Nishiki Food Market – Kyoto’s Kitchen (2)

Continuing our exploration along the Nishiki food market in Kyoto we manage to find one of the things that the market is famous for – baby octopus stuffed with a quails egg.

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto JapanI had read about these when doing some research on places to visit in Kyoto. I managed to convince Carlos he should try one.

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

And he didn’t seem to mind. Nishiki Food Market Kyoto JapanMoving on, there were lots of other street foods to try – most of which involved some kind of stick.

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

It’s not hard to see why the shopping street is called Kyoto’s kitchen. There was more of less any kind of food or ingredient you could want here. Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

 

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto JapanAs we reached the end of the market, there were more kinds of things on sale, clothing and accessories for example, as modeled here by this giant teddy bear in a kimono.

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Probably the cutest doughnuts in Japan? Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto JapanThat concludes our trip down Nishiki food market in Kyoto – definitely a highlight of our trip.

Nishiki Food Market – Kyoto’s Kitchen (1)

When travelling I love to visit markets, particularly food markets, they reveal so much about cuisine and culture. Nishiki Market in Kyoto was a great example of this. It is a very long shopping street that is covered and is known as Kyoto’s Kitchen because of the hundreds of market stalls and restaurants that line it (and the surrounding side streets).

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

For many of the stalls I wasn’t even sure what a lot of the ingredients were, which makes it even more fascinating. Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

 

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto JapanI could have spent hours wandering off the side streets from this market as there were so many more places to explore.

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

I was quite tempted by these Japanese sweets, all individually wrapped. Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Unsurprisinglythere was a lot of seafood. Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

So many different types of food, as you move from one stall to another the smell of the market totally changes. Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

A lot of fishes on sticks were for sale. There is a particular delicacy on a stick that Nishiki food market is famous for and I’ll explain more about that in the next blog post. Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto Japan

Nishiki Food Market Kyoto JapanSo we are now about half way down Nishiki food market. The next blog post continues the journey…

Cherry blossom rain in Kyoto

While in Japan we had seen some cherry blossom in Tokyo but it was really towards the end of the season there. However, when we reached Kyoto many more of the cherry trees were in bloom. After visiting the temple of the Golden Pavillion we went for a walk in search of lunch and accidentally discovered a small park that had an event as part of the cherry blossom festival.

It was literally raining cherry blossom everywhere in this park.

Cherry blossom Kyoto

Cherry blossom Kyoto

Cherry blossom KyotoLater in the day there was going to be a procession here, and people were already lining the path.

Cherry blossom Kyoto

Several time while wandering around here there were gusts of wind and the air just became filled with cherry blossom – probably one of the most beautiful moments of the holiday. Cherry blossom Kyoto

Cherry blossom Kyoto

Cherry blossom Kyoto

As part of the procession the shrine was moved from it’s usual place and carried along a processional route. Cherry blossom Kyoto Cherry blossom Kyoto

So much cherry blossom – everywhere!Cherry blossom Kyoto

Cherry blossom Kyoto

Cherry blossom KyotoQuite a few times in Japan, by wandering off the tourist trail we discovered places that were both beautiful and fascinating. This was definitely one of those times. Technically we ended up in this place because I mis-read the map, and I am very glad I did!

 

 

Reaching the Temple of the Golden Pavillion

I have a lifetime ambition to visit as many UNESCO World Heritage Sites as possible and on the trip to Japan I was able to tick quite a few off this list. One of the most spectacular sites had to be the Temple of the Golden Pavillion (Kikaku-ji) in Kyoto.

Temple of the Golden Pavillion Kyoto Kinkaju-ji

Temple of the Golden Pavillion Kyoto Kinkaju-ji

Temple of the Golden Pavillion Kyoto Kinkaju-ji

Temple of the Golden Pavillion Kyoto Kinkaju-ji

Temple of the Golden Pavillion Kyoto Kinkaju-ji

Temple of the Golden Pavillion Kyoto Kinkaju-jiThis place was even more beautiful than I thought.

Temple of the Golden Pavillion Kyoto Kinkaju-jiNew life springs from the tree trunk.

