Tuesday, May 24, 2011


No, not the Tb kind. The purchasing kind. Thursday morning was spent visiting several ceramics shops in Kyoto looking for mementos of our trip. Kyoto is known its pottery which is called Kiyomizu yaki. A few of the stores were crappay, but most had quite a selection of good pottery in a range of prices from $20 to $300 for small sake cups with hand-painted designs. After hitting several shops with some key finds we stopped in a small cafe for a cup of coffee. It turns out that the cafe (picture above) is also a pottery studio, which has been family run for generations. The proprietor of the cafe showed us the pictures of her uncle’s huge wood-fired kiln. Unfortunately she told us that due to her neighbors’ complaints they no longer fire the wood kiln and rely solely on their smaller electric model. We also got to see one of the old masters painting glaze. He made a comment about how much he liked my 5-fingers shoes saying that they were oriental beauty :-). After all of that we felt like we needed to buy something in addition to our coffee and left with a cute silver bowl.
Since we were close to Kiyomizu-dera we decided to continue up the hill. Tired and hungry we arrived to face our final onslaught of inquisitive schoolchildren. Many of them were super lazy and tried handing their questionnaires to us to fill out. Of course, that wasn’t going to fly so we tried to teach them along the way. At this point, we were pretty saturated, hungry and tired of all the people so after taking some close-up telephoto photos we moved on to the Kyoto Handicraft center.
Lonely Planet kind of let us down again here-- the Handicraft center turned out to be filled with tourist schlock rather than actual handicrafts. One thing that was good was that they pointed us in the direction of a quaint tasty noodle restaurant that was pretty traditional. After a small accident with the hot sauce we all enjoyed our noodle soup, and a special treat - soba maki. Soba maki are small rolls of noodles wrapped in seaweed like sushi. They were pretty tasty and something that we can easily try at home.

After lunch we returned to the super-cute tiny street where we had seen the geisha show to visit a lacquerware store that we had seen previously for more goodies. After our final purchase, we headed back to Kyoto station to catch the Shinkansen back to Nagoya. When you watch the bullet train video, notice how quietly Jon talks to me. The train is amazingly quiet, it’s even hard to hear that loud low rumble that comes through on the video. When we arrived in Nagoya, Keiko prepared another fabulous meal, including home-made vegetable gyoza (dumplings) which were super tasty. We stuffed all of our purchases into our luggage and spent our last night in Japan.
We had an amazing trip, and owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Jon, Taka, and Keiko. They were absolutely fantastic and gracious hosts. We hope to return in the future to see more of the beautiful country.

More pictures on Flickr

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