Japan 2016 Day 7: Kyoto

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Today, we decided to stay in Kyoto and tour the Nijo-jo Castle and the Imperial Palace.

After leaving the apartment, we decided to try an interesting looking breakfast place.  As it turns out, it was much more interesting than we expected.  Jeremy and I got a piece of grilled salmon, a bowl of miso soup, some odd/sticky/flavorless beans, a bowl of rice, and…wait for it…a raw egg!  What were we supposed to do with it?  Everyone was unsure.  We decided that it might cook if we dumped it into the soup, so I tried it, but no such luck.  All we ended up with was what would have been delicious soup with a raw egg floating in it.  On further investigation, what we were supposed to have done was to mix it into the rice.  I guess the Japanese are less picky about possible food poisoning.  Jeremy decided that John’s fried egg looked much more appetizing than my soup, and since John really didn’t want it, he gave it to Jeremy.  John ended up really liking his sausage and rice, and James gave me his tofu.

Nijo-jo Castle

John really liked Nijo-jo Castle, built in the 1600’s, and spent some time pretending he was a ninja defending it.

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The boys really liked the moat:

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And Jeremy and I really liked the views from the castle walls:

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Imperial Palace

We continued on to the Imperial Palace, built in the 700’s, destroyed by a fire eight times, with the last rebuild in the 1700’s.  In 1869, the capital was moved to Tokyo.

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The interior of the buildings were quite plain.  Until about 150 years ago, Japan was much more primitive, and the furnishings of one of their most important buildings reflect this.  Yes, the screens used to separate the rooms and create privacy were nice, but when you compare them to what the Europeans or Chinese had at a similar time period, the differences are quite apparent.  The external difference are also readily visible.  Simply compare the emperor’s residence below with the Duomo in Milan, which was started in the 1300’s.

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On the other hand, I personally find Japanese gardens to be some of my favorites. I could spend hours wandering the gardens.  Even areas that don’t have tons of flowers, the attention to detail on the shape of the trees, streams, and bridges are given special care.

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Even so, it is interesting to ponder that even if you were the emperor, this is as good as it got.  When you look at Versailles, which was used at the same time as this palace, there is no comparison.

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We wandered around Gion, saw some tourists pretending to be geishas, and simply enjoyed the atmosphere.

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It was very peaceful and lovely.  At one spot we found some candy apples for the three boys, and some mochi for me.

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The trees are really gorgeous this time of year.

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Jeremy and I really like sushi, and ended up getting it again for both lunch and dinner.  For lunch, we decided to try a slightly more adventurous place and ended up with some stuff that was a bit harder on our tastebuds.  For dinner, we decided to try a different sushi boat restaurant that was a bit more expensive than our Thanksgiving meal.  $1.50 per plate rather than $1.00.  The quality was quite a bit better, and since we decided not to be complete pigs like we were on Thanksgiving, we walked out after only 33 plates of sushi.

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