On Sunday, Mum and Ted decided they wanted to explore a bit and do some shopping. The boys decided to accompany them in to the Kyoto Station area. The girls were off on an adventure with Senki and Lancy, to Osaka, to the K-Pop town. We decided to head into Kawaramachi and get some lunch. We would all meet up later, (except the girls) and head to Nijo Castle.
Takashimaya is a high-end department store with the usual restaurant floors above the shopping floors. Nearly all department stores are 8-10 floors, usually 2 underground with depart-chika, kind of like super fancy supermarkets and floors 7 and 8 are usually restaurant floors. We headed straight up to the eating floors and found a lovely little place selling duck meatball curry and rice. The food was delicious. We are definitely far more adventurous about walking into traditional places, or under noren than we used to be.
We then wandered over to Daimaru. My very favourite depart-chika place. At the entrance I noticed a Beams shop that had been highly recommended by our Japanese teacher. Super Sake Boy kitted himself out in some super funky Japanese style pants and tops and we headed downstairs. $120 melons, 5 strawberries for $18, each one about the size of my fist, individually wrapped apples and nashi and peaches. Yakitori, kushikatsu, Maisen katsu-sando, food heaven… I had to have a tempura renkon despite not being hungry. It was thick, fresh and deliciously earthy. I love Daimaru. I have missed it in Melbourne. The food is next level and so wonderful.
Back on a bus and off to Nijo Castle. We met Mum, Ted and the boys out the front. Built by Tokugawa Ieyasu, commencing in 1601, Nijo is beautiful and famous for its singing nightingale floors, that squeak underfoot to prevent attack by ninja. The ceiling, panels, wood and tatami are all beautifully preserved or restored and this castle was eventually given over to the Imperial family after the Meiji restoration. The Tokugawa Shogunate moved the capital from Kyoto to Edo (Tokyo) and this castle was where they lived when in Kyoto. The gardens are stunning and, again, the seasonal difference was noticeable. The moss and the lush cycads and hundreds of year-old trees are spectacular. It’s a lovely place to spend an afternoon.
For dinner we headed back into Kawaramachi and headed upstairs of another department store that we knew had an omurice restaurant that we like. Omurice is a Japanese take on a western dish, of rice, cooked with ketchup and wrapped in an omelette. It is so yummy and comes in lots of different flavours. We decided on the hamburg steaki with demi-glace sauce. It was good. The time before we had had beef curry omurice, and there was some disappointed punters in our group. They managed to recover and try something else. Everyone was exhausted so we headed back and called it a night…. After a couple of sneaky sakes. We really must make the most of being here!!