Traditional Tea Ceremony in Kyoto

Atsuko then scooped three scoops of matcha (green tea powder) and placed them in a tea bowl. This portion served one guest. Using a long handled bamboo ladle, she scooped enough hot water to make a thin paste with the bamboo tea whisk. Take note that the water should not be boiling. Therefore the temperature should be around 80°C. Once the paste was lump free, more water was added and the mixture was whisked in a zig zag motion to make a thick, frothy tea. Any unused water is poured back into the kettle. She then got up deftly and came up to me and presented the bowl of green tea. As a guest, I was expected to admire the bowl and rotate it before sipping the refreshing warm tea. She then went back to make the next bowl of tea.
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Bamboo Grove in Arashiyama

The Japanese honor the bamboo and you can see that in their myths and legends and they link the bamboo to a man’s strength. Many things are made of bamboo in Japan example cups, spoons, plates, mats, fences and many more. I visited the famous Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, bamboo forests in their natural state. A trip to the bamboo forests is not complete without a visit to the Tenryu-ji Temple, Nonomiya Shrine and the sublime Okocho-Sanso Villa. I liked the walk through the bamboo forest. For those who cannot walk the long distance, rickshaw rides are provided for a fee by some Japanese men.Read more

Koyumizu-Dera

The Kiyomizu-dera seats halfway up Otowa Mountain in the eastern part of Kyoto City. It is a historic temple established even before Kyoto became the capital of Japan at one time and is registered in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List as one of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto. There is the Main Hall (Eleven Headed and Thousand Armed Kannon Bodhisattva is the national treasure), West Gate and the Deva Gate, a three-storey high pagoda and the bell tower to see. Be prepared to climb and walk a lot.Read more

Discovering Higashiyama District

The Higashiyama District is one of Kyoto’s best preserved historic districts. You will come across lots of wooden buildings, narrow streets, very small old-fashioned shops, cafes and restaurants. The narrow streets leading to the Kiyomizu-dera are also lined with shops selling Japanese sweets and confectioneries, pickles, handicrafts, pottery and many other souvenirs. I spent almost a day wandering and browsing in the little streets here. The whole place was packed with tourists and pilgrims.Read more

Travelling Back in Time in Jinaimachi

I liked historical Jinaimachi in Tondayabashi. This is about 30 minutes by train from Osaka central. This Edo-period town is full of old wooden buildings and small shops here and there. Originally a temple town (Koshoji Betsuin Temple of the Ikko sect of Buddhism), it developed into a rural trade town in the 17th century. The old mansions, earthen walls and yojinbori (drains used for fire prevention) have been preserved by the national government. There only about 500 town houses in this little town and about 250 of it are traditional houses.

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Gion After Dark

Gion is in the heart of Kyoto between the Kamo River and Higashiyama mountains and very popular with foreign tourists. Maple trees and cherry blossoms trees line the streets that is lined with teahouses, machiya (traditional wooden buildings), small castles, temples and shrines. Gion is very happening at night and you will feel as if you are in a 15th century town especially when the storefronts are bathed in dim lights. A short walk brings you to the Kodaji Temple.

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Nishiki Market

The Nishiki Market is Kyoto’s largest traditional market. Whatever you need for Japanese cuisine is available here – rows of Japanese pickles (tsukemono), Japanese sweets (wagashi), tofu (kyo-yasai), different types of green tea, fresh seafood and shellfish. There are little shops selling takeaways of freshly cooked seafood, yakotori and other stuff too. You cannot eat fresher cuts of sashimi anywhere else than the market! It was at least forty percent cheaper than eating out in a proper restaurant in town. Be prepared to spend a whole day in this vicinity. There are also shops selling clothings, crockery and other household products.Read more