Friday, 20 March 2009

Kyoto part IV

27th February

3:15 pm

The weather is crap so I've only made one major trip out today, and I keep checking to see how Loren's doing. Info on the tournament is being added to Magic The Gathering's site as it happens. Loren's at 34th place if anyone cares to know. Only one lost match so far, and he's still in the top 50. Three more matches to go.


I walked Loren to the station, but didn't feel like making the treck out there with him. It was early, I was sleepy, and aside from the featured artist table there wouldn't be much for me to do. Magic doesn't make a very good spectator sport. I did a lot of nothing much in the morning, waiting for the day to warp up a bit. Then I made the trip into downtown Kyoto on the subway. I wasn't feeling very good. When I resized that I'd hardly had a vegetable since we got here - mostly just noodles, meat and fish - I figured that probably wasn't helping. The only thing along my route that sounded veggie-friendly was a French restaurant and the guide book promised the staff could speak English. I had a nicoise salad, which made me feel a lot better.

I could smell the tea shop before I saw it. Suddenly the smell of green tea was in the air - the place itself looked ancient, everything well-worn wood. Everything was in Japanese; I was relieved when one of the staff offered me a brochure in English, set out a tray of tea samples to smell, and gestured to a chair. I decided on a mid-range matcha and a roasted bancha.


Japanese Teas

I didn't take any photos that day. So I'm using this photo of the teas I bought. Bancha is a category of least-refined everyday teas. The type I bought is called hojicha which is a roasted green tea, light brown in colour. It was common to get complimentary tea instead of water at restaurants in Japan, usually a bancha. Matcha on the other hand is a very special type of Japanese tea. It is usually described as "powdered green tea." This means it's actually green tea leaves ground to a fine powder. Traditionally, you add a small scoop of the powder to a bowl with hot water in it, then use a special matcha whisk to suspend the powder in the water, making the tea a bit frothy. You then drink the whole thing down, consuming the powdered tea leaf with the tea. It has a rich, distinctive taste that is unlike other types of green tea. This is what is used in the famous "Japanese tea ceremony." In the photo, the matcha is the little tin that I haven't yet taken the fancy washi paper wrapping off of.

And I'll toss one more random photo in here, since today's entry is light on photos (don't worry, the next one will more than make up for it).

toilet with sink
Toilet with sink built in - sink water runs when toilet is flushed, and drains into the toilet bowl. Only one of the strange toilet designs we saw in Japan.

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