the green tea city
shion, my daughter, left me yesterday. so my life is now back to normal, but my flat felts empty. she stayed with me for the whole last week and got what she (or i) planned done while she was here. for instance, with her help, we completed a project that we moved my bed and antique chest of drawers from the biggest room in my flat, where they had occupied, to the next room i had used as my study until we changed it. the next day, we went to ikea to get some stuff for a finishing touch and she bought me a duvet cover as a belated birthday gift. anyway, my former bed room, being reborn as a proper living room, is looking pretty good.
whenever shion is here, she’d go out to the park for an hour-walk every morning. and she did that in spite of having started suffering hay fever (and so have i, caused by cider pollen). we also had meals with my mother a couple of times at her home and paid a visit to my brother in his hospital together. but the high light of her stay was, like always, to become tourists visiting some historic place in 京都 kyoto. we chose 宇治 uji city in the kyoto prefecture this time. the city actually boasts two unesco world heritage sites located on the right and left banks of the uji river: 平等院 byodo-in (temple) and 宇治上神社 ujigami-jinja (shrine).
we made it on friday. although we were hoping that it’d be a sunny day, it turned out to be cloudy, even raining sometimes, certainly not a nice day for a day-out. yet, it was pleasantly a quiet day since there was no big tourist-crowd at all. 平等院 byodo-in, built in the mid 11th century, is so familiar as it appears on our every 10 yen coin. in fact, we both had visited uji before, definitely the temple, but we barely remembered what it was really like. 鳳凰堂 phoenix hall with the ornaments of phoenix on the rooftop stood magnificently. in particular, i loved the statues of bodhisattvas with musical instruments on clouds – all national treasures.
when we walked out of the gate, it was already 3 o’clock. it was time for hungry tourists to have a break for sure. we found a cosy eatery nearby and had a 3-course meal of 湯葉 yuba, tofu-skin, which kyoto is also famous for. while 豆腐 tofu has been a global food now, 湯葉 yuba is still almost unknown for european and american gourmet people. my brother took me to a popular 湯葉 yuba restaurant in kyoto before his second hospitalisation for surgery, actually. we then had an 10-course meal that every dish was made with soybeans as ingredients like meat, cheese and milk. no wonder, it’s very healthy.
after the late lunch, we crossed the foot bridges and headed for our other destination, 宇治上神社 ujigami-jinja. well, from an economical point of view, shrines are better for tourists than temples and i’ll tell you why. shrines won’t charge you for just viewing the site, while you will always have to pay some entrance fee to view renowned temples. shion and i were simply happy to go through the austere gate of 宇治上神社 ujigami-jinja free. but yet, the ancient shrine looked demure, divine and impressive enough to remember. it is different from other ordinary shrines. it’s moderately decorated, which is quite unusual for shinto shrines.
as a matter of fact, 宇治 uji is one of the main green tea producers in japan. so, if you visit kyoto, you will see green tea flavoured sweet things like cake and ice cream wherever you go. and shion couldn’t resist them. when she went up to the central part of kyoto for shopping on her own on thursday, she brought me her favourite green tea baumkuchen. we enjoyed a huge piece of it. and she was planning to eat it all before leaving for tokyo where she lives. but the thing is, she couldn’t. because she had too much sushi that her grandma offered when we visited her again.
now my sweet daughter’s gone. i am finishing the rest of it... green tea bliss!