Day 21: Sayounara, Kyoto

We took our last trip into Kyoto today to look for some souvenirs we had not picked up in our earlier trips. There were no temples steps, but plenty of walking around. The weather was a little warm,  however it was still a nice day for shopping.

We stopped in more shops than I care to count. I did notice today while shopping for a small sculpture that by far the most numerous figure I have seen in Japan is the beckoning cat (or maneki neko in Japanese). Almost every store, restaurant, and bar has one. A few stores specialize in these figures, and walking into one is a overload of cuteness. I think we got away with only one the other day, but I wasn’t looking the whole time.

Robyn picked up a good number of items today. She racked up a few fans, incense burners, incense, and another Evangelion model. We also took care of the rest of our souvenir shopping; I’ll skip those details.

While shopping we saw a chankonabe restaurant and it’s one of the “must try” foods in Japan. Robyn suggested stopping the shopping marathon to eat there, and I did not debate. The waitress setup our meal, which was a large pot on a burner filled with a miso soup base. She masterfully added pork, chicken, vegetables, mushrooms, and tofu. It was piled so high I thought it was going to fall off the pot. Eventually it cooked down and she told us it was ready to eat.

As usual in Japan, the service was wonderful. Not only did the waitress completely prepare our meal, but she made sure it was artfully arranged as well. Then, she seemingly would not allow us to serve ourselves. No sooner had I picked up the tongs for a second helping did she magically reappear and take the tongs from me. She also came back just as I was finishing my second bowl, and took the bowl to serve the third and final round. And if at any time we needed her for a drink refill or anything else, all we had to do was touch a button on the table.

Chanko is a very tasty and healthy dish. I would like to try and make it when we get back home. Despite our best efforts we were not able to finish the meal, and left the restaurant eager to walk off the huge lunch. I know the meal was good, because I was not even hungry when we got dinner (we ate a little anyways because of our schedule).

So, at a slower pace, we continued our day. Shopping in Kyoto differs from Osaka – there are way more tourist traps, traditional clothing, plastic sword stands, kid’s ninja outfits, oriental fans, printed t-shits with “I love Japan”,  etc… Osaka is mostly clothes, gadgets, or other  goods related to city life. Robyn led us to a shopping district off the tour-guided path, and we found some neat stores with traditional craft goods.

At what would be our last stop at Kyoto Station for a very long time, Robyn said her goodbyes to Mister Doughnut by buying a few more doughnuts. She also wished the escalators well and waved to the cool architectural details as she passed them. There were just so many things to see in Kyoto that we did not get to experience them all, but I do think we visited the “best of” Kyoto.

On the train we only had one doughnut, to save room for our last visit to Okonomi Yukari, the restaurant our host works at. We got another cheese okonomiyaki, which was a struggle to finish. Since it was the last one I might get in a very long time I made room.

Tomorrow will be our last full day to do anything thats not packing up or flying home. We plan to take it easy in Osaka and get some reflexology messages.

PS- there are a few new Engrish photos from our shopping trip today