Thursday, September 30, 2010


What a beautiful city! Though much of the city is modernized it is not uncommon to turn off a busy street and be right in the middle of traditional Japan. From the hotels, restaurants, architecture, and temples this city is where to find the Japan we foreigners imagine it to be. My friend Eriko and I stayed at a traditional Japanese hotel with bamboo matted floors and paper sliding walls. As a westerner it was a bit strange when i first walked in. There was a separate room at the entrance where you take off you shoes and the room looked like a place to eat lunch not sleep! Except that the table was low and there were small pads on the floor. At 8 pm sharp a member of the hotel staff came to the room, pulled the tabel to the side, and layed down our mats to sleep on. What an expirence!

Breakfast was also quiet special. The room was similar to the hotel room with the bamboo mats and the low tables with pads to sit on. Our food was already on the table with a paper sheet cover to keep it fresh. We were served baked salmon, rice, pickled cucumbers and other vegetables, some sort of tofu and egg cake, and we each had our own pot of miso soup. The waitress lit a burner underneath the pot to heat up our soup, similar to fondu. I have found that a traditional, as well as still common, breakfast here in Japan consists of baked fish (usually salmon), rice and salad.

One of the best lunches I have had in Japan was on our second day in Kyoto. Entering the restaurant, shoes removed, it was hard to tell what the place was going to be like or what they served. We were guided up some steep and narrow steps and the room at the top was small and traditional. Again, bamboo mats and floor seating. The options of the day were either fish or chicken. I ordered chicken and this is what I got:
The chicken was thigh cooked perfectly, bathed in teriyaki sauce, with bell peppers and a salad. To the left is white rice, to the right is miso soup. In front of the miso is a mixture of pickled vegetables and in front of that was some sort of jelly dessert. On the upper left hand corner is tofu and in the center is tempura fried pumpkin and a red pepper. This type of pumpkin is served all over but looks like a cantaloupe and taste nothing like pumpkin. The Japanese even flavor cookies, cakes, ice cream and many other sweets with this. There is also a purple sweet potato that is used to flavor sweets. If the pumpkins and sweet potatoes in the US tasted like these I would eat a lot more of them and I love sweet potatoes.

Here is a picture of me eating a sweet potato waffle we bought in the train station. You can more or less see the deep purple color. These sweet potatoes come from the Island of Okinawa and are either called Hawaiian Purple Sweet Potatoes or Okinawan potatoes.

Here are a few pictures of the beautiful temples I visited in Kyoto. Afterall, there is more than just good food there!

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