I walked out my hostel door June 25th on a mission to see gardens, visit temples, and take in the atmosphere of Kyoto. My first stop was the Shosei-en gardens, which have a small (500 yen) entry fee. Quite reasonable; so far nothing in Japan was more than 600 yen entry, about $7. The lake at Shosei-en was particularly scenic and peaceful, even on a cloudy & rainy day.
I tried one of these small plums (one that had fallen on the ground). It was really sour. But they certainly look nice:
Next I saw the big temples in the middle of Kyoto, each of which is part of a spiritual complex occupying a whole city block. The temple on the east side is the biggest wooden building in the world – my lens wasn’t wide enough to get it all in one shot! Here’s the slightly smaller west temple, Hongwanji, in a 12-photo panorama.
What surprised me most about the day was this cream puff. They cost 126 yen, or about $1.40, so I ordered one. Before I knew it, the puff was packed in a fancy bag and sealed with a metallic foil sticker. The saleswoman then filled another small bag with dry ice chips, placed that in a cardboard box, taped it shut, and put it in the bottom of a third bag, with the cream puff bag on top. They said something about three hours, which I suppose is the time this thing would keep before getting home to the fridge.
I ate it five minutes later.
The green tea cream puff was divine, just like everything made with green tea here. In case you want less packaging, try some waving and hand-motions. That worked the next time I bought a slice of cake, and I got away with two less bags. Long live the environment!
There’s almost no end to what I saw today. Here are the vermillion gates of the Inari shrine. I thought it was going to be just one row of these gates. Actually it’s about 4 kilometers of them, with shrines every few hundred meters. Local businesses donate money for the gates; I suppose it brings good fortune.
Here’s one of the hand-washing pools at Inari. Drooling Dragon!
I’ll have to do more articles about this day after my return to Germany. The raw chicken on rice (with an uncooked egg yolk on top) is something that many Japanese I spoke to hadn’t even seen! Anyone ever eaten raw chicken?