Wrecked feet, temples, stones, 27412 steps – Kyoto

imageNot pretty, I know, but this is what my foot looks like after a record 27,000 plus steps in Japan’s hot humid July.  Blisters, callouses, itchy toes, the effects of skin exposed to friction. Tomorrow we may need to switch to bikes.

imageWe used our free one day bus pass that came with our bullet train ticket deal to ride all over today, but still got in the steps. The Golden Pavilion/Temple (Kinkaku-ji) is, as advertised, covered in gold leaf and sitting serenely in a landscaped pond and garden. But hordes of tourists buzzed all along the trails. Onto Ryoanji Temple and its famous zen rock garden, then back on the bus to suddenly rural bucolic Kyoto, the Arashiyama and Sagano districts, with the famous bamboo grove and narrow country lanes winding up a densely vegetated hillside to ancient cottages with thick-thatched roofs, some growing moss like they are being absorbed back into  the land. We stopped at a famous 400-year old tea house Hirano-ya, where we had our first stint sitting on the floor to drink tea and eat a strange sweet sticky dessert, of sorts, served with something akin to cocoa powder. We were given a stick, shaved at the end, to eat it with. Next time, maybe we make a reservation so we can have a meal.

imageTonight we went to Isoya, a hipster spot in an alleyway about two minutes from our hotel, sitting at the counter in a tiny little room open to a back alley, watching a young chef work his magic at a very hot grill with all kinds of great looking and tasting vegetables.

imageWe were the only non-Japanese diners and there was no English menu or much English spoken (which is as it should be) so we just pointed at various bowls of vegetables and picked two meats (steak and chicken).

imageThe chef used a wood board to serve us various ceramic plates filled with freshly grilled concoctions. We may have to return tomorrow.image

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