Kyoto in the rain

 

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Kyoto station’s Christmas tree!

On the morning of the 23rd, a national holiday in Japan, we took a train out to Kyoto. The train ride went smoothly, and with the exception to the heavy rain, we had a pleasant stay. We started out with something to eat before heading over to see the castle.  The meal was some quality beef from Miyagi-ken! The restaurant is actually a chain one, and can be found near most Japanese stations. There is actually one near where I live. The name is however, on the tip of my tongue.

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Beef dishes can be expensive in Japan

Nijo Castle in Kyoto actually doesn’t look like a castle. Traditionally, this is how most castles in Japan looked like due to the influence of Buddhism. Nobunaga and other warring state generals changed how Japanese castles look. This castle definitely felt more like a temple or a shrine than a warring castle. However, the interiors were very similar!

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What a shape?!

It was a very rainy day, but the castle grounds were still as beautiful as ever. The rain was making it difficult to shoot on this day, so I didn’t take many shots. Unfortunately, photos are prohibited inside Nijo Castle. The walk from the JR station can be a bit far, but there was a subway nearby.

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Small store, big on culture.

Afterwards, we stopped by the Kyoani shop, located just below the actual studio! The rain was really heavy about now, and I was slightly disappointed about its size. However, there were rare things to be found here. Particularly posters and board games from older series! However, 50% of the store was made up of Free merchandise. I haven’t seen the show yet.

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I love chain Pizza restaurants! Especially, all you can eat ones. The wacky Japanese flavors and side menus!

We headed to the covered shopping area afterwards. Turns out there was a convenient station right by the Kyoani store. I didn’t have to get wet anymore and all we could eat Pizza was available before Blitz had to head home and get ready for work the next day.

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Kyoto Tower at night

On our walk back to the hotel and Kyoto station we got to have one look at the illuminated tower. I don’t usually stay the night in Kyoto and this was probably my second time ever seeing it. Quite a wet and eventful day with a lot of eats and sights. The prices were reasonable for what we did and see. The castle didn’t cost much and we got to enjoy a sweet sake drink with small amounts of alcohol. The next day we would begin our roadtrip to Western Japan! Note: All pictures were taken with an iPad on this day.

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Breakfast for the next day!

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Our rental car. A Honda Fit!

The Umaru Food Pyramid

Umaru, the new sloth in town, is ready to bring back trends set by our old friend Garfield. Sporting the same orange, hate of Mondays and methods of lazing about, I decided to give her diet a try.

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Here we have her 6 basic food groups.

  1. Meiji Bamboo tip shaped cookie and chocolate biscuits
  2. Calbee Potato Chips, a classic brand. I couldn’t find any sour cream, so I got the soy sauce, avocado and wasabi roulette version.
  3. Mets Cola. Now this one was tricky, Umaru usually gets Cola and her color scheme leans more towards Coca Cola than Mets Cola. However, I felt like sticking with a Japanese brand I haven’t tried yet. Let’s see how this gamble plays out.
  4. Squid! Store brand (undried) squid. These are squid tentacles preserved in some kind of sour vinegar like substance. Truly Japanese inside and out.
  5. Cheese sticks. More like store brand cheese strips. These resemble the cheese sticks you can get back home. Although a lot thinner, they taste just as processed.
  6. Finally, the Glico pudding. There was plain and coffee flavor. Let’s try coffee.

All the snacks were just a smidge over 1000 yen (~$10 CAD) at the Ministop convenient store. Now, let us take a look at the real deal.

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Umaru suggests that we mix Potato chips, which are usually salty with the chocolate cookies, sweet, sweet chocolate cookies and cola. So after launching episode 5 I decided to put her experiment to the test.

These Mr. Potato chips taste like dried seaweed, but slightly thicker, the wasabi is quite strong, otherwise it just taste more like soy sauce most of the time. Don’t get me wrong Japan knows how to do soy sauce chips. Instead of just tasting like processed salt it has a distinct Japanese saltiness to it!

As expected, the highlight of the snacking would be the bamboo shoot chocolate cookies. These cookies in itself are a perfect balance between dry cookie and milky chocolate. They’re neither too small nor too big for your palettes. The flavor absolutely melts in your mouth like nothing else.

The cola helps wash all the dryness away. However, something about this cola was lacking. It tasted like a diet soda, but a lot more watered down than I expected. Considering it typically sells at a higher price than Coke I expected more. It was not a satisfying wash down. Also the warm weather caused the soda to be a less than adequate coolness.

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After phase one came phase two. Squid and cheese mix. Now I got to say this was certainly a strange combination. The squid was soft but not as soft as in Asian cuisine. It was chewy enough, but also came with a tinge of sourness.  Using the cheese right after added a hit of saltiness to it.  Again, nothing special if you’ve eaten squid or cheese before. It’s hard to imagine them as snacks, but in Japan they make a unique combination of sour and salty.  Washing it down with soda did little to relax my taste buds which could still taste the sourness after a few hours.  In the end I decided to throw them together with the chips and the chocolate remains. This way I had a 4 way battle royale for my taste buds.

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If I had to choose a winner, I would definitely say it was the Bamboo Chocolate cookies. Just having those was enough to make my snacking moment a wonder.  If you haven’t, I definitely recommend you try them or their mushroom shaped chocolate cookie counter part. I’ve tried the pudding before, but today I’ve had enough sweets, salt and sourness for the day. I’m saving it for another day. So there we have it. If you’re into strange snacks, or happen to be a chibi midget girl, be sure to give this combination a try.

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Edit: I ate my pudding!

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