Buses, Green Tea, and Apple Pie

Posted on Jun 25, 2012 in Travel

What a day in Kyoto.  Since Eoin and I didn’t really get a chance to explore the city of Kyoto as we have been taking side trips to small towns and villages in the area – we decided to dedicate the day to exploring this city and all of the temples and monuments.  The only catch is that we decided to do it all with the local city bus system.  We bought a bus pass, a bus map and then went to work.  Eoin as usual was a master at navigating complex maps written in Japanese.  There are literally many hundreds of busses operating in this city with many thousands riding them at any given time.

Eoin, master navigator, shows off his bus pass as he prepares to conquer one of the most complex puzzles you can imagine.

By the end of the day we had managed to see about 6 different temples and monuments spread out over the whole city and and pretty much made a loop through all of Kyoto.  The bus system was remarkably efficient and we actually saved about $50 in cab fares that we would have spent trying to get around the city and probably $100 or more on the expensive tours that we would have had to take to accomplish the same thing. We could become taxi drivers in this city if we wanted to now that we know it so well.

As is becoming the norm, Eoin was approached by school kids of all ages (primarily girls) to chat with them.  Eoin always takes the time to talk to them and tell them about what he does in the US.

One of the highlights of the day occurred when we came upon a completely golden building.  The building is called the Golden Pavilion and it is one of the most photographed monuments in the world – and most definitely in Japan.  The building is covered in solid gold foil and has stood for hundreds of years.  It is a beautiful place surrounded by a serene lake with Banzai Trees.

After this breathtaking view of the Golden Pavilion, we decided to go to a nearby Japanese Tea Garden to experience the serene and peaceful practice of enjoying Green Tea.  Now this Green Tea is served in a bowl and it is green – very green and looks like it has been tepid for a couple of hours because it is so thick.  They serve it the traditional way with a small very sugary bean cake that you need to eat before you sip the tea.I am not sure Eoin is a big fan of Green Tea. I think I like the stuff we get at Chinese Restaurants better myself. Well we gave it a shot anyway.

One of the oldest Soy Sauce factories in the world is located right here in Kyoto.  It has been around for a few hundred years and they still make the soy sauce by hand just the way that they have always made it since they began in business.  We purchased a jar while we visited the shop and managed to convince the lady at the counter to let us look in the back and take some pictures of the room where they store and make the soy sauce.  She told us that the soy sauce sits in these containers and ferments for over 1 year before they bottle it up.  Now that is craftsmanship.  I will be writing up and posting a whole blog on this place at a later date but wanted to share just how cool this place is and how historic it looks.  These containers have been holding and producing soy sauce for hundreds of years.

One of the hardest parts of the trip is always deciding where to eat.  In Japan it is not always easy to find a good restaurant.  The menus are often written in entirely Japanese and oftentimes you cannot really tell what type of restaurant it is when you look inside.  When you see a restaurant on the other hand that goes out of their way to print menus in English and cater to tourist, well that is almost as bad if not worse because you know that the food is not authentic.  I guess that is why today – Eoin and I again returned to McDonald’s for lunch.  Eoin was thoroughly impressed with the way that the Japanese prepare their hot apple pies and decided to run for President on the bring back the deep fried apple pie platform.   Eoin provided his daily update along with his bid for the presidency today.

So that wraps up our blog update today.  By the way Eoin was not hungry so he decided to eat Ice Cream for dinner.  A couple of kids Tokyo shanghied our place in line at Baskin Robbins.  First they stepped on my foot and then they said sorry in Japanese and cut to the front of the line.  Well we let them take our place in line but eventually got Eoin his Ice Cream dinner.

Another great day in Kyoto – over and out.