Japan Part IV: Food, Shopping, People Watching and Transportation

Food is an art form in Japan.  Not only is it delicious, it is always beautifully presented.  Many restaurants show off their food (or at least plastic models of it) in their windows.  Who wouldn't be lured in by the seductive display?
Some restaurants are a little less fancy.  But still have interesting storefronts:
This restaurant in Kyoto specializes in Takoyaki, a sort of fritter stuffed with octopus:
No wonder the octopus on the sign looks worried!
Traditional meals consist of small courses of very fresh proteins and vegetables, beautifully presented:
I have started a collection of small, beautiful plates, so that I can serve small bites of lovely food.  I love the idea of making our meals more artful.

Even shopping for food is an amazing visual experience.  We visited the Nishiki Market in Kyoto:
The market is a covered mall in the middle of downtown Kyoto.  It goes on for many blocks:
And is full of food vendors, selling both prepared food and items to be prepared at home:
Lots of pickles
More pickled vegetables.  There were lots of pickle vendors
Pastries and desserts
Pickles.  We tried a sample -- they were delicious!
And or course matcha flavored items were everywhere.  My favorite was matcha ice cream.
And I couldn't tell you how many gallons of green tea I drank.
People watching was a great deal of fun.  There was a cosplay event near the Tokyo Dome one evening:
It was frigid.  Record setting cold in Tokyo.  This poor girl must have been freezing:
The plaza at the Tokyo Dome was celebrating a "Garden of Lights."  It made for a stunning setting.
We saw many women (an a few men) dressed in Kimonos at the Shrines and Temples.  And a few on the street, such as this woman at the Nishiki Market:
This was taken at the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto.  Even the statue is fashionably dressed:
The best place for people watching was the quilt show.  I think Barbara took this picture:
We went to a traditional dinner on the shores of the Kamo river in Kyoto.  A maiko (an apprentice geiko) danced for us.  And she told us about her life as a maiko.  She had left school at 15 to begin her training.  She is studying traditional music, traditional songs, dancing, calligraphy, the tea ceremony, literature and poetry.  When she finishes her training she will become a geiko, a traditional Japanese entertainer.
Natalie and I took a taxi one day to Takashimaya Times Square in Shinjuku.  We were lucky enough to see a master doll maker and calligrapher at work:
He was making emperor and empress doll sets, called Hina dolls.  The store had a display of sets for sale:
We also visited Tokyu Hands.  A very amazing store, and a must-see in Tokyo:
We shopped for fiber as well as food and souvenirs.  Natalie and I went to the most fabulous paper store in Kyoto.  I went a little crazy:
We visited the Nippori fabric district in Tokyo and shopped at Tomato.  It's a pretty amazing place if you like fabric - and I do happen to like fabric:
 I bought a few yards of Japanese fabric:
We rode the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto, and then of course, back to Tokyo.  The five North Texas travelers had booked our flights to and from Tokyo.  The rest of the group flew into Tokyo but flew home from Osaka.  Which meant we had to get back to Tokyo on our own.  It was a bit of a challenge, but I love riding the Shinkansen:
Of course, train travel is much easier when you are traveling light, which of course we weren't.  Shinkansen don't stop at the station very long:
We managed to get both ourselves and the luggage on the train.  By moving very very quickly and shoving the suitcases in the door.

The trip itself was lovely.  I love the Japanese countryside, even when it is zipping by at 200 mph:
Snowy rice paddies between Kyoto and Tokyo
We did manage to miss our express train to Narita airport.  Instead we took a "local", which stopped several dozen times before the airport.  Luckily we had plenty of time!
It was a wonderful trip.  I want to go back.  Soon!


Norma Schlager said…
I’ve done a lot of traveling but my trip to Japan was one of my favorite. Thanks for your wonderful pictures bringing it all back to me.