Almost from the moment we set foot in Kyoto, my foodie husband is scouting for new restaurants in our neighborhood that have opened in our absence. As hyped as I am to be sure to see the most intriguing gardens, sublime temples, cool museums and Japanese design shops, he’s on the edge of his seat to reconnect with the wonders and satisfaction of eating Japanese cuisine. He’s always on alert for the next culinary attraction. It could be a new sake bar, french bakery, izakaya, ramen, soba, steak place or hamburger spot. As long as it looks promising, my husband is eager to try it. We have our food work cut out for us, and I’ve learned not to resist. I simply try them all and go along for the great ride he pulls together and congratulate him on his finds.
If the place looks complicated, he likes to see if they have an English menu available. Given one, he’ll then bemoan the fact that not all of the items available in the restaurant are represented on the English menu. I remind him that there’s no way he could eat all the items even if they were listed, but he always want to see what he might be missing. I’m always eager to follow along with his trailblazing food-related energy. By myself, I’d never put in the effort he does.
Restaurants in Japan tend to be smaller than Americans are used to. Reservations are a must, so the chef knows how much food to buy each day. Once you understand their system, you respect it. If you rely on a last minute casual walk up, you’re going to be out of luck for most serious restaurants in Japan. And it’s remarkable how many restaurants are SERIOUS! By serious, I mean chefs and underlings studying and honing their specific skills for years, always delivering to the best of their ability, constantly striving for perfection.
Tourists tend to strive to score a rez at a Michelin starred venue, but there’s really no need if it’s just a fine restaurant you want and not another notch in your belt. Continue reading “The Foodie’s Heaven”→
In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. ~Albert Schweitzer
There are so many kinds of friends we make in a lifetime. Many come and go for many reasons. A special few remain with us for a lifetime.
We have made a most wonderful friend here in Kyoto. Matsuzaki Katsuyoshi is a splendid artist; a sculptor who transforms inanimate stone into spiritual omamori, in this case, he carves small deities whose gentleness, and kindness provides protection for its owner. I have come to think his sculptures radiate his own spirit of kindness. I have several at the entrance to my home who greet me daily as I enter and leave. Now I have one to watch over our apartment in Kyoto.
What better time or place to throw a party than in the spring at our apartment in Kyoto? We had friends CA friends visiting Kyoto for a few days, my more-than-able-son-in-law visiting and several Kyoto friends we were eager to see again. At the suggestion of a friend, we easily decided on a party. We even have a ceramic party dog whose always ready for the next shindig.
My husband and I have a pretty good division of labor for this kind of event. Basically, he prepares the food, and I prepare the decor. We’ve worked this arrangement out over 50 years of marriage and it’s still working, although the days when everything my husband cooked was made from scratch have shifted slightly towards the ready-made as long as the quality meets his high standards! Kyoto makes this sort of entertaining easy and fun.
For several days before we host a party, we both discuss the food plan and arrive at a mutual agreement on where we’re headed. Finger food? Drinks? etc. On the day of, or one day before, we begin to really concentrate and gather our non perishables. Here in Kyoto, the land of small dishes, we needed small plates. After a brief search in department stores, we located the perfect ones to serve a crowd at the local 100Y store. We’d gotten some wonderful serving platters and dishes of Shigaraki ceramics when we initially moved in a few years ago. We ended using every dish we had. Dollar store plates mingles easily with the plates of a contemporary Japanese ceramicist.
I felt like Goldilocks today. Everything was just right. Not too cold, not too hot, not too early, not too late. I’m talking sakura (cherry blossoms)! This year, our timing is good and it was a day for smiles, not only ours, but, it seemed for everyone else on this side of the world too.
The morning dawned bright and sunny as we followed a friend’s lead to see the weeping cherries in bloom in the palace garden. My anticipation levels have been off the charts for a few days now and soon after we entered the grounds of the palace, we spotted the blooms and followed the crowds to gaze at the trees and take photos to remember the moment.
I hope these photos convey the beauty that awaited us. It is reassuring in these troubled times to see that people of the world take the time to come together to admire and wonder at the spectacular blessings of nature.
This couple and their entourage told us they’d traveled from Taiwan to have a wedding picture taken here. The woman in the yellow cap was proud to let us know she was the mother of the groom.
Nature’s lace, weeping cherry branches.
I wondered how many sakura seasons this gentleman has photographed? Love that he’s still at it.
Probably my favorite moment, watching these two life partners, with identical body language.