Friday, October 29, 2010

Jidai Matsuri (Festival of the Ages)

Jidai Matsuri is one of the three biggest festivals in Kyoto, along with Aoi Matsuri and Gion Matsuri. It is held on October 22 every year. The event started in 1895 in celebration of the 1,100th anniversary of the transfer of the capital to Kyoto.

The procession of approx. 2,000 people wearing costumes representing the styles of each hitorical period from 1868 (when the capital was moved to Tokyo from Kyoto) to 794 (when the capital was moved to Kyoto) travels from Imperial Palace to Heian Jingu Shrine.

There were groups of "gaijin (foreigners)" in the procession.

Especially a loud cheer arose for a man who dressed as one of the country's favorite historical figures "Ryoma Sakamoto."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Comb Festival in Gion

"Comb Festival" was held in Gion on the fourth Monday of September.

Hair designers and maiko/geisha girls bring their worn-out combs to the Yasui Konpiragu Shrine, and have their combs to be blessed for the work.

After the ceremoney, a parade of women, with their own hair done in various coiffures representing each era from ancient times to the present day, started from the Shrine and went through Gion district.

Hair designers spent hours to arrange these hairstyles.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ramen Kouji

"Ramen Kouji" means Ramen Alley. Japan's famous seven ramen restaurants are put together in this alley. It is on the 10th floor of Isetan Department Store in JR Kyoto Station building.

My favorite is Hokkaido's Sapporo style "Sumire" ramen.

There are three types of ramen soups; soy sauce, salt and miso base, and I tried out their miso ramen. Curled noodles and very thick and rich flavored soup were excellent!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Restaurant "Kyo Sakura"

"Kyo Sakura" is a so-called Japanese fast food restaurant, and is located on the very busy Karasuma Street.

They serve Japanese udon noodles and sushi.

This is a set menu of "Kitsune udon" and "5 pieces of sushi" which I ordered for lunch --- 670 yen.

Kitsune udon is a soup noodle with sweetened deep-fried tofu.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Blue Man Group in Gion!

I walked through Hanami-koji street to Gion the other day. Hanami-koji area is the heart of Gion, lined by old Japanese wooden houses, teahouses and restaurants.

There is also the Kaburenjo Theater where you can see maiko and geisha girls walking in and out.

As autumn deepens, the number of TV crews increases, in addition to the tourists.

And much to my surprise, there was Blue Man Group!

They were taking PR photos in front of the famous "Ichiriki Teahouse."

Friday, October 01, 2010


Teishoku is a set meal which is available in many Japanese restaurants and is very reasonably priced. Standard teishoku comes with main dish, bowl of rice, miso soup and pickles.

Below were my teishoku sets on a very busy day.

Breakfast: Baked mackerel teishoku with all-you-can drink tea and juice at "Joyful" (499 yen).

Supper: Chinese style teishoku at "Yayoi Ken" (860 yen).

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Japanese Pizza (or pancake) "Okonomi Yaki"

One of my favorit Japanese foods is Okonomi-yaki, and I used to eat 2~3 times a week when I was a university student.

There are at least six okonomi-yaki restaurants that I know of near my house in Higashiyama, and "Kana" in Gion is my favorite.

They have lots of side dishes in the menu. Today, I ordered stewed beef chunk as an appetizer with beer.

And the main dish! The batter is made of flour, water, eggs and shredded cabbage, and you can add other ingredients of vegetables, meat, seafood, noodles, etc. of your choice.

Adding the mayonnaise to a salty source makes the taste mild.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The pathway starts here.

When I went to Hiroshima on business last week, I saw this huge poster of Kyoto University of Foreign Studies on the wall of Hiroshima Station.

This five-storied pagoda is frequently used in magazines, dramas, etc. as a symbol of Kyoto.

However, there are many tourists who do not know the whereabouts of this place. There is a famous "Santei-zaka" slope after this "Yasaka Road," and it goes to the Kiyomizu temple.

The best route to Kiyomizu Temple is to start from here.

Hotel Okura's Terrace Restaurant "Belcanto"

I had lunch with friends at Belcanto of Okura Hotel.

I ordered their "commemoration lunch" to celebrate Okura Hotel's establishment in 1888 --- roast beef, cream soup, fried seafood and coffee, with 5 types of breads of all-you-can-eat. The menu changes weekly.

And my two friends' Kobe steak and a beef stew looked mouth watering!

Memories of Summer

Our historically hot and long summer suddenly ended and we had a long waited comfortable Autumn weekend.

These are the discarded skins of cicadas I found near my house last month. Cicadas' singing is very loud and is the symbol of the summer in Japan.

This is a Japanese gecko "yamori" and we often see them on our windows at night.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Kiyoken's sauce container

I got a package from a friend in Kanagawa. And there were "bottle gourd" shape sauce containers made of porcelain!

When I visited her in June, I forgot to buy the famous shaomai of "Kiyoken" in Kanagawa and I deeply regret as I failed to get their sauce container that comes with shaomai!

My friend kindly gave me some of her collections which includes a special container for Christmas!

I'll have to display these in my showcase at home.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Summer Vegetables in Season

Summer vegetables are in season in the field of my home town of Shimane. The Japanese basil (Shiso) is a great seasoning for noodle dish and rice bowl dish. It's great for tempura as well.

Cherry tomatoes are best in season and we've been making tomatoe juice everyday.

Glossy green peppers.

Simply deep-fry eggplant and pour (or dip in) soy sauce with shichimi (seven spices) --- my favorite dish.

Lots of eggplant flowers are still blooming. It seems we can enjoy eggplant for a while.

Corn is ready to harvest.

We are having a bumper crop of Kiwi this year.

Pumpkin flowers began to bloom for autumn harvest, and several bees were collecting honey.

Vegetables and fruits harvested in my home town are completely chemical free and they are all sooo delicious!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fugetsudo's Gaufre Waffles

I found Fugetsudo's mini gaufres in lovely cans with illustrations of three famous views of Kyoto (Kiyomizu Temple, Kinkakuji Temple, and Gion Festival) in the basement of Takashimaya Department Store. Each can has 6 gaufres and 389 yen.

Fugetsudo Confectionery was founded in 1747 in Ueno of Tokyo, and their gaufre waffles have been a very popular suvenior for decades.