Kyoto in autumn

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Bok
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Location: Taiwan

Thu Nov 21, 2019 7:28 pm

Kyoto in autumn. Do I need to say more? The play of the coloured leaf would put most other places to shame in their vibrance! I headed to the country side taking a boat trip on a famous river gorge, where one could see it in all its glory unhindered by buildings – as beautiful as they sometimes can be in Kyoto.

The other thing I had not noticed on previous visits is that there are tea bushes growing virtually everywhere in the city. Almost all the temples and shrines had at least one, on the streets, in the gardens and private dwellings, everywhere! And curiously blooming in many cases.

Also the first time I had a weather alert for extremely dry conditions on my app!

The city itself is deservedly beautiful as its reputation suggests, just walking around is inspirational. The wood details everywhere are magnificent.

As for our shared interest, tea… oh well. It is expensive, very expensive and if I compare the value in taste to the price it is too expensive in most cases. Hojicha that just tastes like mediocre roasted Taiwan oolong costs triple or more. To be fair I did not have time to dive into specialty tea shops, so just generalising on what is commonly available. Actually nothing is really a good deal, be it food or tea ware or anything. At best it is not expensive. More moderately priced tea ware is made in China, even to my eyes quite common looking cups cost an arm and a leg! Guess it has to do with high cost of living and salary in Japan.

Maybe it is Kyoto. I remember finding nice things at ok- price in Tokyo.
Seems to me that better deal are to be had, buying tea ware online? Like prices of AN for nice tea ware seemed lower to me than what I saw on the streets for less nice pieces.

Also, it was the first time I had some experiences where places purposely turned away foreigners with flimsy pretexts, which I can be sure of, as my wife speaks Japanese… Seems a few are fed up of all the tourism in the city. Some nice areas with old houses are basically all tiny inns and hotels. Locals moving to the suburbs and making a killing on rent. Venetians can probably tell a tale or two of that.

Food is great, if one avoids the big traps in crowded places.
All in all, Japan is always great, especially with this perfect autumn weather we had, sun and just cool enough to comfortably walk for hours.

More musings when I think of them…
Flavor Hedonist
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Location: Philippines

Fri Nov 22, 2019 12:53 am

I was in Osaka and Kyoto last week. I agree with how expensive the city is (food and tea-wise). Although, I enjoyed going to Ippodo and drinking some sencha and gyokuro first thing in the morning. My wife, who likes umami profiles very much, pretty much enjoyed drinking tea in Japan.
The other thing I had not noticed on previous visits is that there are tea bushes growing virtually everywhere in the city. Almost all the temples and shrines had at least one, on the streets, in the gardens and private dwellings, everywhere! And curiously blooming in many cases.
I did notice a lot of tea bushes scattered around especially around temples and shrines. I was a bit like a kid in a field trip pointing out to my wife the nth tea bush that I saw. Dunno if I pissed her off with that lol.
Seems to me that better deal are to be had, buying tea ware online? Like prices of AN for nice tea ware seemed lower to me than what I saw on the streets for less nice pieces.
This is true. Prices are expensive. I saw some nice Tenmoku cups but I'm not willing to dish out 12,000 JPY for a 40-50 ml cup. I would rather spend 50 USD for Crimson Lotus' silver cup than that. I saw some nice Kyo-yaki teapots in the Higashiyama district near Yasaka Pagoda. It kinda looked like Hokujo's pots and was about 6,000 JPY. I was thinking of buying it but my wife was giving me the stink eye.

I hear there is a ceramic street in the Kiyomizudera area but I never found time to go there.
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Bok
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Fri Nov 22, 2019 2:37 am

@Flavor Hedonist I went to the ceramic street on my first visit, but it was just more of what you find elsewhere, just stacked upon each other.

How did you like Osaka? For me it was a city to avoid, the equivalent of Kaohsiung in Taiwan: ugly, nothing of interest, vast and full of people... and still very expensive. I do regret having wasted time there instead of staying longer in Kyoto.

