My 29th Birthday: a Weekend of Deliciousness

My birthday was this past Saturday. Unfortunately, it rained from Friday night to Saturday night, so we couldn’t do too much outside. We went to eat at yummy places, and we went shopping and to karaoke. Today, we again ate delicious food and went shopping some more.

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Monday in Kyoto: Shokubutsuen, Shimogamo, and Kiyomizudera

Monday, we headed up to our old home, Sakyo-ku. We had cake at Clientele, and then went to the Kyoto Botanical Gardens (Kyoto Shokubutsuen).

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Sunday in Kyoto: Fushimi Inari and Neko Cafe

We had a lovely day on Sunday. First, we headed over to Kyoto Station and went to Fushimi Inari Taisha, the head Inari shrine in Japan. Inari is the goddess of business and rice. Her messengers are the foxes, so you will see a pair of foxes outside of her shrines. One fox holds a ball, while the other either holds a sheath of rice, or a key to the granary.

The earliest parts of the shrine were built in the 700s, but the main part was built in the 1400s. Fushimi Inari is free to visit, and is a lot of fun. The main part is at the base of a mountain, but it is super fun to climb the mountain because you get to walk through thousands of torii (the red gates that mark the entrance to a shrine). I think it is much more pleasant in the spring and fall than the summer, though! That mountain sure feels high in 90 degree weather!

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The Delicious Food of Kyoto

Something wonderful about Kyoto is the quality of the food you can get there. Since we have seen pretty much every big sight and many small ones in Kyoto, one of the things we looked forward to the most, actually, was eating the food there.

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Hikone Castle

Hikone Castle is located in Shiga Prefecture, which is right next to Kyoto Prefecture. Hikone is one of only 12 castles in Japan that has the original keep. The keep at Hikone was built in 1575.

The mascot of Hikone is “Hiko-nyan”, a samurai cat. You can see him everywhere.

Hiko-nyan

There was even a statue of him at the gravestone and statue place on the way to the castle.

Moat

The moat and wall at Hikone Castle.

Swans

There was a pair of swans outside of the castle walls.

Crane

There were also cranes near the moat.

First, we saw Hikone Castle Museum.

Armor

We saw samurai armor in the museum.

Model rooms

There were many model rooms in the museum, too.

Garden

The museum had its own garden. I liked how there were little yellow flowers growing out of the bamboo fountain.

Koto

This string instrument is called a koto. It is about 6 feet long. I liked the detail on the end.

Screens 1

Very nice gold leaf screens.

Screen 2

These screens were very long.

After the museum, we went to see the castle keep.

Castle Keep 1

A shot of the castle keep. We had to wait for about 1 hour to go inside.

Ceiling

The ceiling beams inside of the castle keep.

Windows

Windows inside of the castle keep.

Wooden artifacts

Wooden artifacts inside of the castle.Keep 2

Another angle of the castle keep.

After seeing the castle, we went to see the castle garden, Genkyuen.

Swans 2

More swans on the way to the garden.

Genkyuen

The castle keep as seen from Genkyuen.

Genkyuen 2

Another shot of Genkyuen.

Genkyuen 3

There is a large lake in Genkyuen.

Wagashi

There is also a teahouse in Genkyuen. We got maccha (powdered Japanese green tea) and wagashi (Japanese sweets) for 500 yen.

Umbrella

A Japanese style umbrella near the teahouse.

Pizza

After Genkyuen, we stopped at a bakery nearby and had some bakery pizza. It was really good. It was just going to be our snack, but it ended up being our lunch because we got stuck on the train for 40 extra minutes between Yamashina and Kyoto Station because of some type of mechanical error or accident. 😦

The next post will be about our Sunday adventures.

Fire Performance

Something I really miss about Kyoto is going to the Kamogawa at night. On weekends in pretty much every season but winter, fire dancers perform at the Kamogawa next to the Sanjo Ohashi (Sanjo Keihan Station, exit 6). We went to watch these guys three nights this time. We chatted with them a bit, too. Their names are Kousuke (the shorter haired one) and Muuta.

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Temples and Shrines of Arashiyama

On Friday, we made our grand return to Kyoto. We lived in Kyoto for a year while I was on the JET Program. I also studied for a summer there, so it’s like a second home to us! Therefore, we really didn’t see a ton of stuff actually in the city this time around.

While studying, I went to Arashiyama and saw a lot of cool things that Teddy didn’t get to see, so we went to Arashiyama on our first day back in Kyoto.

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