First off, thank you all for your New Year messages, I was surprised when I opened the computer to see them. When I posted about the foods we had for New Years, I had forgotten to mention that I didn't make most of the foods we had on New Years, yes, I cheated and bought a lot of them mainly because the cost of buying the ingredients was kind of outrageous.
On January 2nd, Satoshi and I went to his parent's home in Kyoto. They live near Kinkakuji (the Golden Pavillion). I had heard that Satoshi's brother and his family would be there, but when we got there, it seems Satoshi "forgot" that his brother and family couldn't make it...So, it was just the two of us with his parents and his uncle. They took us to the Takaragaike Prince Hotel for a luncheon buffet at a French restaurant called Beaux Sejours.
Here is the lobby decorations and a pair of kadomatsu
at the entrance to the hotel. We had to wait quite a long time to get into the restaurant as they were not taking reservations, but lunch was really good.
After lunch we decided to visit Kamigamo shrine. Most visit shrines and temples during the first few days of the New Year, to pay their respects and pray for the New Year, this is called hatsumode, I wrote more about it last year, here. The grounds of Kamigamo shrine are huge! Since it was quite rainy, the amount of people were substantially less, so it was actually nice not to be pushed and shoved.
In the center of the grounds, there is large area where they hold various events. These two mounds of sand called morizuna are there year-round as a representation of the mountains that the gods came from.
As you leave the shrine, in the parking area there is a little mochi (rice cake) shop called Aoiya. They are known for their yakimochi (grilled rice cake). They are only a dollar a piece and come in plain (white) and yomogi (mugwort). Both have the sweet bean paste inside.
After visiting the shrine, we headed back to Satoshi's parent's house and had some o-sechi and these cute manju (steamed bean cakes) called fukuwauchi--which means the "good luck comes inside" made by Tsuruya. These cakes are different from others because they use a bean called otafukumame--which means lots of luck beans. Otafukumame is actually soramame (lima or fava beans) cooked with sugar to sweeten them up. It was a nice visit and a nice way to start the year.
Today, the weather was clear and sunny. We walked towards the next city, Ikeda (about 30 minutes from us). I had accidentally found this route while walking back from an English lesson last month and wanted to show Satoshi all the amazing finds.
The first place we stopped at was this shrine called Sonpachiyakujin also known as Shakain. We were amazed that this huge shrine was tucked away in a little neighborhood so close to us.
They also had their pair of kadomatsu at the entrance. If you notice there is a plant at the bottom that looks like a leafy cabbage, this is called habotan (leafy peony). I don't think you can eat it, but you can see it around in various arrangements during autumn and winter in Japan.
On our way back, we stopped in a bake shop called Mademoiselle Liliha. I had wanted to ask about the name of this place, but everyone was too busy. The reason is because we have a Liliha bakery in Hawaii. We tried two of their baked treats. (UPDATE: as of 9/19/08: this place has since closed)
Satsukiyama Romance-a heart shaped cookie sandwiching chocolate cream.
Satsukiyama Golf Road-we weren't too sure why this treat was named what it was but it does look like a golf ball, don't you think? It is a puff pastry enveloping a whole marron glace.
Whew, this post was a long one, hope no one fell asleep while reading it.
Satoshi goes back to work tomorrow. Have a great week everyone!