Japan – April 2013 – Day 8 (Hiroshima and Kyoto)

Saturday April 20, 2013

On our first visit to Kyoto we only had three days in the city so it was challenging to fit in all the attractions on this trip.  Fushimi Inari shrine is famolus for it’s striking bright redish/orange toriis, over 10,000 spread throughout the grounds.  Fushimi Inari shrine and Kiyomizu-dera are both open early in the morning, so we decided to visit them before our day trip to Hiroshima. For a mere $4,000 you could have your name inscribed on one of the torii gates, the rates increase to $10,000 for the larger gates.  The shrine also makes for a great jogging route.

01 Fushimi Inari-taisha

Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

02 Fushimi Inari-taisha

Messenger fox – Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

03 Fushimi Inari-taisha

Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

04 Fushimi Inari-taisha

Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

16 Fushimi Inari-taisha

Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

06 Fushimi Inari-taisha

Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

05 Fushimi Inari-taisha

Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

07 Fushimi Inari-taisha

Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

08 Fushimi Inari-taisha

Senbon torii – Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

09 Fushimi Inari-taisha

Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

12 Fushimi Inari-taisha BW

Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

14 Fushimi Inari-taisha

Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

15 Fushimi Inari-taisha

Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

Kiyomizu-dera temple is known for it’s panoramic views of the city with visitors taking the obligatory photo of the main hall branching out from the surrounding forest. It almost seems like it’s been there for years.

01 Kiyomizu-dera

Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Koto, Japan

02 Kiyomizu-dera

Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Koto, Japan

03 Kiyomizu-dera

View from Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Koto, Japan

04 Kiyomizu-dera

Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Koto, Japan

06 Kiyomizu-dera

Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Koto, Japan

(Train from Kyoto to Hiroshima, Japan)

Prior to 1945 Hiroshima wasn’t a household name.  At 8:15am on August 6, 1945 all that changed.  The United States made a decision during World War II that would alter the history of Japan, change the definition of war and shatter the city of Hiroshima.  The U.S. became the first nation to use a nuclear weapon on another country.
The atomic bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” was dropped by the Enola Gay, a B-29 bomber, currently on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.
The inital impact of the bomb killed an estimated 80,000 people.   The bomb was detinated some 600 yards above the ground.  The heat generated on impact was estimated to be 3,000 degrees celcius and destroyed 70% of the city.  Sixty perecent of the deaths were burn related and those people typically died within one second of impact.  Thirty percent died from falling debris.  After the inital bomb, radiation and other related illnesses took the deathtoll to over 150,000.
HIroshima and Kyoto were on the final list of targets.  It is rumored that Kyoto was eliminated becuase it was the honeymoon site of Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson.  Five days after the Hiroshima bombing U.S. dropped another atomic bomb on Nagasaki killing another 80,000.  On August 15, 1946 Japan surrendered effectively ending World War II.
Today Hiroshima stands as a worldwide symbol of peace, holding international conferences on the matter and it’s memorials serve as a reminder of a history the world should not repeat.
Our plan was to take a day trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima.  Hiroshima is one and a half hours south of Kyoto on the JR train.  Once in Hiroshima you have access to the streetcar system, which covers most of the big attractions in the city.  For $6 you can get an unlimited day pass.  Just hop on the streecar and you will be at Peace Memorial Park in 15 minutes, stay on for another 30 minutes and get off at the Rakurakuen stop for a quick lunch, then take the streetcar another 15 minutes to the ferry transfer that will take you to the Island of Miyajima and the Itsukushima Shrine.

01 Streetcar

Streetcar – Hiroshima, Japan

(Busy streetcar in Hiroshima, Japan)

03 Hiroshima

Streetcar – Hiroshima, Japan

01 Hiroshima

City rebiult – Hiroshima, Japan

02 Hiroshima

Ota River and A-Bomb Dome in the background – Hiroshima, Japan

The A-Bomb dome is located 500 feet from the hypocenter. Due to the bomb being detonated in the air, in close proximity of the dome, it is largely responsible for the buildings survival. It stands today renamed the Hiroshima peace memorial. A constant reminder to the world, the devastation that was caused by one of history’s darkest days.

