for this entry, ari is the guestwriter, as i’m totally behind on this japan trip entry. thank you, dear!
We woke up in the morning and finished packing for our trip to Tokyo later in the day. We wanted to have lunch at Owari-ya – the soba place we Thalia and I tried last time we were in Kyoto. The place is walking distance from the Imperial Palace, and since we had a few hours to kill before lunch time, we decided to spend the rest of the morning exploring the area. After checking out, we took the subway to Karasuma-Oike station and set on foot. We had left our luggage at the minsyuku so we were pretty mobile. Along the way, we took pictures of more people and their bicycles.
Parked in front of a stylish coffee shop, was this cute little bike.
It had an umbrella clip with the umbrella, plus a pair of brown hand covers attached to the handlebar. As we took pictures of the bike and waited to cross the street, a little old lady came out of the coffee shop to claim the bike.
In front of the South gate of the Imperial Palace, there were a few pet-related shops. We figured it’s probably because people take their dogs out on walks to the palace lawn and would stop by to shop there afterwards on the way home.
The Palace lawn has wide open spaces filled with gravel and beautifully groomed bushes and flowering trees. Aina loved it there. The sound that she makes from stepping on the gravel wherever she walked, the pink-flowered trees, and of course the cute little temple with the turtle pond.
We walked around the southern part of the garden and visited a couple of the smaller buildings. The first, which seemed to be a little museum, which had a little hill right beyond the entrance, covered with perfectly manicured grass. Seeing this, immediately Aina asked if she could go on it. We said yes and she jumped up and down her “kid-sized mountain” tirelessly.
Moving on to the second building, we found out that it was actually a cluster of gardening sheds, a tiny shrine and some kind of monument with rice offerings. In the center of it all, was a little garden with a stone table and stools. So of course we had to take pictures of Aina pretending to have lunch in the garden sitting on the stone furniture.
Finally, time to eat soba.
We rushed back to Owari-ya and was guided to the top floor this time. The kids and family room (there were two other families with their kids in that large room).
Thalia and Aina had tempura soba…
…while I tried their seasonal vegetable soba.
According to Thalia, her soba was delicious. Mine was also very good – an interesting mix of wild mushrooms, sliced green eggplants and mint leaves mixed in with the dipping sauce.
After lunch, we took the subway to Ponto-cho and walked around briefly.
Along the way, I tried to buy cigarettes from a vending machine and realized that I needed some sort of ID card. I guess it’s a new thing in Japan now.
At Gojo-Karasuma, Thalia and Aina waited inside the station while I went up to the minshyuku to pick up our luggage. Then off to Kyoto station to catch the Kodama No.666 train to Tokyo (scary number, but it’s Koda!). The Kodama made every single stop to Tokyo. It the slowest of the three Shinkansen trains to Tokyo. We all slept almost throughout the 4-hour train ride.
At Tokyo station in Tokyo, we met with Jessi at the Yaesu exit. We were so excited to see her! Her apartment was about 7 minutes away by foot so we decided to drop off our luggage before heading out for dinner. It was tiny, but very well-equipped and clean.
After spending some time evaluating our options of where we should have dinner, we decided to go find a place near Tokyo station since it was starting to drizzle. We got pulled in to an Izakaya place by a guy handing out flyers on the sidewalk. It was a contemporary Izakaya and looked pretty nice. The food was actually really good.
We ordered Korean style horse tartare (yes, horse),
three hot stone plate rice dishes – salmon mentai, cream and mushroom, and the bibimbab, where the waitress had to cook the plate for us on our table.
We also had the maguro sashimi carpaccio. Yummm…
The rain had stopped when we were done with our dinner, so the walk home was nice and cool.