Clear Water Temple 清水寺 

Kiyomizu-dera temple is one of the most famous temples in Kyoto. Lancy had planned an afternoon with her friend, Shuko’s father, who is a professional potter, and we decided to spend the morning temple strolling and around the old areas of Higashiayama, on our way to her house. It was a perfect day for such an activity, it was warm and sunny and the cherry blossom was impossibly beautiful. The temple is stunning. It is built into the side of a hill, originally in 778, and the current building was constructed in 1633, by Tokugawa Iemitsu. The whole structure, which stands into the side of the hill on scaffolding, has not a single nail used. We explored much more thoroughly than I had previously, and the grounds and atmosphere are seriously serene, an environment I can imagine becoming quite addicted to.

Post temple gazing, we were hungry and found a lovely little place to have some oyakodon…. for those who don’t know, this is my very favourite Japanese dish. It is a kind of homestyle cooking dish of chicken, egg and spring onion on rice. Oyako 親子 means parents and child, chicken and egg, and this one was pretty good. The restaurant had a selection of books, including one about Kyoto museums (of which there are hundreds). We found a sake brewery and museum, Gekkeikan, which Super Sake Boy and I are desperate to visit. This is the most exported sake in the world, and they do tours of operations and tastings…. and there are other breweries along the river, in the vicinity. A definite must!!!

Shuko lives just off one of the busiest little streets in the area, and we wound along alleyways to her home. A beautiful, old and traditional building, which even Shuko’s dad was unsure of the age. We went in and chose whether we wanted to do electric wheel throwing, or just on a hand operated wheel. All the kids chose electric, except Abby, and Super Sake Boy and I stuck with the old school style. (Both being control freaks and perfectionists, it was a little out of our comfort zone to try throwing on a fast paced piece of machinery). It was so much fun. The clay was dark and cold, and I have forgotten how lovely it feels to mould it with your hands. Our plan was, of course, to create sake cups. We made three each and the kids all made cups or bowls, and Harper made a vase.

After we finished the creating, we had tea, coffee or matcha and kinako mochi while discussing how to write everyone’s names in Japanese. Mya and I have a stamp, made for us by Honda-san, my homestay guest, Ichiko-kun’s mother. Super Sake Boy already has a Japanese alias, Tanaka, a name as common as Smith or Jones, and the kanji means middle of the rice field. This is where we picture ourselves retiring to. Abby was super excited that one of her kanji means beautiful, her favourite Japanese word. Ewan used his katakana alias gaming name and then Harper’s name proved a very lengthy and interesting challenge. The kanji he ended up with was beautiful, and Shuko’s father’s caligraphy was so amazing, a goal to aspire towards. He made it look effortless. His writing, on scraps of paper, were treasured instantly by the kids and they talked about framing them when we get home.

Dinner was reasonably uneventful and we were tired and ready for an early night. Just after we got home, I had a visit from the Mayor. I met the Mayor at Maki’s place at a Christmas party a few years ago. He is always very generous and has given me gifts of scrolls and things before. He dropped in before we went out and I gave him some Australian wine, some Melbourne Rooftop honey and some Pink Lake salt. He is going away to Kamakura, so returned with so many gifts, I was a little overwhelmed. Books, scrolls, paintings, and a promise to catch up when we return on October. When he heard we are returning for the Jidai Matsuri (Historic Festival), he informed me that this area of Kyoto will be organising the festival in two years time, and asked if Super Sake Boy and I would like to take part in the parade….. I am very sure I would love this….. Of course we said yes!!!!!

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