Thursday, 9 April 2009

Kyoto part VII (last one - I swear!)

Monday (continued)

I don't know if the day got colder then, or if we realized how cold it was because of the snow. We were after a tea shop recommended in our book. After walking past the place marked on our map a couple times, I went into a shop selling chopsticks and pottery to ask directions. I repeated the name of the tea shop - along with the word matcha - to the ancient lady behind the counter. She grabbed a cane and hobbled out to the street to point at a nondescript store front with neither English signage nor plastic food. I gave her a thank-you in Japanese (about the only thing I can say in Japanese other than names of food items). The tea shop was in an tiny old building, everything made of wood from floor to ceiling. Inside it was cosy and warm, with a space heater humming away in one corner. We both ordered matcha, which came with two sweets made of rice and adzuki beans, and took our time sipping the rich green tea as our hands and toes warmed up.


It was even colder, with the weather report calling for rain. Despite the large number of shrines, temples, and gardens we hadn't seen yet, there was no way we were doing anything out of doors in that weather. So we planned a trip to some sake breweries. This was meant to be easy, requiring very little time out of doors. However, or map led us astray. First up was Gekkeikan brewery, but we ended up at their central brewery, which is not open to the public. I am pleased to report, I was able to make out from the Japanese characters that we were in Gekkeikan territory of some kind, and I walked into their offices asking for the location of the sake museum (their tourist facilities, where we might learn about sake and also taste some). After waiting patiently while the staff discussed the matter at length, someone showed up who could speak a little English. He gave us a map, and better instructions. We thanked him profusely and headed out. That's when the snow started coming down in earnest, and we started to realise we had been unwise to leave the hostel without umbrellas. We had just started down the street, when a lady hurried up to us and asked us to wait here: someone would drive us to the sake museum! We were very thankful for the ride. The museum was interesting, and the sake was tasty. We bought a bottle of sake and a bottle of plum wine as well.

Loren with Sake fermetation barrel at Gekkeikan

Loren with large sake fermentation tank at Gekkeikan Sake Museum

A short venture in the snow found us at stop number two: Kizakura Kappa Country, a sake and beer brewery. We got a very tasty lunch at their restaurant, and a flight of three little glasses of beer to taste. We guessed them as a lager, an Irish red style, and a hefewizen style. They were all tasty, and unsurprisingly we both liked the hefewizen best. They had a museum as well, though it was smaller and we were glad we'd seen Gekkeikan's first as this one had no English signs. In addition, however, they had a little museum dedicated to the kappa, a mythical creature, that apparently is know for being sneaky, and looks something like an anthropomorphic cross between a frog and a turtle.

Loren eating noodles, Kizakura Sake Brewery

Loren slurping noodles at Kizakura's restaurant

Kappa scuplture, Kizakura sake brewery

Somewhat lewd kappa sculpture at Kizakura's kappa museum

After that we called it a day. The weather was miserable; we bought a cheap umbrella at a corner store and headed home.


It was my turn to be sick. Spent most of the day on the couch in the lounge drinking tea and reading my book. Loren did some wandering around the city without me.


Last day. I was feeling a little better, we mostly just got ourselves packed and headed to the airport around mid-day.

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