In Japan convenience stores are life. Around every corner, you’ll find a Seven Eleven or a Lawson’s. Here you can do everything from grocery shopping and paying bills to buying tickets for buses or even a baseball game. They also have the most amazing selection of ready made food. I’m not talking about a Tesco meal deal here – you can get a proper cooked meal. My personal favourite are the onigiris. These are triangular, filled rice balls wrapped in seaweed.
Delicious! I’ve lost count of the number I’ve had had. They’re good for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
A word of warning though: beware of the pickled plum filled onigiri. The day we explored Kyoto, I mistook this for a tuna onigiri. The pickled plum was not a welcome surprise to bite into.
Following the near-traumatic experience of the pickled plum, we got the subway to visit Nijo Castle. Nijo Castle was home to the Tokugawa shoguns who ruled Japan for over 260 years. To this day it remains a symbol of their great power during this period. It is now a UNESCO world heritage site.
The Ninomaru Palace (pictured below) was the residence and office of the Shogun during his visits to Kyoto. The palace is very famous for its “nightingale floors”. As you walk across the floorboards, they squeak in a way that sounds like birdsong. The chirping is achieved by wedges underneath the floorboards rubbing against nails as the floor is stepped on. The nightingale floor was a useful mechanism for alerting the guards of any intruders. The likeness between the sound of the squeaky floorboards and birdsong was incredible.
The Ninomaru gardens (the grounds around the palace) were beautiful to walk through, especially as we were treated to a lovely, warm day.
There was a contemporary art exhibition on which displayed various pieces of art throughout the gardens.
There were also some strange poo-like models with footprints in them. I’m unsure whether these were part of the exhibition but I can’t imagine why else they would be there…
After exploring Nijo Castle, we headed to the centre of Kyoto to get some lunch. We went for something I’ve been very excited for: sushi! We got a random selection at a conveyor belt sushi place.
The selection was fascinating. Some of my favourites were the tuna nigiri and the salmon-onion nigiri. The real showstopper was definitely the shrimp tempura roll though.
After an afternoon of rest and relaxation in the hotel, we headed out to get some dinner from the food court in Kyoto Tower. This is a great spot for cheap, quick and tasty food! We went for a Japanese fried chicken place.
We ordered a selection of breast and thigh meat with some consomme fries on the side. The chicken was coated in a light but crispy tempura-like batter. The fries were cooked in chicken stock taking the meal to a whole new and enjoyable chicken-y level.
Just look at that delicious crispiness!
Is anyone else getting the feeling that food is my favourite thing about Japan?