Bullets and Bamboo

Bullets and Bamboo

Driving for many hours through Japan could be an adventure in and of itself, but when it came to traveling to Kyoto, we opted for the comfortable and speedy bullet train. We had assigned seats, places for our luggage, and at one point, a food and drink cart (must have coffee).

Mount Fuji isn't always visible through the fog, but we were lucky.  It was a mostly clear day and sure enough, the mountain graced us with its glorious presence for a short portion of our journey.  Climbing it would be an entirely different matter completely, but one that I would like to try (you'd be next Everest).

I realize that a lot of rice is eaten in Eastern Asia, but where is this rice grown?  I think I found where some of it comes from at least. I know, I'm a true detective. There were rice patties covering every spare inch of ground outside of Kyoto.  For some reason, I found it rather fascinating.

In just over two hours, we arrived in our new home for the next few days, rested and ready.  In order to alleviate ourselves of our many suitcases, we checked into our hotel first before exploring.  Lunch was certainly on the mind, bamboo forests had to be walked through, and we couldn't ignore the Kimono forest, followed by a dinner that would require some hands on participation.

I don't really care for soda, but I've always found glass cola bottles to be really cool, so I snapped our leader in action.

Lunch started with boiled tofu, miso soup, and all the fixin's for me.  The little mesh contraption on the bottom left corner of the tray is for taking pieces of tofu with and dipping it in the sauce bowl.  I put all of the fresh ginger, scallion, and fish flakes in the bowl too.  I couldn't eat all of that tofu, so I think it would be a good dish to share.

Tempura was a favorite among the others.  It was my least favorite miso soup though.  It had carrots in it, which I only think took away from the miso soupiness, in my own humble opinion.

So by now you know that I have a slight addiction and it comes in the form of this green beauty in a cone.  This was the worst of the green teas that I had on the trip.  It wasn't as creamy and just lacking in flavor over all.  The next day's ice cream would make up for it.

Cold cucumber on a stick anyone?

The Bamboo Forest was breathtaking.  We turned down a street and then all of a sudden, bamboo stretched into the sky, offering little sunlight, but many beautiful shades of green instead.  The ground was covered in leaves and there were rails protecting the precious forest from pedestrians.

I just love the sage color of the stalks.

We spotted a "geisha" on a rickshaw being pulled through the forest roads.

Look at that hair!  Everything was so intricate.

We found a place where we could get up close and personal with the bamboo, so naturally I took hold of one and had to pose.

The Kimono Forest was less green and leafy.  There are many different poles, all covered in different prints that you could find on a kimono.  At night they light up, as they were beginning to do in this photo.

We were getting hungry, so we ventured back into the city to find a place where we could get our hands on some food, literally.  It involved pouncing down small alley ways until we finally found what we were looking for, tucked away in between buildings.  Gan San offered yakiniku style dining which is grilling your food at your table.

We adults sat at the bar, while we waited for a table to open up, as the students shuffled in and took up nearly half of the tiny restaurant.  The bar was littered with sake bottles, all offering different tastes and styles.  The ones above had string and labels attached to them, which was peculiar.  They belong to frequent customers who keep their bottle at the bar, seems sensible.

Just a few feet away, one of the waiters was heating up the coals which would eventually grill our food.

The smoke gets sucked up into the very strong vents that seem to float above your table.

We eventually got our seats, and the grill was soon to follow.  We ordered some veggies, and lots of meat. Tongue, rib, tenderloin, and yakitori all graced our table, and I gobbled up everything.  The meat cooked quickly and it essential to not over cook it.  The owner told us that they only buy the freshest meat, so fresh that it can be eaten raw.

The lettuce was a perfect vessel for the meat.  Nothing like mixing a little herbivore and carnivore into one perfect bite.

Thoroughly full and happy, we dragged our tired selves back to the hotel and took a nice Japanese snooze.