Temple of the Golden Pavillion Kyoto Kinkaju-ji

Before we left we sat and had some fresh green tea, and a small Japanese cake. Temple of the Golden Pavillion Kyoto Kinkaju-ji

Sundown in Shibuya

One evening in Tokyo we headed back to Shibuya, keen to see what the place looked like once the sun went down.

Shibuya Tokyo Japan

I even had time to play around with the camera for a bit. Many of the photographs just looked like streaks of light but I quite like this one. Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Shibuya Tokyo Japan

At the famous Shibuya crossing there were plenty of tourists heading backwards and forwards across the crossing trying to get that ‘in action’ shot. Shibuya Tokyo JapanIn the earlier Shibuya post I mentioned the view from the Starbucks store, and this is that view.

Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Shibuya Tokyo Japan

So many colours, so many lights. Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Shibuya Tokyo Japan Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Shibuya Tokyo Japan

This scene makes our earlier trip to Shibuya look like it was deserted. Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Shibuya Tokyo Japan

Shibuya Tokyo JapanI took quite a few long exposure shots of the Shibuya crossing and made a very short video to try and show just how busy it was.

Towering over Tokyo

There are so many high rise towers in Tokyo, and there are a few options for getting a view from up high in the city. We opted to try out the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Tower Observatories. It’s a nice area to wander around, with several gardens close by and plenty of places for coffee.

Tokyo Metropolitan Tower Japan

Tokyo Metropolitan Tower Japan

It was a pretty hazy day in Tokyo, so we weren’t able to see the mountains beyond the city, but nevertheless a spectacular view – you can even see the trees still with cherry blossom dotted among the park below. Tokyo Metropolitan Tower Japan

Tokyo Metropolitan Tower JapanTokyo Metropolitan Tower JapanThe green area you can see is the Meiji Jingu shrine area. As I mentioned in a previous post a patch of tranquility in an urban jungle.

Tokyo Metropolitan Tower Japan

Tokyo Metropolitan Tower Japan

Already Tokyo are gearing up for the Olympics in 2020!Tokyo Metropolitan Tower Japan

The Metropolitan Government Tower buildings seen from below – there are observatories in both towers and the are both free to visit. Each tower gives you a view over different areas of the city.  Tokyo Metropolitan Tower Japan

We were in this area at what must have been the beginning of lunch time as there was almost a surge of people streaming out of the buildings in the area into the restaurants, cafes and shops. As you can see here, some people were really in a hurry! Tokyo Metropolitan Tower Japan

Tokyo Japan

 

Tokyo Metropolitan Tower Japan

Tranquility in Tokyo: The Meiji Shrine

After a walk through Shibuya and past Harajuku we ended up at the Meiji Shrine which is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the spirits of the Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shōken.

Meji Shrine Meji Jingu TokyoMany sake barrels which were apparently donated each year by the Meiji Jingu Nationwide Sake Brewers Association and others as a sign of respect for the spirits of the Emperor and Empress.

Meji Shrine Meji Jingu TokyoIt was a really tranquil place and it was easy to forget that we were actually in the centre of one of the largest cities of the world. Meji Shrine Meji Jingu Tokyo

In many locations around the shrine there were places to hang  Ema, small wooden plaques which are usually used by Shinto worshippers to write their prayers or wishes. They are hung around theses shrines so that the spirits can then receive them.

Meji Shrine Meji Jingu TokyoA place for the ritual washing ceremony before you enter the shrine.

Meji Shrine Meji Jingu Tokyo

Meji Shrine Meji Jingu TokyoThe torii gate, a traditional Japanese gate marking the entrance to a shrine. This was the main entrance to the Meiji shrine complex.

Meji Shrine Meji Jingu Tokyo

Meji Shrine Meji Jingu Tokyo

Meji Shrine Meji Jingu Tokyo

Meji Shrine Meji Jingu Tokyo

Meji Shrine Meji Jingu TokyoIf you are in Tokyo and need a bit of peace and tranquility this is definitely a good place to try. It’s true that this place does get busy with a lot of tourists, but it is still one of the most peaceful places we visited in the city.

