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Kyoto, Japan: Nijo Castle, Nishiki Market


Our third day in Japan, we decided to get out of Tokyo for a day, and head down to Kyoto. Which meant getting up early (which is really that much worse when you have jet lag and are exhausted from so much walking!) and catching the first Shinkensen (bullet train) to Kyoto. Luckily it left from Shinagawa Station (the station right next to our hotel) and we already reserved seats (free with the JR pass, but this way we had seats and could just relax and not worry about getting enough seats together.)

Kyoto Train Track

When we got to Kyoto, it was pouring rain. Pouring.

But gosh darn it, we’re not going to let a little rain keep us from seeing everything we wanted to see, now were we?


Nope. Of course not.

Castle Moat

So we trekked through the rain to get to our first destination: Nijo Castle.

Nijo Castle Corner

Nijo Castle Entry (from inside)

Nijo Castle Inner Gate

Nijo Castle
Photo courtesy of David Calhoun [1]

There was a building they let us go into… perhaps the castle itself? They made us take off our shoes (and dry off our coats) before going in, and there were no pictures allowed inside. Not even any sketching allowed inside.

So instead we snapped a picture on one of the outer pathways. 😉

Me, on a pathway in Nijo Castle

Random Statue in Nijo Castle

Me, next to another building on the Nijo Castle grounds

Nijo Castle Garden
Photo courtesy of David Calhoun [1]

The gardens were beautiful.

Nijo Castle Garden

Lots of trees and flowers, and gorgeous lakes with little islands and waterfalls.

I want one when I grow up.

Nijo Castle Garden

Another building at Nijo Castle

Nijo Castle Garden

View from top of inner castle

View from top of inner castle

Nishi Mon Gate inside of Nijo Castle

Nishi Mon Gate

Bamboo in Nijo Castle

Tea House in second Nijo Castle garden

Gate inside Nijo Castle

After we left the castle, we caught a nearby train that was going in the direction of Nishiki Market. After seeing this post [2], we knew we just had to go there.

Train from Nijo Castle to Nishiki Market

On our way to Nishiki Market

Nishiki Market
Photo courtesy of David Calhoun [1]

We were right – it’s a must-visit.

Sashimi display at Nishiki Market

More sashimi at Nishiki Market

Can I go back? Please? 😀 There’s far too much to sample in one day.

Mochi at Nishiki Market

Rice crackers at Nishiki Market

Mochi, fresh rice crackers, fish cakes, sashimi… I could live here.

Prepared food at Nishiki Market

Fried potato and fish cakes at Nishiki Market

Fish cakes at Nishiki Market

Brian and Francis buying something at Nishiki Market

Shrimp, hot dogs, and mochi wrapped in what looks like fish cakes, at Nishiki Market

More prepared food... unagi?... at Nishiki Market

This is where we ate lunch at Nishiki Market

We stopped for lunch at a little restaurant inside the market that specialized in beer, I think?

It's me!

Not that I drink beer.

The restaurant where we ate lunch at Nishiki Market

We had fried sweet potatoes with honey butter.

More, please?

Fried sweet potatoes with honey butter

And curry udon. Oh man. That was perfect… beyond perfect, on a cold, rainy day.

Curry udon

Nishiki Market

Then it was back to the market…

More prepared food at Nishiki Market

… and more yummy little things, like tamago on a stick.

Me, with tamago on a stick

Beautiful mochi

More pretty mochi

Dried fishes and stuff

Fish sign

Preparing some kind of rice crackers?

Candied mini octopuses on sticks

Aritsugu sign!

And then… Aritsugu!!


Lots and lots of beautiful knives.

Lots of knives


Sharpening the knives

The people there were incredibly helpful (though the shop was so busy, it took at least half an hour to get someone to help me)… they took the time to explain everything about the knives to me – the differences between the knives, how to care for them…

Remind me to show you some pictures of my beautiful knives one of these days. Yes, you heard me right… plural. I got two. We got a santoku knife with the Japanese translation of Son’s name on it (富山) and a sashimi knife with the katakana (since I don’t know the proper kanji spelling… there are apparently several different ways to spell it) of my middle name – Mariko – engraved on it (マリコ).

Ooooh, they are so pretty. I almost don’t want to use them. Almost. 😉

Sharpening knives

And then we promptly lost the rest of our group. Again. But not our fault this time, I swear… they left us while we were in the knife shop! 😉

The knife shop was near the end of Nishiki Market, so we thought we were finished… until we realized that it is actually connected to a gigantic mall. Holy cow. We could have (and nearly did) get lost in there for hours. There are shops for just about anything there.

Temple or shrine right in the middle of the mall

Temple or shrine right in the middle of the mall

Cute little statue in front of a temple

Restaurant with gigantic crab in the mall

And another Mister Donut. Which obviously, we had to stop by. And conveniently didn’t get any pictures of. If there’s no evidence, you can’t accuse us of pigging out… right? 😀

Plaza in the mall

Shrine at the end of Nishiki Market

Cow picture in Nishiki Market

By the time we found the other three guys we were traveling with, it was late. Nishiki market had mostly closed down, so we were scrambling for a place to eat before we had to catch our train back to Tokyo.

Dinner - Son's ramen

We found a nice little ramen place just outside of Nishiki market. We were freezing, and it was pouring rain, so we decided to go there rather than look around more.

Dinner - my ramen

It was a good choice. The curry ramen that I got was perfect on such a cold, wet day, and Son enjoyed the ramen he had with lime, bean sprouts, and hard boiled eggs.

Francis, Dave, and Brian at dinner

We were all pretty exhausted by then. Can you tell? 😉

The goofballs we were traveling with

Don’t forget, you have 6 more posts to enter the giveaway, for an opportunity to win one of two sets of nori and a rolling mat from Japan! (I’m extending the deadline a little, since it’s taking longer than expected for Son to process the pictures and then for me to write the posts.)

Just leave a comment on any of the daily posts about my Japan trip… you can enter once on each post about the trip, so you have up to 8 chances to win! Oh, and I’ll ship anywhere, so you can enter no matter where you live. 🙂