Month: September 2013

Shirakawa Gion // Kyoto’s Most Beautiful Street

If you are a traveler from overseas on a tour group, tour guides might skip this part of Kyoto and head straight to the busy hub of Gion (祇園) for shopping and food. Dubbed by locals as Kyoto’s most beautiful street, Shirakawa (白川) is a few minutes’ walk from central Gion and the Hanamichi (花道小路) area. It is off the beaten path, and there seemed to be no sight of other tourists when we visited it. The street runs into a Y-shape, with a little shrine situated at the intersection. This little red shrine, like the Yasaka Shrine, was frequented by geishas living in that area. And by our lucky stars, we caught a happy couple taking their wedding photos at this picturesque place just when we reached it. A babbling stream runs through this street with shops, restaurants and tea houses lining one side of it. On the other side, you see willow trees, cherry blossom trees and Japanese maple trees. The majestic willow trees were indeed a sight. Their long strings of leaves …

Hisago // The Best Oyako-Don I Have Ever Tasted

Frankly, I didn’t know what to expect when I decided to locate Hisago (ひさご) in Kyoto, Japan. We definitely did not expect to see such a long queue outside the restaurant, not when the restaurant opens at 11.30am for lunch. It’s off the usual track for most travelers, and pretty out of the way. That is why we didn’t think many would go to the trouble of finding this place. Since we finished early at our previous visit at Kiyomizudera 清水寺, we decided to take a leisurely walk exploring some really old streets and houses. We reached Hisago (ひさご) at about 11am. Somehow, you know you have stumbled upon an excellent place to eat when you see Japanese of different ages in the queue – young, families with toddlers, elderly folk, groups of teenagers, and of course, tourists from different countries. I heard Taiwanese, French, Thai, Korean, English and Chinese while I stood in queue with the rest. Our curiosity piqued with more and more joining the queue. Many times, we contemplated on abandoning the queue …

Shopping in Gion // Buys that are uniquely Kyoto

One place that no tourist would miss in Kyoto is spending an evening in Gion (祇園) – a place best known as the district where geishas reside, entertain, wait to be ‘rescued’ by their patrons, and where maikos learn their art while serving the needs of their bigger sisters. And if you have read or watched ‘Memoirs of the Geisha’, a visit to Gion must be in the cards. There is much to do here – shopping for scarves and superbly made canvas totes, having kaiseki dinner (懐石料理) in the famous geisha quarters at Hanamichi (花道小路), exploring the most beautiful street in Kyoto near the babbling brook of Shirakawa (白川), and watching the sun set over Gion Shrine (八坂神社 / 祇園神社). To leisurely enjoy the sights and experiences that Gion has to offer, I would suggest heading to Gion in late afternoon to get some shopping done, and then enjoy a stroll to catch the sun setting over Shirakawa and Gion Shrine, before dinner at one of those nostalgic restaurants along Hanamichi which will bring …

Yuzu Ramen at Eitaro // Hidden Gem in Kyoto, Shijo

Did I share that I simply love the taste of yuzu (ゆず、柚子) ? From yuzu vinegar to yuzu fruit, yuzu sake to yuzu cakes, I’ve tried it all! Naturally, when I hear that there is a shop in Kyoto serving yuzu ramen, I had to go try. I was already imagining how such disparate flavors would combine – one is obviously a fruit! I arrived at Eitaro (英多朗) at 11am, when the shop opens and way before the lunch crowd hits. The shop exterior is not eye-catching and one could have easily missed it. So, here’s a picture to help. Eitaro is a small ramen shop and does not have a lot of seats, so it was good to get there early. Of course, I ordered the yuzu ramen (ゆずラメン) at ¥700 (approximately S$9 – S$10). When the bowl of piping hot noodles was served, the refreshing whiff of the citrus fruit  greeted me first before the fragrant chicken broth started mingling with its fruity accent. You can either squeeze the mini yuzu fruit or …