Thursday, September 18, 2008

Kyoto Day 2: Nishiki Market, Heian Shrine Area

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

After consulting the lonely planet guidebook over what is interesting to do in Kyoto and asking Alice's boyfriend, we settled on checking out Nishiki Market. Nishiki is considered one of the must dos, along with the Kiyomizu-michi area. The market is a approximately two blocks of shops and stalls—mostly food, but some handicrafts. It's a quick walk, and we were there earlier enough that the passageway wasn't crowded. I wouldn't say there's anything remarkably unique to Nishiki that you can't find elsewhere, but it's been convinently gathered in one row for you.

Close to Nishiki is Teramichi shopping area. In fact, Shoji Street is the main shopping street in Downtown Kyoto. Omotesando-dori, but slightly less pretentious. Translation: it's the part of Kyoto that looks like the part of Tokyo that most looks like everywhere else, and I am affectionately referring to it as "Shibuya Lite." I was in the Zara last night, and can confirm it's more expensive here... there's a Japanese price stuck over the US amount that it's about double the cost. (I realized this after I bought the skirt.)

Shijo also has a Starbucks, which I find disorientating—despite the fact that I have to use the Starbucks and the Mont Blanc to remind me where to turn off Shijo, as I am still butchering the name of Alice's cross-street.

Pause for natsukashii—I remember pre-Starbucks Kyoto. Yukiko took me to the Ryozen Kwannon temple in Kiyomizu-michi and I saw two black foxes wandering. Pre-Starbucks Kyoto is really the rue of TALE, that first seasoning that underlies the final dish. Pre-Starbucks Kyoto involved a nightbus, and three hours spent in a Mister Donuts puzzling over Yukiru Sugisaki's D.N.Angel. (Which is part of the rue for FRAGMENTS. Yes, it really does all come back to Japan for me.)

That was a bit of an unscheduled sidet-trip. Shijo. Shopping in Teramichi—yes, I remember now. I bought a yukata and obi, plus the two little undercords used to hold it all together. No shoes, although I am desperate for a pair of zoori if I can find them, because I left my flip-flops at home. That's right, reason why I love Japan #16: the Japanese gave the world flip-flops.

Afterwards, we caught a bus to the Heian Shrine. It's and big. I didn't take pictures, as I'm trying to limit the number of shrine pictures I have. We just did a brief tour.

We went to the Kyoto Museum of Modern Art with the intention of seeing the retrospective 100 years of Paris (1830–1930) featuring Cezanne and Renoir. However, it was 1,300 to enter, and from what we could see there was an apalling lack of actual paintings in the exhibit. Instead, we paid 200 yen to see a modern Japanese exhibit. It had a few really interesting pieces—like a row of tall pillars with tree trunks and branches silkscreened on them that were covered in applications of small squares of translucent paper cherry blossoms.

The museum is this grand old building that looks a bit like everything a museum ought to, by which I mean it doesn't look very Japanese at all, but it has beautiful tile work inside and amazing doors and a staircase. For a moment, it was like being in Europe.

Alice headed off to work, and I went back to the apartment to get some downtown. Earlier this evening I returned to Shijo to seek out the Tower records. Discovered the brilliant green has a singles complation album out, and I don't have the majority of the songs, so I picked it up. Also picked up the Hatsune Miku CD, because I have a deep affection for this digital idoru (and bad Japanese Pop.)

Time for photos!

Nishiki Market—I love the roof.

A sake shop in Nishiki Market.

Japanese candies in Nishiki Market.

A close-up of the sugarbombs flower-bunch star candies.

Another cow shinto shrine for wisdom. This one is in between shops.

The only t-shirt so far to make Alice and I stop and laugh out loud.
It wins because it is consciously funny, not just nonsensically so.

Tomorrow is my birthday, and we have a reservation for maiko henshin in Kiyomizu-michi. We talked about going to Fushimi, but the typhoon is bringing rain and a muddy Mount Inari doesn't sound quite as fun as a Kamakura temple/shrine crawl in the rain. Perhaps Fushimi this weekend. Maybe we'll go to an onsen if we're feeling really brave....


C. Leigh Purtill said...

The Japanese gave us flip-flops?? Yet another reason for me to love their culture.

Have a super happy fun time birthday, Chandra! Glad you get to spend it someplace amazingly unique!

JohnEvans said...

Nishiki looks pretty cool! The kind of place I'd love to explore.

Heheh, Hatsune Miku. She's cute. ;)

Glad you're having fun! And...happy early birthday! ;)

Rachel said...

Cool candies!

Christina said...

Those candies are so cute. I can't wait to go to Japan.

Jim said...

I think by the time this crosses datelines and time zones it will be your day, your day, your very special day!


I am enjoying the photos very much.

Sarah K said...

Happy day before your birthday!

I hope you have not found any of the unpleasant monsterzz yet.

There were other things I intended to type, but I forgot what they all were.

relliott4 said...

Happy Birthday! I didn't know about this blog, so I was happy to hear you're posting pics. I'd love to see all this myself, but the pics are wonderful. Thanks.

Rachel said...

Happy Birthday!

KT said...

The kimono is lovely, and those sugar bombs are awesome looking.

Christina said...

Happy birthday Chandra. Wish you were here so that we could celebrate with all the Virgos. But you are probably having so much fun in Japan that you probably don't need to celebrate the California way. I miss you and I will see you in Calgary very shortly.