The Kansai Episode: Plumbing Cherries

Do you hear your lowly servant crying in pain?

With the night starting to call, we gradually call it a day as we slowly make our way back to Kintetsu Nara station, and for our journey back to Kyoto where we scurry on with some last-minute shopping. Unlike Tokyo or even Osaka, Kyoto’s commercial and retail centre is singularly sited at the thoroughfare between the mythical and historical district of Gion-Shijo (home to the elusive geisha and more Michelin starred restaurants than you one can count) and the ironically modern Kawaramachi. The latter houses the malls, including the ubiquitous department stores like OIOI (pronounced “marui”), Isetan, Takashimaya, as well as stores like the indie thrift favorites like WEGO and ABC Mart, and of course, BIC CAMERA. Restaurants are also in abundance, with every possible Japanese-owned chain on site (as long as you take the patience to locate them, they’re there). The variety isn’t terribly huge (for Japan), but I manage to get myself a pair of leather shoe, and boots.

I don’t usually take pictures of urban scenes enough to justify them in a single post, so I’m consolidating two night’s worth of material. I wouldn’t say I don’t like to take pictures, but I always get lost in the sense and wonder of it all. On our first night in Kyoto, we learned the hard way that shops in Kyoto close very early – the popular Nishiki Market closes before nightfall (which is about 4pm by now), and the Kawaramachi shopping district shuts around 8pm, with restaurants a little after that. So, last night, we decided to end our sightseeing “earlier” so we could reach the commercial district in time. We make our way to Gion, which was to be honest, wayyy more touristy and artificial than we had expected. I had heard sooo much about this fascinating district, and to receive such a rude awakening was downright disappointing. Caucasians were here in droves, eager in their Canon DSLRs, insisting on shooting pretty much anybody decked out in traditional wear, regardless of whether the subjects were willing or not (even going to the extent of offering cash in their faces). I thought it was very insulting, though. Disgusted by that sight, we headed across the river, towards Kawaramachi.

Across the Kamo river.

To Kawaramachi.

Dinner at Restaurant S.T.A.R.

I order the restaurant’s signature, a Japanese curry cheese baked omu rice. Oiishi!

Back to today… Eating this is fascinating. You have the ramen as you would when eating tsukemen (dipping the noodles into the soup before eating it). Once the noodle’s done, you heat up the soup, pour the rice inside, and the raw egg too for a few minutes, and it becomes a flavorful pork porridge.

“The Canyon” at Kyoto station between Kyoto station Isetan is quite the modern Kyoto landmark.

Looking down towards Kyoto station.

Dinner, cos’ it’s sooo good.

I think I’m ready to return to Singapore.

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