Today was a day where we didn't get lost...as much. In part, we benefited from a hotel mixup where we didn't have to change hotels and could stay another day in the ryokan. Because we have gotten quite lost in this neighborhood, it is easier to stay on track. It can be tiring staying focused and the names on streets or subway stations as we shared can be similar - Gojo, Kujo, Nijo...
But today we walked down to the market, got coffee and picked up a few things. Shauna is collecting plastic bags because we can't get any at home.
We had our cooking class today where we got an overview on Japanese cuisine by first walking through the basement of Daimaru department store which had a big food mart like at the bottom of Fortnum and Mason or Shirokia. We could sample items like kelp, octopus, and daikon. We tried everything but did not go back for seconds. The Japanese would pickle items to preserve them using things like sake sediment, soy sauce, miso, and maybe rice bran.
Then we went through the Nishiki market which made Tokyo subway station seem tame. Block after block there were dozens of stalls with merchants selling fish, produce and wares... Oh my! It was better having someone explain what was in the market, including a stall that has these brown items covered in what I thought was peanut butter... No silly, that is sake sediment.
Speaking of sake, we then walked and walked and walked to a 150+year sake brewing company. We got an overview on how sake is made - good water from underground Kyoto, long grain rice that is polished down to get to the inner kernel (the deeper the polish, the more refined the sake), a fermenting agent and sometimes (often times other alcohol). We got to taste several kinds of sake - all cold. While we learned cold was higher quality sake, we both really enjoyed warm sake. Ah well...
We then walked over to the offices of this Women of Kyoto organization that ran the tour and where we would have the class. The building was long and narrow, under a certain width you avoided property taxes... We learned how to make miso soup (look out Emma) using miso, kelp and dashi (dried fish flakes). Then we made a spinach dish with fresh ground sesame dressing. And we made sushi with seaweed, rice, cucumber, egg, s***ake mushroom and wait for it.... fish cake! After we cooked, we ate what we made and were treated to delicious green tea ice cream for dessert (we both think that was the best part of our meal).
Tomorrow, we go to Koya-san and will be out of touch til we get back to Kyoto Monday night. TTFN