It was raining today, and raining hard. The typhoon that had been working it’s way closer to Japan since I arrived was finally catching up to me. Today was also the day to leave Kyoto and head back to Tokyo. That being the case, it left me only a short amount of time to do anything before I had to catch my train out of town. I decided my plan then would be to just head to the Nishiki Market (near where I went the night before) to do some photography and buy some tea from a local shop in the market named Mr. Yamada and Tea (茶やまどしや/cha yamadashiya). I bought tea from them last time I was in Kyoto and it was fantastic!
The morning flew by from the moment I woke up to when I left my room. It was a good thing that I had done some packing the night before as I woke up a little later than originally planned- I stayed up maybe a bit too late editing photos.
So after calling home (via the great Facetime and the portable wifi router I rented), all I had to do to get ready was finish a couple things on the computer, eat my yogurt and check out. And so, with one sad last look from my window at the cropped view of Kyoto Tower, I grabbed my bags and left my room. Ahh, the Hotel Granvia, so comfortable and relaxing.
I ended up cutting it close with check-out time, getting down to the front desk right at noon. I settled the bill, checked my suitcase with the concierge then made my way down to the JR ticket office to get my Shinkansen ticket back to Tokyo.
Along the way to get my ticket, at the bottom of the escalator, I encountered a group of older women in Kimono pulling themselves together after having just come in from the rain. I paused outside the ticket office doors to observe them. They seemed to be having a wonderful day, as they were all smiles and didn’t seem to be the least bit bothered by the heavy rain. I wondered what their day was going to be like, dressed as they were. They looked amazing.
Getting my ticket was quick and I ended up on the Hikari Super Express, train #480, departing at 4:56pm and arriving in Tokyo at 7:40pm. That gave me about fours hours to go and wander, nice. I was now pretty hungry and decided to mark the end of this leg of the trip with a great lunch. The choice was obvious, to go back down to the Porta for one more course of tonkatsu! (Let me indulge in another image of the deliciousness that is tonkatsu.)
And finally, the fabled restaurant exterior itself.
Stuffed full of tonkatsu and rice, I made my way back to street level to grab a taxi. It was raining harder now but I didn’t want to get my umbrella out just yet so I darted across the plaza in front of the station and back under cover as fast as I could, then over to the taxi stand. The line for a taxi was short, 3 people in front of me.
And my wait for the wait for the taxi was not boring at all. There was a large PR event being held in front of the station’s main entrance for the sports drink Vitamin Water. And just next to the taxi stand, under cover, they had set up a red seamless background and created studio to do a photo shoot.They obviously hadn’t planned to do it on a rainy day but hey, why let a little water stop you?
I have no idea who the guys where getting their photo taken. Perhaps the whole set-up was a thing where you could get your picture taken some spokesmodels then get free Vitamin Water? Guess I should’ve stuck around longer to find out what exactly was going on but I really wanted to get to Nishiki Market.
It was 1:10pm when I hopped in my cab. At first I wasn’t sure if I got across correctly where I wanted to go when I said “Nishiki Market”, (it’s one of those things that I never felt confident about, saying where I wanted to go in a cab). Anyhow, I now know how to ask for the market correctly so next time I am there problem solved! I did manage a little conversation with the driver, the usual things like “I’m from America”, “I was an exchange student years ago in Okazaki”, and that I’m in Japan working on a photography project. A very pleasant chat. And as a taxi driver, he was really great. He did everything he seemingly could to get me as close as possible to the entrance of the market to help me avoid the rain. So thoughtful.
So I was now at the west entrance to Nishiki Market. The market is a narrow street that runs east-west for about six blocks starting on the west side at Takakura-dori and ending at Teramachi-dori. On a busy day it can very crowded, but today, perhaps because it was middle of the day or maybe because of the rain, it was pretty empty which I was happy about. The history of the original market goes back several hundred years, beginning as a fish market. It has transformed over time into a market that now sells everything from pickles to meat to dried foods to paper fans and course still fish. Its an amazing place.
And of course the Genmaicha (below) that I came here to buy at Cha-yamadashiya:
So, at the tea shop, I ended up meeting a very nice couple from Singapore. They were in Japan for a short stopover on their way back to Singapore (after a trip to the United States). The husband, a photo enthusiast with a DSLR slung over his shoulder, struck up a conversation with me while their order was being filled. He was actually speaking Japanese when I walked up so I was very surprised when he started talking to me- I figured (incorrectly obviously) that he was Japanese. We talked about where we had each been in Kyoto, I told him about my project and gave him a business card- it was quite nice. I was surprised when he went to pay for his tea and pulled out a large money clip that contained (along with many many 10,000 yen bills) what looked like $1000 plus dollars U.S., all in $100 dollar bills. I guess I am just not that used to seeing that much cash be carried around at one time. They ended up buying a lot of tea.
The market is so interesting to me.
Up next the rest of my walk through Nishiki Market…