Pictures still in issue-mode. Sorry! For now the text is all in-line.
Wow was today packed. As in, we hit up 3 temples, a small art museum, a tezukuri (handcraft market), a bunch of walking around downtown and a funky Mexican joint called Avocado. Sounds wild, right? Well it was. It all started on the Eizan line, headed for Rurikoin. The line itself was a joy because they decked the luggage racks with strands of tinsel (fa la la la la . . .), where they also had ornaments hanging. There was a wreath above the destination board and the station we got off at even had a fancy Christmas tree with a shooting star light display. I don’t care how solely consumerist it is, I’m loving how they do Christmas over here.
We got off and walked over to Rurikoin, aka a hella expensive temple that’s exclusively open for maybe 30 days (tops) in autumn for kouyou. I saw it advertised on some Japan facebook page with beautiful pink/purple leaves – due to spectacular lighting – and decided I wanted to go. Okaa-san was simply nice enough to join me in my post-season leafy goose chase. While we definitely missed the peak, it was still lovely and the gardens alone were beautiful. My one sadness was the lack of hand-drawn goshuin, but I suppose that if this is a seasonal event that’s logical. They did have free printed pages though, so I took one to stick in my book. It’s a temple I’d like to return to in a few years at the peak of its glory. It’s name means shiny light, referring to how the sun hits the leaves and makes them glow ethereally – I’ll believe the copious photos I’ve seen from other people. If you’re willing to shell out and time it right, go for it.
There was a small museum featuring a French artist from the WWII period, Monsieur XX. His work focused on painting women, with a handful of them featuring animals as well. They were all very lovely, and I actually looked him up online afterwards because I was interested enough. They made me think of Lin. Very small but nice, and they even had free coffee you could drink in a room looking out at a garden. Too bad I don’t drink coffee.
We returned to Demachiyanagi after this, on a remarkably less exciting car, to check out a rare tezukuri at Shimogamo Jinja. This was much more lively than the last one I saw here, featuring craft and food stalls all along the path. I ended up with 3 lovely stirring sticks and a handmade incense jar-like piece I intend to use for spices. Very nihon-poi. We also both had mango milk tea, as well as crèpes – matcha banana for okaa-san and banana kinako for moi. They were also loaded with whipped cream and pretty delicious. I swear, the Japan crèpe game is on-point no matter where you go. Some other notable things at the market include: a cat lamp, cat shaped bread treats, an oni hoodie and a small chicken dress.
After this we both needed a break, and we made it home forest for a bit. Which we did until about 5, when we left to see the temple illuminations. It’s this great event that stretches from early November to early December (until 12/4 this year), in which the temples open at night and are strategically and beautifully lit up. It’s timed to catch the loveliness of kouyou, which, like with Rurikoin, we caught the end of. At 5:30 we arrived at Kodai-ji, where we waited in line for about a half hour to buy a ticket in to this place and Entoku-in. Both were gorgeously lit up, with a light show at Kodai-ji, it’s magical bamboo path and some cool bridges/smaller inner temples. Entoku-ji boasted green lights and a nifty mini-collection on wedding clothes. Both were fun to visit and I’m glad we went.
After the light show we walked over to Gion, where it was a bustling mess of humans. Saturday nights, what can you do? Okaa-san pointed out a great-looking okonomiyaki place that’s super-duper different form how otou-san makes it, one of her favorite dango shops and a statue of a dog pulling some kids pants down, Coppertone baby-style. After fighting our way through more crowds for probably a half hour total, we made it to the true win of the night: Avocado Mexican Dining restaurant, aka bangin’ Mexican food. It’s been hitting me lately that I miss Mexican food, but this place was a beautiful gift to my stomach and heart.
What was on the menu? First and foremost tacos, which is what Japanese people seem to have as a sole association with Mexican food. I mean, they’re not wrong, but they are missing out on burritos, quesadillas, fajitas and wayyy more. We ended up ordering a bunch of plates and splitting them. As for drinks, I had a tequila sunrise that was really good while okaa-san tried an ‘avocado lassi’ (based off the Indian mango lassi) that I was pleased with. Ok, food time:
- guacamole and chips
- spicy nachos
- avocado salad
- shrimp & avocado tacos
- diced potatoes with a guac-topped Mexican-style pork steak
- cactus ice cream
- coffee-tequila affogato
Notable things within this list? Okaa-san’s first time trying guac from a place that know what it is better than me explaining my simple recipe: beautiful reaction and maybe her new love. An avocado volcano: they expertly sliced the top and bottom off but put them back in place, then hollowed out the inside to fill it was limed and salted avocado cubes. Jalapeños in this spice-less country: praise. Guac on meat? Yes please and forevermore. It was all soooo good. We ended up heading home at freaking 10 pm and it was a beautiful day and night all around. What a Saturday!