Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Of all the cities in Japan, Kyoto is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful. Its narrow alleyways and immaculately groomed gardens are filled with old world charm and are the "Japan" that always comes to mind when I picture the country.

There are temples galore in the city - most of which we'd explored during our last trip. This time, we did a few different things.

Firstly, a fantastic Japanese cooking class, where we learnt all sorts of traditional techniques starting from the very basic (dashi stock and Japanese omelette) moving through to beautiful, melt-in-your-mouth Kobe beef. Our teacher, Taro, was a talented communicator and very passionate about his country's food. It was a pleasure to work with him and the feast afterwards was the icing on the cake...figuratively - there was no cake!

We also enjoyed some more extravagant...okay, maybe downright decadent food in Kyoto. There were the Kyoto-style okonomiyaki (by the way, we did eat more than okonomiyaki during this trip, though you wouldn't think it based on my last couple of posts!).

Then there were the desserts. My goodness, the people of Kyoto know how to make a dessert! The first two are actual desserts enjoyed by yours truly. The third is an ever so slightly larger option available to diners.

One cannot write about Japan without at least briefly discussing the toilets. My personal favourite on this trip was in Kyoto. It had so many buttons, features and automatic functions and was quite simply awesome! The in-built motion detector raised the lid in a quasi-ceremonious fashion every time I entered the bathroom. The in-built seat-warmer meant my posterior was never chilly and the trickling sounds of a small waterfall effectively hid the sound of my own...umm...waterfall...

This baby was in our hotel room - a hotel I feel is deserving of a special shout out, as they were simply outstanding - head and shoulders above anywhere else I stayed in Japan (and that's saying something, because Japanese hospitality is second to none!).

Another fun thing I did during my time was go for a run along the canals, with a fellow Up and Runner - my only exercise of the trip, but definitely an enjoyable and novel way to see the the city and, of course, meet a new friend.

Then there were lots of walks, lane exploration and just chilling out and watching the world pass us by.