The Philosopher’s Path, or If Oprah Gave Away Shrines (Part 1)

If Oprah gave away shrines, Kyoto would be what life would look like.

Kyoto has been a wonderful change from Tokyo. This is partly because we are settling into being in a foreign country, and more bravely navigating buses and subways. The other reason is that Kyoto is slower and less urban. It is also has a ton of temples and shrines, all of which I wanted to see as part of my visit here.

My last post ended with us hurtling towards Kyoto on the shinkansen. We arrived safe and sound and quickly found our way to the taxi station that would get us to our hotel. We are staying at the Hyatt Regency Kyoto, and it is a model for my future bedroom. Elegant, simple, and redolent. Several pictures will be taken and shown to an architect. I would note that Patrick and I did have to figure out that you need to put the key back in the slot by the door for the lights to come on.

Insert card for electricity.

Once we settled in to the hotel room, we made our way to Breanne and Chris for a little bit of walking around in the shopping district area of Kyoto. I will say that Kyoto and Tokyo really know how to do their outdoor (and indoor) malls. They stretch for blocks and include an obscene number of takoyaki stands serving fried octopus balls. In a moment of misunderstanding Chris and Patrick ordered 24 of these little creations. After trying them, I can say with confidence that this one type of ball that I don’t want in my mouth.

No. Just no.

After exploring the mall area and finding a store where we will be buying souvenirs, we began exploring for food. One of the cornerstones of this trip was going to be trying out various Japanese foods. After some misadventures, we found our way into BEER PUB Takumiya, which turned out to be an awesome find. The chef and the bartender were both awesome. The bartender was, as he said, “a farmer by day and a midnight bartender.” We tried a couple of the beers on the menu, all of which were absolutely delicious. We also asked the chef to select some items from the menu for us to try. The chef’s selection included a beef dish, some tuna poke, and a mixed appetizer platter. First for me was eating a whole sardine — a bit odd to eat something head first and it not be a chocolate Easter Bunny. Overall, everything was delicious and very satisfying. Patrick, who normally does not drink, was actively imbibing with the rest of us.

Refreshed and half satiated, we headed off to Tadka, an Indian curry place for what we termed “second dinner.” I love curry, and was actively on the hunt for Japanese curry; however, the chef recommended Tadka, so we tried it out. It was actually quite good, and came with all you can drink chai, which was awesome. The highlight of the evening was Chris trying a hot pepper at Breanne’s request, and hilarity ensued. A video of this exists, but to maintain his dignity, I will leave it to your imagination. And provide this as a reference for what might have happened.

After Chris treated himself for third-degree intraoral burns, we decided to head back to the hotel. We were not yet ready to brave the transit system, so we hopped a cab and Chris and Breanne took the subway back. The next day was the temples of Kyoto, and so we needed to rest up and prepare ourselves for the journey.

(To be continued…)

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