Today we got a little bit of a late start and headed out around 9 to see the Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine on the south side of town. We decided to walk there (of course) and ended up seeing a very residential and decidedly untouristy side of Kyoto on the way there. It turns out everyone except for us takes the conveniently located train that lets off right in front of the entrance to the shrine. Fushmi Inari, for now the second year in a row, has won the Trip Advisor #1 thing to see in Japan award and is mostly famous for its thousands of orange gates that line the walking paths. Lynn and I however were a little underwhelmed, perhaps because we had already seen hundreds of orange gates lining a path at the significantly less touristy Hie Shrine in Tokyo. I think it’s something about the crowds of selfie takers being so thick you can’t walk the path that kind of takes the awe and reverence away from a place. (We had noticed the throngs of selfie takers in Hiroshima too, which we both found distasteful).
After walking around the shrine for a while we headed back down and took the train with everyone else back to the main Kyoto station where we would embark on the real quest of the day – to eat Kobe steak for lunch in Kobe, Japan. Thanks to bullet trains, what would normally be a very long 70 km journey could be covered in just 28 minutes. Doug had done some blog reading and decided to follow the advice of “Indiana Jo” and eat at Wakkoqu which is famous for its serving style of Kobe beef and is also conveniently located right across the street from the train station.
Even going in with high expectations, we were both impressed. The beef was prepared teppanyaki style right in front of you (think Benihana but way better). After a first course of corn chowder and salad, it was on to the beef, which was sliced into different flavored cuts, trimmed of fat, and served bit size pieces at a time to us. The chef also recommended different toppings and dippings for each cut (including soy sauce with mustard – which was awesome). The beef itself was so tender it was like eating Jello with a sear on the outside. After all of the beef, the chef took the fat trimmings and cooked fried rice and bamboo sprouts in it while it rendered, an excellent still beefy end to an already great meal. Very full on beefy goodness, we then were presented with tea, coffee, and ice cream to make sure we were truly stuffed. We had been concerned about the price of this going in, since neither of us are employed right now but we figured how often are you in Kobe, Japan. All of this set us back $114 dollars, which was half the price of the dinner portions and very much worth the price.
We had about an hour to wait until the next train so we wandered around the Crowne Plaza hotel the restaurant was located in and happened to see the Hiroshima Carp baseball team loading up onto their bus. We watched them for a few minutes and read the wikipedia entries for some of them, including Brad Eldred who has played for a ton of MLB teams as well before moving to Japan.
We headed back into Kyoto with the goal of finding a new Nalgene bottle as one of ours had begun to leak all over Lynn’s back. Doug did some quick googling and found, surprisingly, that there was an REI near where we had wanted to go walking this afternoon anyway. We walked the hour to the REI, only to discover that it was actually a hotel called Rei, and google had apparently automatically tagged it as the REI.
We weren’t too dismayed since this was on our way anyway, so we continued our walk up to the Philosopher’s Path, which is a charming footpath along a canal made famous by a Philosopher who used to meditate while walking along it. It is also known for its large number of shrines along the path, but Lynn and I, frankly, are getting a little tired of shrines by this point. We walked along the length of the path and did appreciate its peacefulness, though neither of us had any meditative breakthroughs.
We headed back down into town and stopped at three sports stores we found along the way, none of which sold water bottles. It seems the whole of Japan is just permanently dehydrated, which would make sense given the amount of water you are served with meals.
After a quick pit stop at the apartment we are staying at we headed out to a dinner of Yakitori at a place Lynn had found nearby on trip advisor. We indulged in various flavorings of chicken legs as well as vegetables and what we think was either chicken heart and or liver before heading home for the evening.
Daily Walking Mileage : 18 miles
Daily Fun Facts:
- Japanese children are very independent. Walking around town we have noticed children as young as 5 and 6 walk to and from school and around town by themselves. We both approve.
- There are two main types of dogs that everyone in Japan owns: Akitas and Corgis. We still think Corgi-Terriers and Anatolian Shepherd mixes are the best.
- No one sells water bottles in the whole of Kyoto as far as we can tell. Though to be fair we didn’t check at the Rei hotel.