01 Genbaku Dome

A-Bomb Dome – Hiroshima, Japan

02 Genbaku Dome

A-Bomb Dome (before the atomic bomb) – Hiroshima, Japan

04 Genbaku Dome

A-Bomb Dome – Hiroshima, Japan

05 Genbaku Dome

A-Bomb Dome – Hiroshima, Japan

06 Genbaku Dome

A-Bomb Dome – Hiroshima, Japan

Across the street, Peace Memorial Park extends to the Memorial Cenotaph that frames the A-Bomb Dome in the background.  Just a few steps away is Peace Memorial Museum.  Our one regret in Hiroshima was not budgeting time to explore these artifacts and the remains surrounding the atomic bombing.  We’re sure it would have been eye-opening and would have given us a better understanding of the lasting devastation it’s had on the people.
01 Peace Memorial Park

Memorial Cenotaph – Hiroshima, Japan

02 Peace Memorial Park

Peace Memorial Park – Hiroshima, Japan

03 Peace Memorial Park

Art promoting peace – Peace Memorial Park – Hiroshima, Japan

04 Peace Memorial Park

Art promoting peace – Peace Memorial Park – Hiroshima, Japan

05 Peace Memorial Park

Art promoting peace – Peace Memorial Park – Hiroshima, Japan

01 Hypocenter

Hypocenter memorial in front of Shima Medical Clinic – Hiroshima, Japan

02 Hypocenter

Sign at Hypocenter – Hiroshima, Japan

03 Hypocenter

Street where the Hypocenter is located – Hiroshima, Japan

Akira eight 八昌 五日市店
Saeki-ku ITSUKAICHI central 1-3-33
Hiroshima, Japan
http://tabelog.com/hiroshima/A3401/A340106/34002563/

Okonomiyaki is a savory pancake with ingredients running the gamet from cabbage, pork, seafood, bean sprouts, okonomi sauce (which is similar to tonkatsu sauce), mayonnaise, dried bonito flakes, green onion, dried seaweed powder, and tempura crumbs.  Two areas speacializing in this dish are Osaka and Hiroshima.  Today we are trying Hiroshima’s version.  The differences between the two vary in the batter, the proportions of each ingredient and the preference for different toppings.  We discovered Akira eight, which is how Google translated the Japanese name, on Tabelog.  It was in the top five and open while we were coming through town.
Earlier in the week we tried takoyaki near Nezu shrine and the dish was terribly disappointing.  Seeing that there were some similarities in appearance and ingredients we were worried heading to the restuarant.  But for some reason the okonomiyaki comes together better than the takoyaki.  Although it was good I think the best parts of the dish was getting to try the Japanese version of mayonnaise, which is a step above what we are use to in the U.S.

01 Akira eight 八昌 - Exterior

Akira eight 八昌 五日市店 – Hiroshima, Japan

02 Akira eight 八昌 - Sign

Sign – Akira eight 八昌 五日市店 – Hiroshima, Japan

03 Akira eight 八昌 - Interior

Dining area – Akira eight 八昌 五日市店 – Hiroshima, Japan

04 Akira eight 八昌 - Grill

Cooking the okonomiyaki – Akira eight 八昌 五日市店 – Hiroshima, Japan

(Preparing Okonomiyaki at Akira eight 八昌 Grill in Hiroshima, Japan)

05 Akira eight 八昌

Preparing the pancake – Akira eight 八昌 五日市店 – Hiroshima, Japan

06 Akira eight 八昌

Adding the toppings – Akira eight 八昌 五日市店 – Hiroshima, Japan

07 Akira eight 八昌 - Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki Served – Akira eight 八昌 五日市店 – Hiroshima, Japan

08 Akira eight 八昌 - Okonomiyaki ith Sauce

Okonomiyaki with sauce – 5/10 – Akira eight 八昌 五日市店 – Hiroshima, Japan

(Ferry to Miyajima, Japan to see Itsukushima Shinto Shrine)

