Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Kyoto Day 4 - Central Kyoto

The 16 petal imperial chrysanthemum on the Imperial Palace roof

There were several fails in today's planning. Nijojo Castle and the fire ramen restaurant which were on our to see list were closed on Tuesdays! We had grouped them for today as we booked our Kyoto Imperial Palace tour when we were busy and did not think to check if other attractions around it were open for the day.

Thankfully, this slight hiccup did not prevent us enjoying our last full day in Kyoto. As mentioned earlier, foreigners wishing to visit to Kyoto Imperial Palace need to apply for and book a time slot in advance. This is free and easy to do online. The instructions are all explained on the official website. Our tour today was for 10am. Kyoto was Japan's capital for over 1000 years and it is said that the Japanese culture developed and matured in Kyoto. The current Palace was rebuilt in 1855 after a fire but was reconstructed true to the ancient styles of the former buildings down to the size of the paper lining the sliding doors. The tour was quite well organised and easy to follow. It took us on a route roughly 1km in length and took about 60 minutes. We walked around the sprawling grounds and were able to see the exteriors of various buildings.

Today's vending machine treat. Warm sweet corn drink?!? Yum says the children...

Waiting for our tour at the Seishomon Gate

Shodaibunoma - a waiting area with three separate rooms each for different ranks

The screens are painted with picture to depict rank. Cherry blossom the lowest, cranes for the middle

And the tiger for the highest ranked officials

They would then enter the Jomeimon Gate

The gate flows into the Dantei, a big courtyard which leads on to the Shishinden

Otsunegoten - the emperor's "resting" room

Oikeniwa Garden within the Palace grounds

Why a photo of this building? This is where the important conversation took place to herald the Meiji restoration which eventually moved the capital to Tokyo

With Nijojo Castle out of action today, we went straight to Nishiki Market in downtown Kyoto. A short strip running over several blocks, it was lined on both sides with stalls selling seemingly everything! There were fresh seafood, cooked seafood, tea, kitchenware, honey, pickles and preserves, restaurants, souvenir shops, and shops selling things I couldn't recognise! Our highlight today from the markets though, was being interviewed and filmed for a Japanese TV show! They wanted to see us eat sashimi on a stick. The bonus for us was free sashimi!

Nishiki Market

Selling all sorts of things!

Soy doughnuts - famous and VERY good!

We also tried the squid on stick

Scallop on stick

The very kind roasted chestnut man who gave the children and extra 200g of chestnuts! They were supposed to only get 300g 

Warm roasted chestnuts so nice in winter

Today's matcha item. Popcorn! Green tea popcorn, roasted green tea popcorn and brown rice tea popcorn

Last but not least sashimi on a stick for which we were filmed!
We couldn't resist another Japanese dessert joint. Yuzu juice with warabimochi (a jelly-like substance made from bracken starch and covered with kinako (sweet toasted soybean flour)) which tasted nearly like peanuts

Roasted mochi with various toppings eg sweet yellow bean flour, red bean paste, sugar and soy sauce

Hichimi cheese mochi. This is one is slightly spicy but so yummy!

Maccha kuzu zenzai

Nishiki Market was a stone's throw away from the shopping district of Kyoto, the Shijo Kawaramachi intersection, as well as the Teramachi & Shinkyogoku Arcades. We took the opportunity of extra time to shop for traditional Japanese crafts before heading back towards Kyoto Station. We were keen to try more ramen and so returned to the 10th floor of Isetan for more. It didn't disappoint. We rolled home content and ready to move on to our next destination.

A gift from the tax free counter after our efforts at Takashimaya

Ramen crawl

Tonight it was Ajitama scallion chashu ramen with fried chicken. Yum!


  1. We found only our daughter liked Japanese deserts, Graham and I not keen at all - but loved most everything else! Did you enjoy your matchiya? We would stay in one again. I note next trip ( and there definitely will be one one day) we can just go to your restaurants to eat, saves research- thanks!

  2. Japanese dessert is definitely an acquired taste! We did enjoy our machiya stay although the one small thing about our particular machiya is the lack of natural light. The windows were small. if you ever want details of where we are just ask away! Always happy to share :)