Day 11: Kyoto

Wednesday, 16 July 2014  

This morning we woke to enjoy another in-room Kaiseki breakfast at Shirasagiyu Tawaraya Ryokan near Kaga-Onsen.

 The plan today was to head down to Kyoto for an Uzuki Cooking Class and then a night visit to the night stalls of the Gion Matsuri- one of Japan's most famous festivals!

This time though we knew to open the door to indicate that we were ready for our meal. It was delicious and really filling!

After breakfast we quickly checked out and drove down to the Kaga-Onsen to drop off the car. We were in a bit of a rush to both drop the car off and get the earliest train down to Kyoto.

Upon arriving in Kyoto after around a two hour train journey we made our way to our hotel- Daiwa Roynet Hotel Hachijouguchi. 

We've stayed here before and find that the location, newness, and price are at a very agreeable conjunction. We were too early to check in at that stage so we just dropped our luggage off for the day.

Our cooking class wasn't scheduled for a few hours yet so we decided to have a look around at some of the shops for a bit first. 

We spent a fair amount of time in Tokyuu Hands and also found lots of smaller market style stores behind some streets where Kate hunted for peanut crackers.

The streets were really busy and crowed due to the festival, and we could see some road disruptions happening too.

Due to this we wanted to make sure we left plenty of time to get to the Kyoto University of Art and Design, which is located in the north eastern part of the city- about 40mins by bus.

We caught a bus that was scheduled to arrive about 30 minutes early, but due to the traffic only arrived about ten minutes early. 

We used that time to buy some water from a nearby convenience store and then waited where we had been instructed to on the University Steps.

Right on time Emi Hirayama (the host of the Uzuki Cooking Cass) approached us, and said we were waiting for a couple more people. 

We waited about ten more minutes but with no appearance on their part we walked to Hirayama's house located one or two kilometres away.

Emi spoke good English and the class was conducted in English. I spoke a little Japanese to her but mainly used English.

While we walked she asked us how we were finding the weather as it was very hot and humid in Kyoto. We said that although it wasn't quite as hot as Brisbane's summers it was more humid and the overall effect felt pretty similar. I.e. terribly hot and uncomfortable.

Emi Hirayama- our teacher!
When we arrived at Hirayama's house we were very relieved to find that she had air conditioning.

Just when we started getting ready to cook the phone rang- it was the other people who didn't show up. 

It turned out they had underestimated the crowds and showed up about twenty minutes late. We were left home along while Emi rushed off to go and collect them.

We immediately started going through the cupboa-. Just kidding, we waited patiently at the table and enjoyed the air conditioning.

After a bit of an interval Emi returned and we got to cooking!

Well, technically we had to first prepare the ingredients, such as slicing up cucumber and making sauces. 

One of these, Dashi, was made up of bonito flakes and we made it from scratch- though we learnt that it's possible to just buy it premade if we wanted.

Some of the tasks were done by our teacher such as actually putting the eggplant and fish on to grill. We did however get the chance to fry some sesame seeds.

Along with being shown made a wide variety of things from scratch we were also told lots of information about the ingredients including how and why they are used.

Also, when we booked I indicated that I could not eat onions so it was great to not have to worry about that.

Some of the food I remember was the aforementioned yummy fish as well as some delicious beef slices. The rice was also really good and had edamame beans in it!

Yep, I'm skipping a head to the best part, once we were finished cooking it was time to eat!

I really enjoyed all the food we made and to finish it off we enjoyed a small amount of sweet Ume-Shu (Plum Wine).

We really enjoyed the cooking and eating experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Kyoto! Make sure you are not late though!

Once we finished we walked back to the bus stop and caught one back towards the centre of town as the night stalls of the festival had started!

We were a bit unsure where exactly we should get off as the closed streets had completely changed the bus route.

We managed to pick a pretty good spot where we could see lots of people heading towards the festival.

As we neared, the closed streets swelled with people such that there was one huge mass of humanity all headed in one direction- we just followed along.

Although we hadn't reached the main area yet there was still quite a few stalls setup by businesses on the side of footpath selling festival food.

A bit further along we passed a big float!

The main area where all the stalls were was unbelievably crowded!

There seemed to be endless stalls selling all kinds of festival food such as: Grilled Squid, Candied fruit (apple, strawberries, etc.), Cucumbers, choco banana, corn, Takoyaki, shaved ice etc. 

Each stall specialised, and prices were a little steep!

Kate bought a toffee apple and some Takoyaki while I got shaved ice and a chocolate banana. I also got an alcoholic beverage, though it was some sort of undelicious canned fruity mixer thing.

After looking around and eating for a few hours we decided to call it a night and caught a subway back to Kyoto station and then walked to our hotel.

After looking around and eating for a few hours we decided to call it a night and caught a subway back Kyoto Station and walked to our hotel.

Tomorrow we'll stay for the float precession part of the festival and then move on to Takamatsu!


  1. Cooking classes sounds like a great idea.

    1. Yes! We've done quite a few in Japan now and they've all been really great!

      Highly recommended!