Gogyo restaurant serves burnt ramen just off of the Nishiki market in Kyoto. I don’t usually put the word “burnt” in front of food and expect positive results. I was a little skeptical the first time I went, but I thought hey, “I’m sure everyone eats it, I might as well try!” Actually as it turns out, no one eats burnt ramen and all my co-workers gave me dubious looks when I told them about it. So this restaurant is a little experimental, but for good reason because this ramen is amazing!
I liked it so much I’ve gone back every time I’m in Kyoto. The broth is cooked to 300 degrees which gives it an earthy smokey taste. I’ve had both the Soy (Shoyu) and Miso Ramen. The Soy Ramen broth was a little clearer and more salty and the Miso brother more dense and smokey. Both are pretty oily and the portions are big so it’s best to go when you’re really hungry and you have a leisurely evening planned.
The restaurant itself is gorgeous, with dark wooden furniture and a dimly lit atmosphere that feels both elegant and cozy.
Price Range: 900-1200 Yen per bowl
Monday to Friday – Lunch: 11:30-3 | Dinner: 5:00-11:00
Saturday and Sunday – Lunch: 11:30-4 | Dinner: 5:00-11:00
The restaurant has now opened locations in Tokyo and Nagoya! Check out all their information and menus on their website!
Location near the Nishiki Market in Kyoto.
Fushimi Inari Taisha is a bit of an other-worldly experience. It’s a seemingly endless series of massive orange Tori gates, which visitors walk through to travel up the side of the mountain. It is a long and steep climb, and there isn’t really a viewing point at the top. So making this climb is more about the journey and not the destination. Walking through the gates is a sensory overload. You’re surrounded by bright orange (not the most peaceful colour), light moves back and forth between the gates, and you need to focus on walking up the steps. Both times I went turned into evening, adding an extra challenge of limited visibility to the climb.
At many points on the mountain there are stops for worship and you’ll also see a lot of fox imagery throughout, as they are seen as messengers. About half the way up there were groups of wild cats sitting on the side of the path and perching on their claimed resting posts. I’m not sure how they got there, but I like to think they guard over the shrines.
I’ve been to Fushimi Inari twice, and the photos found here are from my first trip in October. Despite the fact that it was the 2nd weekend of the month, the weather was warm enough for shorts. The second time was in December, and while it was much colder (around 4 celsius) it was far from the freezing temperature I’m accustomed to back home. If you aren’t able to make the climb, there’s plenty to see at the base of the mountain, with the main shrine and shops. In October, we were lucky to find the path to the shrine lined with large lanterns.
Sadly no, Arashiyama (嵐山) does not mean “Monkey Mountain”. Rather, it is the joint “Arashi”, meaning “storm” (incidentally also the name of Japan’s biggest Boy Band) and “Yama”, meaning “Mountain”. I had very little knowledge about Arashiyama, but having never been it seemed like the perfect excursion for a Thursday morning.
The town is a mecca of tourist attractions, including the very famous Sagano bamboo forest, Kameyama koen, and last but (definitely) not least, the Iwatayama “Monkey Park”.
The journey is no small feat, as visitors need to climb some extensive steps upwards on the side of a mountain. Throughout the ascent, informative signs are posted to humour and prepare visitors for their encounter with the park’s furry inhabitants.The three rules of the Monkey Park are as follows:
1. Don’t feed the monkeys
2. Don’t touch the monkeys
3. Don’t stare at the monkeys (it makes them feel embarrassed)
Rules number one and two are dismissed when located in the special monkey-feeding building which has large-gapped screens in place of windows. Monkeys calmly hang off the building and reach through the screens, holding their palms in patient (and a somewhat bored) request for food. Clutching my 100 Yen bag of fruit chunks I cautiously placed a piece of apple in an outstretched hand, expecting the monkey to snatch it up. Years of being fed this way have taught the monkeys that they have nothing to fear from camera-wheeling tourists and the monkey practically rolled his eyes at me.
The third rule (don’t stare at the monkeys) was the hardest to keep. I’m not sure how embarrassed they really did feel as they strolled around the mountaintop, occasionally blocking the walking paths as visitors (OK, me) edged around them.
Monkeys aren’t the only reason to come to Monkey Park (although you might expect as such). The height of the park is higher than that of Kyoto tower (131 Metres), offering a sprawling view of the city below. The climb (although potentially challenging) passes through some pretty beautiful scenery.
After the Monkey Park, we spent some time wandering the bodies of water, taking in the bright sky and mountains. Although Kyoto is not chaotic by any means, Arashiyama is most definitely a welcome relief of fresh air and picturesque surroundings.
Alright, my title may be slightly inaccurate, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
During my time in Kyoto I indulged in the delight of dress-up and immersed myself in the (perhaps glorified) image of Kyoto’s Geishas. As part of a small group I headed to the Gion district for an early morning transformation.
We favoured frugality over accuracy and dressed up as “Maiko“, apprentice Geishas who are typically teenagers. Over an hour and a half, we were dressed in makeup, kimonos, and head pieces, a process which is not allowed to be photographed. Although it would certainly be a captivating experience to share, I agree with the opinion that these moments are best kept private, whether to preserve some mystery or simply to immerse yourself completely in the process. Seeing myself in the mirror was shocking, and for the next hour or so I felt anonymous in my disguise.
It’s certainly not an inexpensive experience. Packages range from 6500 yen to 30000 yen, with selection and time limits increasing with price. We did the smallest package: Maiko dress up, which includes a choice from of Kimono, one free photo and an hour taking pictures with your own camera. Although this might make your wallet a little lighter, I can absolutely say this has been one of my most memorable experiences thus far.