshiba version of the i-pad to help us.
Appetizers (all small): noodles with roe, sesame tofu two ways, veggies in gelatin, bluten stick with miso, salmon sashimi
Three pieces of sashimi with Kyoto lime
Chrysanthemum soup with something soft underneath (scum of tofu curds)
Stacked salad, from bottom: eggplant, tomato, fried fish "stick", shredded lettuce and balsamic dressing
Potato and rice cracker with hints of veggies (think matzoh ball) in thick gluten floating on top of egg custard (better than it looked or sounded, the custard is great)
Combo plate: chestnut (in chestnut looking "shell") on top of potato birds nest, thin slices of rare roast beef, assorted veggies, small tempura mushroom and "pine needle" of toasted soba noodles
Four pieces of sushi rice topped with pickled cucumber, eggplant, ginger, Chinese cabbage
Green tea, pineapple sorbet (though some thought it was grapefruit)
Draft beers, sake, $97/couple