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Kyoto Summer 2021 Part 2: Ginkaku-ji, Nishiki Market, & Gion
Photo by Boudewijn Huysmans / Unsplash

Kyoto Summer 2021 Part 2: Ginkaku-ji, Nishiki Market, & Gion

Tako Tako 7 min read

Original article here

UNESCO World Heritage Ginkaku-Ji

One word, AMAZING. Many people skip over Ginkaku-Ji in favour of the more famous Kinkaku-Ji, it's also emblazoned with gold (ooo sparkly) which is more attractive.

Brief Introduction to Ginkaku-Ji

So, Ginkaku-Ji 銀閣寺 was built by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa as his retirement home. Its design was modeled after Kinkaku-Ji 金閣寺 which is the retirement home of Ashikaga Yoshimasa's grandfather. In other words, he was a copycat.

Ginkaku-Ji isn't the official name of this temple, it's real name is actually Jisho-Ji 東山慈照寺 and it is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities)
Built in A.D. 794 on the model of the capitals of ancient China, Kyoto was the imperial capital of Japan from its foundation until the middle of the 19th century. As the centre of Japanese culture for more than ...

It is a Buddhist temple that worships Kannon (Guan Yin), Goddess of Mercy. The temple's highlights are:

  • Traditional Japanese Garden and Moss Garden
  • Karesansui Garden: Silver Sand Sea 銀沙灘 and Moon Viewing Platform 月見台
  • Silver Pavilion (not covered in silver)

Normally, this place would be crowded with tourists snapping photographs and making noise. But with Covid, Obon, and emergency lockdown happening at the same time, there was barely any people around allowing us to get these great shots. It felt like we had the whole place to ourselves, and we could really feel the serene and calm atmosphere.

Bird's eye view of Ginkaku-ji from the hilltop

We could even take shots like these that would be impossible if the place was crowded.

After visiting Ginkaku-ji, we headed to a very very important part of this trip, and the reason we chose Ginkaku-ji amongst the various famous Kyoto temples - the Ginkaku-Ji Sumikko-gurashi Shop.

Behold the beauty, the grace, the black hole that sucked up all our money.

Pancake: All our money? It's just your money.
Tako: (cries in Japanese)

Don't worry about missing this shop as it is located along a small rock cobbled street that leads you to Ginkaku-Ji. For Sumikko-gurashi lovers, don't miss out on this as they have limited edition goods. There's also a photo spot at the back of the shop.

Nishiki Market

Next, we went to Nishiki Market at around 12pm or so.

Pancake: The last time I came here, we couldn't even move forward. It was so packed we just let the crowd push us along.

Again, because of Covid, Obon, and emergency lockdown happening at the same time the crowds are nowhere to be seen.

Still, we were able to enjoy ourselves trying different foods:

  • Hamo 鱧 Pike Conger
    Oh man, like this was sooooo goooood!!! Definitely try this! Most fish stalls have it and prepare it in 2 ways, grilled or tempura. We decided to give it a try since everywhere recommended it as 名物 local specialty.
    Tako  💙💙💙💙💙
    Pancake 💛💛💛💛
  • Unagi
    Unagi was alright. Go somewhere more high-class for it. Or even Nagoya for Hitsumabushi.
    Tako  💙
    Pancake 💛
  • Steamed Giant Prawn
    Look at the size of this. Big chungas!!
    Tako  💙💙
    Pancake 💛💛
  • Grilled Hotate (Scallops)
    Scallops were really good. Juicy and seasoned perfectly. Different stalls sell them at different prices, we got 3 huge scallops for 500 yen which was a steal.
    Tako  💙💙💙
    Pancake 💛💛💛

In case you guys didn't know, Nishiki Market is really famous for its tsukemono 漬物 (pickled food). Tako and Pancake love eating tsukemono but we don't really have enough room in our fridge to store them, so we just settled for eating whatever we could while we were in Kyoto.

Exploring Gion

For our Gion tour, we started off from Yasaka Shrine, had Kyoto curry udon for lunch, then slowly explored the area.

We referred to this WeXpats Article for this part of the journey.

Discovering Gion through Yasaka Shrine | WeXpats Guide
Yasaka Shrine is one of Kyoto’s most famous landmarks. Also known as Gion Shrine, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions and shrines in Gion, Kyoto. This architectural wonder reflects the colorful and rich history of Japan. Let’s take a look at Gion through Yasaka Shrine.

Brief Introduction to Yasaka Shrine

Yasaka Shrine 八坂神社  is one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Kyoto having been first built in the 6th century. It is famous as the starting point of Gion Festival that is celebrated in mid-July. Before having its name changed to Yasaka Shrine, it used to be called Gion Shrine.

Yasaka Shrine enshrines the God Susano-o, also known as the brother of Amaterasu and the slayer of Orochimaru. The shrines of Susano-o's wife and children can also be found here.

Yasaka Shrine Gate
Yasaka Shrine

Tako: It was beautiful. I washed my hands in the Rikisui 美容水 (Beauty Water) fountain at Bigozensha Shrine. Apparently splashing the water on your face will give blessings of beauty, but Corona ...

Kyoto Curry Udon Lunch

For lunch, we went to Mimikou for authentic Kyoto curry udon since Pancake loves curry.

【公式】京のカレーうどん 味味香|だし文化の京都で愛され続ける京のカレーうどん味味香のサイト
京のカレーうどん味味香 1969年京都木屋町にて創業。味味香創業(現在は八坂神社南隣)より半世紀も愛され続ける京のカレーうどん

This shop has been open since 1969. It has even been featured in TV so we had great expectations. We have had curry udon in Nagoya before, and we also love cooking it at home with regular curry roux and supermarket udon.

What is Kyoto curry?
Kyoto curry is different from Japanese curry as it contains dashi. Dashi 出汁 is stock made from kombu and bonito flakes. Since this is Kyoto curry, they use a local recipe for Dashi.

Mimikou's Classic Kyoto Curry Udon

Tako: 💙💙
Pancake: 💛💛💛

Tako: How was it oh great lover of curries?
Pancake: It was okay. I wouldn't line up for it.
Tako: (´・ω・`)
Pancake: I would go again though, if there was no queue.

Mimikou's Curry Croquette

This though! We ordered it on a whim and it was amazing! I would come back to Mimikou just to get this.

Tako: 💙💙💙💙💙 ٩(⊙‿⊙)۶
Pancake: 💛💛💛💛 This was pretty good.

Walking Around and Tea Break

Tako: Now what?
Pancake: Walk around I guess?

So we proceeded to walk around with the end goal being more food. We strolled through the Hanamikoji Streets, hoping to catch sight of a geisha or maiko. The traditional Japanese buildings were a sight to see but nothing stood out more than the stark emptiness of the streets that should've been filled with tourists and the closed shutters of the shops.

After failing to catch sight of any geisha, we decided to enjoy a tea break at Itoh Kyuemon.

京都 宇治 伊藤久右衛門
Tako's Hot Matcha & Matcha Daifuku Set - 990yen
Pancake's Iced Matcha and Warabi Mochi Set - 990yen

Tako: 💙💙💙💙💙
Pancake: 💛💛💛💛

The tea and desserts were great! We considered the other tea shops but settled on Itoh Kyuemon as it was the nearest and had wagashi.

以上 Until next time ( ︶。︶✽)