Funny you say that with the tea bush mentioning... I got my fair share of oblique looks from my better half as well :)
Flavor Hedonist
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Fri Nov 22, 2019 5:45 am

I went to the ceramic street on my first visit, but it was just more of what you find elsewhere, just stacked upon each other.
Prices are the same?
How did you like Osaka? For me it was a city to avoid, the equivalent of Kaohsiung in Taiwan: ugly, nothing of interest, vast and full of people... and still very expensive. I do regret having wasted time there instead of staying longer in Kyoto.
I liked it for the street food. But, the restaurant food is also expensive. I agree with the ugly part. Parts of it transform into a red light district at night. Younger me would have enjoyed Osaka. But, a married man like myself won't.

I went to a tea shop in Kuromon market called Yamaguchien and bought a cheap Tokoname teapot. I liked it but it's nothing to write home about. The owners were really nice though. Made me some tea after I bought the pot.

I went to a tea shop called Uji-En in the Chuo Ward and it was good. Ippodo was better but it was still good.
Funny you say that with the tea bush mentioning... I got my fair share of oblique looks from my better half as well :)
Well, it's not our fault that we enjoy seeing a live tea bush. :D
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rdl
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Fri Nov 22, 2019 11:58 am

A mention of Osaka first, if you are interested in architecture, both historic and contemporary.
Tadao Ando's studio is located in Osaka as well as a few great works of his, and several other architects.
http://voyapon.com/tadao-ando-osaka/
Japanese modern and contemporary architecture is part of Osaka's attraction.
I have never noticed a real price difference in Japan. Fukuoka prices seem the same as Tokyo or Osaka, when looking at tea wear. However I know that the prices go up from the potter's studio in Hagi, to the shops in Hagi, to online. Sometimes the increase is extreme, especially online.
As the saying goes, Kyoto in autumn is priceless, so a few extra yen for tea still has me so envious of your visit.
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Victoria
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Fri Nov 22, 2019 12:50 pm

rdl wrote:
Fri Nov 22, 2019 11:58 am
A mention of Osaka first, if you are interested in architecture, both historic and contemporary.
Tadao Ando's studio is located in Osaka as well as a few great works of his, and several other architects.
http://voyapon.com/tadao-ando-osaka/
Japanese modern and contemporary architecture is part of Osaka's attraction.
I have never noticed a real price difference in Japan. Fukuoka prices seem the same as Tokyo or Osaka, when looking at tea wear. However I know that the prices go up from the potter's studio in Hagi, to the shops in Hagi, to online. Sometimes the increase is extreme, especially online.
As the saying goes, Kyoto in autumn is priceless, so a few extra yen for tea still has me so envious of your visit.
Thanks for sharing that, I forgot Tado Ando was in Osaka. I had the honor of meeting him several times over the years in university settings, and have often thought of visiting his atelier which is a very interesting series of vertical spaces packed full of stuff, in contrast to his minimalistic clean work.
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rdl
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Fri Nov 22, 2019 1:00 pm

Victoria,
I had forgotten about the walls stacked books on top of books. The contained wisdom of all those words; but I did imagine a sort of monk's cell where the architect was hidden, creating his alchemy.
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Bok
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Tue Nov 26, 2019 11:25 pm

rdl wrote:
Fri Nov 22, 2019 1:00 pm
Victoria,
I had forgotten about the walls stacked books on top of books. The contained wisdom of all those words; but I did imagine a sort of monk's cell where the architect was hidden, creating his alchemy.
Reminds me of seeing a documentary of the Ulm School of Design, the follow-up of the Bauhaus. At the end of the documentary, the old guys from back then, famous for their minimalist design, meet up regularily in a cozy, but cheesy traditional beer house full of unnecessary details and ornaments... :P
Ethan Kurland
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Wed Nov 27, 2019 6:02 am

Bok, I saw that documentary on television & was not smart enough to notice the contradiction. Good for you!

(I'll forgive my dullness, I was reading sub-titles.)

Cheers
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