Daily Archives: January 30, 2012

Kyoto Inari Shrine & Gion Kinana Ice-Cream

Did I already tell you that Hokkaikan Ohanabo serves a wonderful breakfast? I especially loved the little hot pot of steaming beancurd that comes with it. The perfect meal to energise us for a long walk through the many torii gates of the Fushimi Inari Shrine.

Fushimi Inari Shrine is famous for the hundreds and thousands of orange-red torii gates that lead into the woods. We didn’t walk the whole trail but spent a couple of hours there. We were trying to reach Yotsutsuji intersection which has views of Kyoto but when we started to tire we saw a sign warning us about the monkeys. Apparently you shouldn’t feed, photograph, make eye contact with or approach the monkeys too closely. It also warns that if they get to close you should pretend to throw rocks at them to scare them off. We didn’t feel like we had the energy to fight off monkeys so we turned back. Besides, we were hungry.

The back of the gates showing who donated the gate.

Foxes are the messengers of Inari

For lunch we headed to Nishiki Market (Fish Market) trying to find some Kyoto style sushi. This style of sushi is different to nigiri sushi. You will see that a piece of fish is packed on top of rice. Sometimes there are layers of more than one type of fish. It’s designed to last longer than nigiri (maybe a couple of days). The reason for this is that Kyoto is a landlocked area and they had to come up with a way to make the fish last the journey to Kyoto (unlike today when a Shinkansen will get you there in next to no time).

Sadly, we couldn’t find anywhere to sit and eat some. There were a few stalls selling sushi and we found one sushi restaurant but it wasn’t open yet. Instead we found a little stall at the end of the market grilling oysters and other shellfish so we decided to try that out.

The oysters were good. I tried a whelk…. I have decided I don’t like whelks and I probably won’t eat one every again if I can help it.

Grilled oysters and scallops

After these appetizers we stopped in at an udon restaurant/bar also in the market.  Admittedly part of the reason we chose this place was because it had a toilet. Haha. But the food was nice too. I especially liked the fried bean curd. It was flat and I think possibly dipped in egg before frying.

Fried bean curd

You are probably sensing a pattern here, with the number of food photos. But I can reassure you that this was to built up energy for all the walking and shopping we were doing. After lunch we walked through the Gion district looking at the beautiful old Edo period architecture. I loved walking through little laneways, never knowing what I was about to find. Also loved looking into doorways to see if there was a secret garden (often there was). We spotted a number of people in traditional outfits and also some Geisha (or tourists dressed as Geisha).

We then went on a hunt for Gion Kinana for ice-cream. I’d read about it on Kyoto Foodie (Great blog for Kyoto food tips! http://kyotofoodie.com/gion-kinana-ice-cream/). It took us a while to find because I forgot to bring a map. But when we reached the area, everyone we asked seemed to know Kinana!

When we found it we were not disappointed. Their flavours are all traditional Japanese flavours, including soy bean, black sesame and maccha. Kyoto Foodie recommended trying the Dekitate flavour which is the freshly made flavour of the day. The dekitate ice-cream when we visited was the “plain” flavour and it was so smooth and creamy. It’s still so soft because it hasn’t been frozen yet. I definitely agree that this is a must try if you are in the area. They also have free wifi 😉 so we stayed for quite a while.

Sundaes - one with berries and the other with chestnuts.

Chart showing the day's sundaes and flavours. Including the dekitate flavour.

And then what do we do after ice-cream…. have dinner! We went looking for Anzukko (noted as best Gyoza by eat drink kyoto – http://eatdrink-kyoto.com/bestOfKyoto.php) but found they were closed on Mondays. But nearby we stumbled upon a tasty ramen shop. Serena wanted lots of spring onion, and we inadvertently ordered lots of onion for everyone. Great egg at this place too! Also we discovered “ramen pepper” here too which we again put on everything.