Kyoto: Red gates, golden shrines and ohhh the food

Kyoto is built for rain. Covered streets and shopping arcades and mega department stores and food courts. What do Kyotans do in the rain. Shop till they drop.

What did we do? Wander through damp paths in a dense bamboo forest next to Tenryuji shrine. Walk through a sea of blazing red Torii Gates next to Fushimi Inari Shrine. And finally a wet stroll through the gardens surrounding the spectacular Kinkaku Golden pavilion, a Buddhist temple surrounded by water, reflecting its brilliant hue back in constant homage and surrounded by with trees just barely tipping into fall plumage.

Yes, we were soaking wet each day despite umbrellas and rain jackets. But it is warm rain. And how could we complain when geisha clad in peacock-hued kimonos and open wooden sandals wandered casually among us.

We ate the best tempura ever, freshly made before us in an arcade mall. We devoured the best ramen meal in a little cafe near our hotel. And we had a very expensive lunch at a revered kaisekai (multi-course, set menu)restaurant. It was in the heart of the old Gion District filled with tea shops and artfully dressed geisha and geisha wannabes at every turn.

The restaurant, Aji fukushima, seats exactly 9 people at the bar. We sat transfixed as course after course of delicate & delicious dishes (7) appeared before us . Lift a lid and a delicate soup with a crab filled egg disc hovering on top, then a course of perfect seared tuna bites, then an array of other dishes, mostly fish

Each dish was so oishii (delicious) and for a precious hour or so, the rain was held at bay as we sat completely and contentLy in the moment. Thanks to our son who had a local family friend contact, we scored two prime seats for this memorable meal.

Not so memorable were the fake lobster sticks we bought at a street stand or the expensive, thimble portion of wagyu ordered in a teppanyaki bar.

As we head out this morning, the sun burst out for the first time as we waited for our bullet train to our next destination— the art island of Naoshima. Sunshine is a good omen!

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