I woke up the next morning in Kyoto, and although I was stiff and sore from my trip, I was also full of energy and excitement and nervousness, ready to go exploring. For our first day, Inga and I were clear that we wanted to explore on foot, since we had spent so much time cooped up the day before. We spent some time perusing our guide books, discussing the options, and finally settled on a walk through the local food market called Nishiri Market and a trip to the Kiyomizu-dera Temple in the Southern Higayashima neighborhood.
By the time we really got outside and got moving it was hot hot hot. And h u m i d. I was very glad to walk the city streets to get a feel for the city and to people watch, but I was sweating like crazy by the time we got to the market around 11 am. Fortunately, the market itself is largely covered and cooler, so we had the opportunity to meander around out of the heat.
Although it was a weekday, it was pretty busy in the market and the surrounding shops. I loved looking at the variety of merchandise, as you can see from the slideshow below:
I think the pictures generally give a feel for the place – it was mostly food but home goods too. The stalls were pretty specialized – seafood, fruit and veggies, beans, different types of dumplings, and (as I quickly learned) the pickled food stalls.
By that point I was ravenous and cranky, because I had had a small dinner the night before, and only a cereal bar before leaving the hotel that morning. However, I also knew that the Japanese generally don’t eat while walking around or sitting in public areas. In spite of being a tourist, as an anthropologist I felt it was important to respect the local customs!
Fortunately, there were also a fair number of little places to sit and eat, which we eventually did with Peter Savigny, another EPIC goer that had stopped to visit in Kyoto at the same time as us. We picked a little sushi restaurant, and together with our non-English-speaking server, we used the plastic food displays outside of the restaurant to select our meals. Here is one of our chefs in action:
I had a miso soup and a medium-sized plate of sushi. Here’s a picture of my lunch:
Beautiful, isn’t it? It was great to be seated in the air conditioning, and the food was delicious! As we were leaving, our server gave us a tiny little paper crane for good luck:
Once we finished eating and wandered out, we realized that the food market itself was part of a larger shopping area that was also open air with a roof – sort of covered streets. Inga and I wandered around a bit more and did some window shopping and people watching. Along the way we found a couple of shrines tucked in side streets. It was really amazing to wander off a busy commercial street and find yourself in a peaceful courtyard filled with the sounds of fresh running water (available for anyone to drink), chanting, and the tinkling of little bells and offering plaques. Have a look at this video and you’ll see what I mean:
Here is another, maybe a little less vibrant and active due to it’s location, but just a beautiful little corner nonetheless:
With full bellies Inga and I headed back out into the heat to walk through the Southern Higayashima neighborhood and explore the Kiyomizu-Dera Temple.
Stay tuned for my next post to learn more about our adventures …