After a few days in Tokyo it was time for a break and I jumped on the Shinkansen (Bullet Train, about 2hr and 20 mins) to Kyoto for a few days (I highly recommend getting a JR Rail Pass for travel around Japan and the Yamonote line in Tokyo. Also get the Green Pass) and hit nearby Nara as well. I stayed at the Century Hotel which is located just a 5 minute walk from Kyoto Station. There are plenty of restaurants nearby, the buses and subways are all right there to get to the major sites(some sites are within easy walking distance. It’s very fairly priced with nice rooms and a beautiful lobby and bar. The Staff is very professional and friendly but they could use more English language speakers.
Working up an appetite it was time for (a very late) lunch. I believe it was at Daiichi Asahi I dined. I say this because nothing was in English. Please note, this is common vs the exception. It is around the corner from the Century Hotel...thing is there are two Ramen joints right next to each other. I went to the one not in the corner but next to it. I started with some Goyza, followed by a bowl of Ramen large(extra noodles, the regular sized wouls have been enough) and a large well earned bottle of Ashai beer.
For dinner I went nearby to Ganko. Most Japanese restaurants serve only one type of food i.e. sushi, ramen tempura, etc Ganko was one of the few I went to that served a variety of cooked and the raw and also happens to be a large corporation with many locations throughout Japan . I stated with raw Waygu Beef sushi and and the Sushi deluxe for my entree. To drink a Lime Sochu cocktail. Is this a destination restaurant, not really, but for a very good, fairly priced meal right by Kyoto Station it is recommended.
The next day in the morning I jumped on the bus to Nijo Castle. This is the former home of the Tokugawa Shoguns. The castle is known for it’s Nightingale floors that chirp and squeak acting as a security system against Ninja’s and the like.While it was very cool (pics of the inside are forbidden, and the Japanese take this very seriously, so don’t be a jerk with your camera-phone) it was the outer walls and especially the stunningly beautiful rock garden and pond that blew me away. While taking pics(and having a mystical Ninja moment) I got soaked in Typhoon level rains.
After finding my way through the maze of the pace in the pouring in sheets rain, I Jumped on the bus back to the hotel, changed and went on a half day trip to Nara. What should have been a great day…well lets say it rained on my parade. I saw some of the famous Deer of Nara, the Todai-ja that houses the world’s largest(as in like in an Indy Jones, Lata Croft movie sized) Daibutsu, a giant Bronze Buddha…which is amazing and some Shrine while caught in Typhoon level rains. The pics speak for themselves, insofar as both some cool pics and the rain.
Back at the hotel bar the Essex, a Whiskey Highball with Hakushu 12 year to chill and dry out.
That night it was time for a change of pace cuisine wise so I went to Italian Bar Kyoto Kimuraya a Japanese-Italian fusion spot. I started with their Tuna and Salmon tartar with avocado, for my main the Sea Urchin risotto with Salmon Roe Potato which was the definition of Umami. To drink, a Potato Sochu with Club Soda.
On Wednesday, my last day in Kyoto I took the bus to Gion to wander around. I found the Yashuka shrine easy enough, thought could’nt find a spot for coffee(Kyoto is known for it). so I ended up eating Crab on O -stick for breakfast.
After taking some pics of the shrine which is beautiful, I headed over to the Sukiyaki restaurant the hotel recommended and somehow found myself completely off where I thought I was(still can’t figure out how)said screw it, walked back to where I knew the bus back was, grabbed some Waygu Beef Sushi on the way and jumped on the bus.
I popped into Espessamente illy in Kyoto Station for a Green Macha Latte and a Shrimp Avocado Sandwich, finished that up, grabbed a dozen Gyoza(smallest size) at 551 Horai JR Kyototen for the ride back to Tokyo.