Entering Shibuya

 

Before visiting Japan when I thought of Tokyo I thought of Shibuya crossing which is famous for being one of the world’s busiest road crossings. I have seen so many photographs of this place and it was one of the places I really wanted to visit. We ended up in Shibuya a few times over the trip but the photographs in this post are from the first visit. While it might look busy in this picture, this was actually pretty quiet for Shibuya – as we found out when we went back later in the day.

Shibuya crossing Tokyo Japan

Standing at the crossing waiting to head back to the Tokyo Metro. Shibuya crossing Tokyo Japan

 

For a good view over the crossing it is worth heading up to the Starbucks that is on the first floor of the store you can see in this picture. It’s probably the best view I’ve had in a Starbucks. While the crossing does have ‘pedestrian crossing’ lines which cross in different direction it does seem like people will charge in more or less any direction, as you see in this picture.  Shibuya crossing Tokyo Japan

Shibuya crossing Tokyo Japan

Shibuya crossing Tokyo JapanThere will be more from our visits to Shibuya soon.

Ginza Lights

The Ginza district in Tokyo named after the silver-coin mint established in the Edo Period, is now home to high end shops and restaurants. Our first hotel was in this district and it meant every walk home in the evening was a delight of bright lights. I don’t often get much chance in the UK to do much photography in the evening so this was quite a refreshing challenge to work with different conditions.

Here was the view from our first hotel room – a great spot for people watching.

Ginza Tokyo Japan

Ginza Tokyo Japan

Ginza Tokyo Japan

Ginza Tokyo Japan

While the main streets were full of high street brands that would be familiar in any city, it was the side streets that made Ginza so fascinating. Look down many of the side streets and you would see lots of different places to eat, but a totally different feel to the main street.  Ginza Tokyo Japan

Ginza Tokyo JapanThese sweets were from a Japanese confectionery shop called Ginza Akebono. I never really accustomed to the Japanese style sweet like these, but I kept trying them anyway.

Ginza Tokyo Japan

Ginza Tokyo JapanOne evening we actually walked a bit too far, and missed the turning for our hotel but it meant we did end up seeing one of Tokyo’s most famous Kabuki theateres Kabuki-za.Ginza Tokyo Japan

Ginza Tokyo Japan  This shop was closed but with this kind of shop front decoration I’m pretty sure I would have spent a fair bit of time in here! Ginza Tokyo JapanAs you can see here there were plenty of shopping opportunities, although we were happy to just to wander around taking photos.

Ginza Tokyo Japan

Ginza Tokyo JapanMuch like in any city, I often discover things off the main street – you might just be able to see at the back of this photographs a Starbucks logo – this was the first Starbucks in Tokyo (which we did visit a couple of times).

Ginza Tokyo JapanIf you want to expoeriment with low light photographs, Tokyo is a photographers dream – so many different kinds of colour and illumination.

Ginza Tokyo Japan

Ginza Tokyo Japan

Ginza Tokyo JapanEven late at night (this photograph was taken at about 9:30pm the city was busy.

Ginza Tokyo Japan

Ginza Tokyo JapanFor some reason I loved taking photographs of crossing in Japan. I think it is in part because they are so much bigger than in the UK and the bursts of activity that happen when the pedestrians start to walk make for some great images.

Ginza Tokyo Japan

Ginza Tokyo Japan

Ginza Tokyo JapanThere will be more from the Oblique Exposure Japanese adventure soon.

Birmingham in the sunshine

Finally, a day off work to go for a wander. With the sun still out we decided to head to Birmingham as it’s a place we’ve been meaning to visit for some time. I’ve never really explored Birmingham before, it’s usually a place I just travel past on the M6 of through when changing trains at Birmingham New Street Station.

As with any city, some interesting street art.

Birmingham City Centre

Birmingham City Centre

Interesting sculpture, also being used as a good resting place…Birmingham City Centre

A beautiful day for a walk about the city. It reminded my just how much I enjoy exploring new urban environments. Birmingham City CentreSomeone clearly had fun with this street art.

Birmingham City CentreI’m sure we will be back in Birmingham again soon, if only to visit the magnificent Waterstones book shop we discovered there – one of the nicest branches of the shop I’ve been to.