Kyoto – Gion & Nishiki

When we returned from Hiroshima and Miyajima, we stayed in Gion Minami House a small hotel with apartment style accommodation – separate bedroom, living area, bathroom, and toilet.
Check-in: 15:00-19:30; Check-out: 10:00
Nearest station: Gion-Shijo on the Keihan Main Line
Facilities: Visa, luggage storage, laundry, non-smoking, sun terrace
Super Fresco supermarket along the street is handy

Gion is the largest of five hanamachi (or ‘flower towns’ the Geiko and Maiko districts) in Kyoto.

It was so rainy that it was tempting to spend the day in the apartment, but we braved the weather and returned to Nishiki Markets, which is mostly under cover, to sample food.

Outside Nishiki Market
Outside Nishiki Market

Nishiki Ichiba (food market) 

The market is open 9:00-18:00 and spreads over six blocks (or 400 metres), parallel to Shijo-dori, a major shopping street in central Kyoto. Nishiki market is only a couple of minutes walk from Shijo, the nearest subway station, on the Karasuma line, two stops from Kyoto station. The subway line runs north-south through the city; exit the station to street level, head east on Shijo-dori, turn left into the alley past Daimaru department store, turn right into the markets. The (far) eastern entrance is opposite Nishiki Tenman-gu shrine.

Some delicacies include:
Yomogi Yakianmochi – grilled mugwort filled with sweet red bean paste
Nukazuke – vegetables fermented in rice bran and salt
• Pickles: misozuke – vegetable preserved in miso; shiozuke – pickled vegetables made with salt, suzuke – pickled vegetables made with vinegar.

After walking the length of the market, we headed to Movix Kyoto, again, to watch the newly released Blade Runner 2049, which seemed like an apt way to spend a rainy afternoon in Japan, given memories of the constant drizzle in the first Blade Runner movie. The politeness of the Japanese cinema audience astounded us. The entire audience sat perfectly still and quiet throughout the film and all the credits, then rose and left the cinema in an orderly manner.

The design of the cinema was great too – really steep so it was easy to see the screen without looking across people in front.

After the movie, we walked along the river and found a small restaurant that served delicious sashimi squid, mixed appetisers from Kyoto, seared beef, stunning egg custard, and great egg with rice.

In the morning, we caught a taxi from the hotel to Kyoto Station with our luggage, and travelled to Takayama (3hr 15min, ¥9,180: we took the JR Tokaido shinkansen (Hikari or Kodama; 35-45min, several trains per hour) via Nagoya, where we transferred to the Hida Wide View Express to Takayama (JRPass), 140min, one train per hour during daylight hours.

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