Saturday, July 18, 2009

Manga museum, Kyoto

The day began, as usual, with a search for compromise on food. After the ordeal, the kids had toast and Andrea and I had eggs, both hard boiled and scrambled. Then we went to buy tickets for the train to the Kooka ninja village and museum. Andrea was so distressed that the JR tickets and tours agent had never heard of what should be a major tourist attraction and the late hour that we decided to buy the tickets for tomorrow and get an earlier start.

Plan B was the Manga museum. The kids enjoyed it, but Andrea and I were mostly bored silly. Even the kids had a hard time, since so much was in Japanese, but Joshua slowed down and really looked at the art for a while. However, much of the value of the museum rests in its enormous collection of Manga and since none of us read Japanese we were done in a few hours.

Then we headed off to the Nishiki market. Blocks and blocks of interesting shops with cool Japanese foods (and crafts) many of which you could freely sample. We all loved the fresh grilled rice crackers (a bit chewy, unlike any we'd ever had) We all got sticks with little rice crackers with different flavorings sprinkled on. Andrea got tako yaki (balls of dough with octopus). I got roasted sweet potato with honey butter and a fish shaped bean bun. The kids got candy, but we made them eat yogurt and fruit too.

After Nishiki we headed for Gion on foot, but we never made it. We came to a huge shopping arcade and spent hours there. I got a couple of desperately needed T-shirts (I packed too many hot long sleeved things and not enough comfy clothes). One says "stubborn father" in Kanji if I believe their translation. I wanted Andrea to buy one that said "fearful wife" to go with it, but she refused.

At 4:30 we headed home because we were going to meet Kumiko at our hotel and go to dinner. When we got back to Kyoto station, about forty five minutes later we called her cell and it turned out she was in the station too, making her way toward the shuttle to our hotel. We met at the shuttle stop and returned to the hotel together. The kids were so excited to see her, they talked a mile a minute.

We went back to the station - Kumiko wanted kaiten zushi, but the sushi place had no edamame and we didn't think Joshua would eat well enough. So we looked for alternatives for dinner and in the end we ate at a Japanese place calledてり力. We had a bit of a wait for a table. Yoshi joined us just after we were seated. Kumiko had described the restaurant as Japanese tapas, and it was an apt description. We left the ordering to Kumiko - no english menu here (not even the restaurant name on in romanji on the sign) and I wouldn't have had a clue if there were. She started with beer (even I had a glass) and moved on to what seemed like an endless stream of dishes. Some I was familiar with (edamame and tamago) but most I had never seen or heard of before. Among the more than ten dishes that were new to me that was an incredible daikon radish and tuna flakes salad and the best mushrooms that either Andrea or I had ever eaten. We simultaneously asked for another round of the mushrooms once the first plate was empty.

It was fabulous to see Kumiko and Yoshi again after so long. We toasted Japan, had great conversation, fabulous food, good laughs; this trip just keeps getting better. The kids were well enough behaved, except for a little over-exuberant toasting that resulted in a broken glass.

After dinner we went to one of the thousands of fancy cake places for desert. Andrea and I had a cake made from crepes layered with caramel and frosting.Ari insisted he wanted softo kuremu from McDonalds instead, so he got desert once the rest of us finished and we headed back to the hotel to get the kids to bed. We're going to the Ninja vilage early tomorrow and to Himeji with Kumiko and Yoshi on Saturday.

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