After our walk around Osaka Castle, it was time for lunch. Someone had suggested a spot on the main drag where we had come from so we headed that way. Alas, when we got to what we assumed was the restaurant it was closed. I wanted to try something besides ramen but most other places were also shuttered. After about 20 minutes of aimless wandering, I was ready to try the first place we saw that was open. Off one of the alleys, I saw a small teppanyaki that looked nice if a bit challenging to enter.
The restaurant was about the size of our Osaka hotel room, which itself wasn’t exactly large. There was seating for 6 people and the chef bowed to us as we sat down. The specials for the day were pork and ginger, or chicken. I opted for the pork and Chris got the chicken. The chef took out a carefully measured amount of sliced pork and chicken along with some vegetables. A few minutes later we had our lunch – delicious.
We looped back to the hotel to get our bags and took a cab to Osaka Station. One of the more annoying things about my flight mishaps was that I missed my decompression day so I wasn’t thrilled about traveling again so soon. Fortunately, via shinkassen, Kyoto was only 15 minutes away from Osaka Station. So, about 30 minutes later, we were already in another taxi en route to our place in Kyoto.
Once we got into Kyoto proper, it was readily apparent how different it was than Osaka. The gleaming skyscrapers of Osaka were replaced with tranquil old homes along a riverbank and cobblestone streets. We were staying in a traditional Japanese townhouse known as a machiya, with some modern touches. I had found it on Airbnb, where it had excellent reviews. It would be nice to get out of a hotel setting, especially in such an old city as Kyoto.
Our host had wisely given us directions to the machiya in Japanese as the location was a bit tricky to find. The exact address wasn’t readily clear but a very nice neighbor decided to help us find it. After about 15 minutes of false starts, I recognized a banner in front and knew we had found it. Following instructions to remove our shoes, we went up to the small steps into the living room. There was a futon couch in front of a flatscreen TV and a small dining room/kitchen – very nice and homey. Around the corner was a steep staircase which led up to the bedrooms. The low height combined with my heavy suitcase proved to be quite a challenge to navigate. The master bedroom had a low double bed and there was a pull out bed in the adjoining room.
It was then that I realized a particular quirk of the home – the bathroom and the shower were on the completely opposite end. Not only that but it was also in an area with no heat whatsoever. Thankfully, the water for the shower (no curtain of course) was hot so at the very least I wouldn’t freeze to death trying to take a shower.
After getting situated, we decided to explore our new ‘hood a bit. We were right next door to one of the shinto shrines so Chris walked up to the top (I was still not quite up to that yet) to snap some photos.
We saw that we were fairly close to the Heian Shrine so we made the short walk to the grounds, passing by several museums and historical centers. The street was filled with tourists taking pictures, including some in traditional Japanese garb which helped with the illusion of stepping back in time.
The light wasn’t that great for pictures and it was getting colder so we ventured back to our machiya for some rest.