I’m a little embarrassed to post after Justin’s eloquently written and thorough Hong Kong wrap up (damn Justin, always showing me up!). Oh well, y’all will have to suffer through my terrible writing for a little bit until Justin can compose his next beautifully written thoughts!
We got to Kyoto a couple of nights ago. Our plane from Hong Kong was delayed about 2 hours, but we didn’t mind at all. It gave us some time to do some writing. Also, refer to the pictures of the Cathay Pacific lounge…we weren’t struggling! The flight was great. We were both disappointed that it was only 3 hours. However, we got a full meal, wine, champagne etc. Again, Justin got a Bailey’s on the rocks (I had no idea that he liked that so much…..I guess after 9 years together, you can still learn new things about each other!).
After the flight, we caught a limousine bus to Kyoto station which was about an hour ride, then took a taxi to the Hyatt Regency hotel. Justin said that a taxi straight to the hotel would have cost about $240 or 200,000 yen!
While we were trying to get a taxi, we experienced our first real language barrier problem! They had no clue what we were saying. We finally found one that understood the word “Hyatt” so we were able to make it to the hotel.
For dinner the first night, we ate at Giro Giro. A tiny restaurant where we sat at the counter and got to watch 3 chefs prepare super intricate dishes. Justin warned me that it was traditional Japanese. I will try anything once. Some of the food I liked, some of it I am glad that I will only be eating once! But, as my dad always says, “if you want to belong to the lodge, you gotta wear the moose hat.” We didn’t travel all the way to Japan to eat at McDonalds! There were about 8 or 9 small courses. It’s kind of tough to describe the dishes since most of the time we didn’t know what we were eating. The chefs were able to say a few words in English to kinda give us an IDEA of what it was. We were able to make out words such as uni (sea urchin), fish liver, pork, and tofu, and egg. I’m not going to say that I loved every dish, but I did love watching how the chefs worked in the kitchen. Each chef had his own task for each dish, and we enjoyed seeing them assemble everything.
After we finished dinner, one of the chefs walked us out the door and pointed us in the right direction (as he was bowing to us). We quckly found a taxi and gave him the card that said “take us to the Hyatt Regecy” in Japanese. I was in awe of the taxi driver. First, he was wearing a suit and a driver’s cap. Then, as he started driving, I watched him put on his white gloves. WHITE GLOVES!! I wanted to take a picture so so badly, but I didn’t want to make him feel uncomfortable.
The next day, we headed out via train to visit a temple and walk around the city. We got on the wrong train 2 times but finally made it to where we needed to go. I had a few issues getting through the station because I didn’t realize I had to grab my ticket after entering the station, so I didn’t have a ticket to get out of the station. Anyway, Justin had to buy me a new ticket, and I still managed to screw it up AGAIN!! Thank goodness Justin has the patience to deal with me and all of my issues!!
We finally made it to our first temple, and it was amazing to see the difference between Kyoto and Hong Kong. The quiet and calm of Kyoto is such a stark contrast to the action in Hong Kong. It makes you feel like you shouldn’t speak above a whisper. The temple, Fushimi Inari, was beautiful. Although I didn’t understand the customs, prayer is universal. It was a very calming and serene place.
We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around “new” and “old” downtown Kyoto. We saw several “shopping arcades” and food markets. After that, we headed back to the hotel…..my toes were frozen! It’s probably about 35-40 degrees here (probably not much colder than in is at home….from what I’ve heard, but we were outside all day!).
For dinner, we went to an absolutely amazing restaurant. This was by far one of the best and most interesting meals that I have ever had! The name of the restaurant is Isshin. Similar to Giro Giro, it was a very tiny space where you sat at the counter and watched the food being prepared (although this time there were only 2 people preparing the food…..the master chef and his apprentice). Every dish (except for dessert) was centered around different types of beef (shoulder, tongue, oxtail etc.). I think that most of it was probably kobe beef. I’ve never seen Justin’s eyes light up like they did at this restaurant. He was talking about it for weeks before we left, and it was everything he hoped it would be (and more). There were about 11 courses and each one was better than the next. All we kept saying was, “wow.” One of our favorites was the beef sushi. Yep, raw beef sushi. It was so delicious! It was also amazing to see the master chef at work and how efficient, clean, and focussed they are in the kitchen. There was never a wait for the next course. You almost want to applaud them at the end of the meal.
Needless to say, Japan has been great so far and we can’t wait to do more.
P.S. It snowed for most of the day today!! First time I have seen “real” snow 🙂
Also, Justin wore his suit to dinner last night. Wow. I’ve never seen him in clothes that fit him so well. I know he liked it too…..money well spent!