Retail therapy. Food markets. Cooking lesson.
11.04.2013 15 °C
Clearly I'm not very good at writing short blogs, as demonstrated by yesterday's entry.
This morning we brought our own strawberries to the breakfast room. Sick of the lack of fresh fruit.
We had a slightly later start today, and headed off via subway to Kyoto station which is an architectural masterpiece. Your eye cannot rest on one spot, you just have to keep looking around. I'd never seen anything like it. It's inside but also outside.... It's big but you don't feel lost in it. Big like. We navigated from there to a less expensive shopping complex called Aeon which was recommended for normal shopping, not having high end brands or expensive like Daimaru. I spent most time in only one shop. I had a shopping list and pretty much stuck to it. It was not easy because things are very reasonably priced, plenty of variety and good quality. If only we had these shops at home! Japan is NOT expensive. Australia is hideously expensive.
We had to get a taxi back to the hotel to dump our purchases and eat a quick sandwich before dashing out again to meet the shopping guide. She first gave us a little lesson about traditional Japanese food, ingredients and shopping. Then we entered the stunning world that is Daimaru's food halls. OMG. We were able to sample odd and traditional foods and have them explained to us by the guide: how to eat, when, what, how made etc. We tried so many things! Meanwhile the guide was buying ingredients for the cooking lesson later on. But really, the most amazing food market I have ever been in was the famous and old Nishiki food Markets. I think I read somewhere that there is a kilometre of alleys. There is an original butchers and cutlery shop, both over 100+ years old and handed down through about 18 generations at least in the case of the latter. Nishiki market is an absolute haven for foodies..... There is too much to see. Things being prepared, cooked, sampled and bought. Bags, sacks, packets, fresh, dried, piled up, bottled, wrapped, anything. Fish, tofu, pickles, sauces, sweets, meats, crackers, ice cream, seafood, seaweed, beans, rice, spices, you name it! I want to take it all home. Except the meat, that can stay here.
The guide explained the difference between a shrine and a temple and showed us the correct way to make a prayer in a shrine. We were also taken into a very old sake brewery which was the home of a rich sake merchant over a hundred years ago. We visited the private rooms upstairs and also learned how sake is made and to appreciate the different qualities. I don't like wine very much and rarely drink alcohol, but sake was quite nice.
We were taken to the headquarters of the tour guide company where we were handed over to another lady who took us through the cooking lesson. We made a Japanese spinach salad, miso soup and maki sushi (rolls). We had green tea icecream for dessert. It was fun and delicious! The tour guides are a group of ladies who formed a company to offer this type of tour, plus origami, ikebana and such other cultural experiences. It's called Wak Japan and very worthwhile if you ever choose to visit Kyoto one day.
On the way home, it started to drizzle and become colder, but we looked in the big bright department shops again - no purchases - then got the subway to the hotel.
This has been a very lovely happy day. Bargains, markets, cooking, learning and eating. What more is there to do? Perhaps only cheese and Chocolate.....?