01 Itsukushima Shinto Shrine

Itsukushima Shinto Shrine, Miyajima, Japan

02 Itsukushima Shinto Shrine

Itsukushima Shinto Shrine, Miyajima, Japan

11 Itsukushima Shinto Shrine BW

Itsukushima Shinto Shrine, Miyajima, Japan

12 Itsukushima Shinto Shrine

Itsukushima Shinto Shrine, Miyajima, Japan

13 Itsukushima Shinto Shrine

Miyajima Island Ferry – Itsukushima Shinto Shrine, Miyajima, Japan

Now we took the train back to Kyoto, which gave us a chance to relax and try some Japan’s great snacks:

Snacks 01

(left to right, from top: gummy melon sours, bento box, salmon paste onigiri, red bean cake, Tokyo Banana Tree’s Chocolate Banana Cream, Jen milking the vendors for free samples)

Snacks 02

(cherry blossom soft serve, grape gummy candy, nuts, mango hard candy, candied octopus, Juicer Bar’s excellent lime and raspberry juices at Hiroshima station)

Kitcho Arashiyama Honten
58 Susukinobabacho, Sagatenryuji, Ukyo-ku
Kyoto, Japan
http://www.kitcho.com/kyoto/shoplist_en/arashiyama/index.html
http://tabelog.com/kyoto/A2604/A260403/26001312/

Time for our second and final Kaiseki meal in Kyoto.  Next to Mizai, which was booked six months out, Kitcho Arashiyama Honten was our first choice.  A Life Worth Eating said it was his best meal in 2012.  Chef Kunio Tokuoka, grandson of the founder, has maintained his 3 Michelin stars since 2010.  Andy Hayler gave it a 9/10 after his visit.  It’s located on the outskirts of Kyoto in Arashiyama.  The location is literally in the same spot the taxi dropped us off for our short walk to Shoraian.  There is little drizzle on out way to the restaurant.  Before we could make our way inside, an usher at the front door had a Japanese style umbrella ready at the door to ensure that not a drop lands on Jen.  It’s like a romatic scene out of Casablanca, or as it’s known in Japan Le Shiro. The grounds are beautiful as was our dinning room.  Art adorned the walls and there was a tranquil view of the garden slowly disappearing into the night.
The meal starts off better than we expect.  We ordered a plum wine, light and fruity, it was something we wouldn’t normally get at home.  We were then presented with a glass of warm water with cherry blossoms from last year’s season.   Here we could appreciate the significance of the ceramony, preserving the delicate flower from last year’s season.  Food wise the first two dishes noticably better than Nakamura.  The meal transitioned with some highlights, but all the dishes were above par.  The best dishes of the night were the sashimi course of fatty tuna and squid, the assortment of seasonal dishes, the grilled bamboo shoot with bonito flakes, once again the Japanese beef was a standout.  This time we were servied local Kyoto style beef.  As expected the seasonal fruit was perfectly ripe and the sweet custard was addictive.
Kitcho delievered and was definitely better than Nakamura, but I’m not sure I have a great amount of respect for the Kaiseki meal.  In my world, the food  taste is number one and everything else, the ambiance, historical significance and difficulty in the preperation comes second.

01 Kitcho Arashiyama Honten - Our Room

Dining room – Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Kyoto, Japan

02 Kitcho Arashiyama Honten - Our Room

Room decor – Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Kyoto, Japan

03 Kitcho Arashiyama Honten - Our Room

Room decor – Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Kyoto, Japan

04 Kitcho Arashiyama Honten - Lamp

Room decor – Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Kyoto, Japan

05 Kitcho Arashiyama Honten - Lobster with a vinaigrette, seaweed broccoli and radish topped with ginger and lotus root. Japanese vegetables

Japanese lobster with a vinaigrette with seaweed broccoli and radish. Topped with ginger and lotus root. Japanese vegetables with a sesame sauce – 6/10 – Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Kyoto, Japan

06 Kitcho Arashiyama Honten - Lobster with a vinaigrette, seaweed broccoli and radish topped with ginger and lotus root

Japanese lobster with a vinaigrette with seaweed broccoli and radish. Topped with ginger and lotus root – Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Kyoto, Japan

