After our short respite, we walked down the hill to a restaurant that had been suggested by the couple we met at the previous night’s dinner. Chicken yakitori is one of my favorite Japanese dishes so I was really looking forward to trying the real deal.
The restaurant was a small, very funky little spot with the usual counter layout as well as a few low tables. The smell of charcoal grilled meat filled the air, making me a happy camper. I noticed the menu had a few cuts of chicken I had never had – skewered or otherwise. Curious, I opted for both the traditional thigh with leeks, broiled chicken skin along with the not to traditional, neck and hip pieces. All were superb. So good in fact that I failed in my food porn duties of capturing a single shot. Sorry about that!
Filled with meat formerly on sticks, we decided to go check out Maruyama Park, which was supposed to be hosting a large hanamii – basically a party underneath the cherry trees when they blossom. The park was quite beautiful, with many of the trees lit up along the main path. It looked though as things were winding down as many people were getting ready to leave. Bummed we had missed it, we kept walking up the trail and soon realized it was far from over.
Up at the top of the path was a full festival setup, complete with food stands – meats on stick natch, pop-up bars and carnival games. There were hundreds of people in various states of sobriety, clearly enjoying the hanami. Still, we got the sense that we had probably missed the apex and decided to go back another night a bit earlier.
We left the park and walked into Gion, which is the entertainment district of Kyoto. It is also one of the older parts of the city and is basically untouched from days of yore. We wandered down several alleys, which were stacked with mysterious looking bars that were clearly not for gaijin. Behind them were probably the fabled geishas but the only ones visible to us were tourists playing dress up.
Knowing we had an action-packed day planned for tomorrow, we opted to go home and check out Gion in more detail later.