Saturday, 24 September 2011

Kyoto - Gion, Ginkaku-ji Temple & Gardens and a Nuclear Protest!

Continuing from my previous post, we were on our walking tour and the sun was shining. Our journey was now headed towards the Ginkaku Temple along the winding traditional street filled with old school looking buildings, shops and restaurants. Carefully checking the map, we turned a corner to walk down some steps and noticed a couple of ladies dressed in full Geisha dress. I am not too convinced they were real Geishas but you never know. They were following two foreign men and doting on them from what I could see.

We were exhausted by the time we got to Gion corner so we stopped for a pick-me-up green tea milk float and Tom had an iced coffee. The green tea float was really yummy. The coffee shop was one of many selling iced drinks and desserts. We resisted the temptation to eat more at this point and rested while seated in the shop window. This turned out to be the perfect place to view the gathering crowds. We had walked through a park where we realised people were meeting in order to begin a protest. We think that it was a reaction to the Japan nuclear disaster and from the posters and the numerous people dressed in cow costumes, we surmised that they were particularly worried about the effect it had on milk!? Best guess! (The next day we saw on the news that the trade minister had resigned. Not sure if the two things are connected but it seemed pretty exciting!) This made me feel a little funny about drinking green milk!

After that surprising turn of events, we decided to catch a bus north to the Ginkaku temple because quite frankly my back and legs were not happy with me! It wasn't long though until we were close by and had a short 20 minute walk towards the mountains. Soon enough we were on a familiar shop lined walk up to the site. There were  lot of food vendors and in true Liz and Tom style we couldn't resist so we sampled a couple of flavoured rice cakes, one spicy, one sweet. They pretty much tasted like snack-a-jacks! Crispy and spicy/sweet but not very satisfying! We also spotted a poster boasting that during his visit to the area to promote the movie 'Inception', Leonardo Dicaprio had visited a refreshment stand!

Once we reached Ginkaku-ji we were pleased we had made the effort to continue. The fading sun made it all the more beautiful and the uphill walk provided a wonderful view of the gardens. The garden area itself was so well maintained, you felt like you were in a movie set for a Japanese Royal Palace.

We waited in line to take the bus back to Gion and as the sun set we splashed out on a can of beer from the 7/11 and sat down by the river. We weren't the only cheap skates I assure you! It was rather atmospheric as about a hundred bats started to come out and fly above us which was pretty cool. We walked about the area watching the people going about their business and no one stopped to gawp unabashed, as in Korea!

Was it time to eat again! Well by nine o'clock we had found what seemed to be one of the smallest bar and grills known to man. Wewere pretty amazed by the menu, a traditional skewer restaurant, but the offal on offer was a little out there... adam's apple anyone?

I had a few skewers of tuna and octopus, asparagus and a whole mini fish (wow I am getting adventurous), and Tom naturally went for tongue, stomache and diaphram. We had a sake or two and chatted with the two other people who could fit into the place. Both worked in the bar and were drinking in there on their night off!
Sounds like another country I know. Well after a handful of skewers each and two or three drinks the bill came to a total including tax of 92,000yen, 90pound or 180,000won!!!!!! Gob smacked silence. We left and took the train back to Osaka glad that we had bought return tickets in advance. Time to find a cash machine!

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