07 Kitcho Arashiyama Honten - Consomme with steamed cod fish topped with sea cucumber roe

Clear soup with steamed codfish topped with sea cucumber roe – 6/10 – Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Kyoto, Japan

08 Kitcho Arashiyama Honten - Consomme with steamed cod fish topped with sea cucumber roe

Clear soup with steamed codfish topped with sea cucumber roe – Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Kyoto, Japan

09 Kitcho Arashiyama Honten - Tile fish sashimi with soy sauce and a sauce made with liver and soy sauce

Tile fish, two sauces – one with soy sauce and another with liver of the tile fish and soy sauce – 5/10 – Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Kyoto, Japan

10 Kitcho Arashiyama Honten - Tilefish Sashimi

Tile fish – Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Kyoto, Japan

11 Kitcho Arashiyama Honten - Sake

Sake – 4/10 – Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Kyoto, Japan

27 Kitcho Arashiyama Honten - Plum Wine

Plum wine – 8/10 – Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Kyoto, Japan

13 Kitcho Arashiyama Honten - Fatty Tuna lightly grilled with garlic and lighter soy sauce. Squid with ginger and the dark soy sauce and sesamee seeds

Fatty Tuna lightly grilled accompanied with garlic and lighter soy sauce. Squid accompanied with ginger, darker soy sauce and sesame seeds – 8/10 – Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Kyoto, Japan

15 Kitcho Arashiyama Honten - steamed Savory egg custard topped with ginger and leek. Small Oyster and squid inside

A steamed savory egg custard topped with ginger and leek with a small oyster and squid inside 6/10 – Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Kyoto, Japan

16 Kitcho Arashiyama Honten - Assortment of Seasonal Dishes

Assortment of seasonal dishes presented for two – Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Kyoto, Japan

(Jen endlessly texting her sisters at Kitcho Arashiyama Honten in Kyoto, Japan)

17 Kitcho Arashiyama Honten

Assortment of seasonal dishes – pickled abalone with vinaigrette sauce, tofu with vegetables and pine nuts, grass with chicken and vegetables in a miso paste, shrimp with miso paste, Japanese Fukui (vegetable) with a plum sauce inside, jelley of cod fish, grilled squid covered in an egg sauce, and white radish – 8/10 – Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Kyoto, Japan

19 Kitcho Arashiyama Honten - Grilled sweet fish with a wild vegetable sauce

Grilled sweet fish (Aui) with a wild vegetable sauce – 6/10 – Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Kyoto, Japan

20 Kitcho Arashiyama Honten

Dish holding sweet fish – Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Kyoto, Japan

21 Kitcho Arashiyama Honten - Fried Shrimp Head with daikon

Deep fried head of shrimp with daikon – 7/10 – Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Kyoto, Japan

22 Kitcho Arashiyama Honten - Grilled bamboo shoot with kelp

Grilled bamboo shoot – 8/10 – Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Kyoto, Japan

23 Kitcho Arashiyama Honten - Grilled bamboo shoot with kelp and bonito flakes

Grilled bamboo shoot with bonito flakes – Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Kyoto, Japan

25 Kitcho Arashiyama Honten - Rice with Kyoto Beef

Rice with seasoned mountain vegetable and kyoto beef – 10/10 – Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Kyoto, Japan

26 Kitcho Arashiyama Honten - Pickled vegetable - seaweed, eggplant, shisho leaf and cucumber

Pickled vegetables – seaweed, eggplant, shisho leaf and cucumber – Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Kyoto, Japan

30 Kitcho Arashiyama Honten - Musk Mellon, strawberry, mango and grapefruit that was jellied with a sweet custard sauce

Fruit – musk Mellon, strawberry, mango and grapefruit – 9/10 – Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Kyoto, Japan

31 Kitcho Arashiyama Honten - Sweet Custard Sauce for Fruit

Sweet custard sauce – Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Kyoto, Japan

33 Kitcho Arashiyama Honten - Tea

Low seed green tea – Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Kyoto, Japan

32 Kitcho Arashiyama Honten - Matcha Tea

Matcha green tea – Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, Kyoto, Japan

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