Our Travels to Kansai, Japan-Kyoto International Manga Museum, Ramen University, and Fushimi Inari

Day 6

Breakfast Guest

Our morning started off with breakfast at home. Our hanai girls Sari and Hikari were coming to join us. Sari was traveling from Tokyo, and Hikari was coming from the southern part of Osaka. They were both participants in the WAVOC program too. Hikari stayed with us and Sari and her husband came for an over night stay with us during their honeymoon a year ago. We also had dinner with Sari and Ken when they came to Hawaii in May for a vacation. Today Sari and Hikari would be joining us on our Travels to Kyoto.

Every Little Space

As we rode the train to Kyoto this time I took pictures of the rice paddies. They have them in the most unusual places (I’m not used to seeing them between apartment buildings or in the middle of a town). It amazes me how they utilize space.

A Positive Attitude 

As we were making our way to the Kyoto International Manga Museum, Sari was the target of a well aimed bomb that landed on her calf from a passing bird. We were amazed at this happening because we were all under umbrella because it was drizzling. Sari didn’t go into hysterics but just wiped it as best as she could with a wet wipe and said that it was good luck. I guess it’s the same as someone stepping in dog poop in America. I could never understand the logic behind that saying. (she cleaned off better at KIMM).

Kyoto International Manga Museum 

Upon entering you purchase your entrance ticket from a vending machine. When you give the person behind the reception desk your ticket they ask you how you heard of their establishment. I learned about it when I did a search for Anime/Manga places to visit. Our two eldest children and I enjoy reading manga and watching anime. We were enthralled by the many floors of Manga (most are in Japanese, but they have a space just pass the gift shop with manga published in other languages). The museum is a former school. We roamed the halls and rooms reading about the history of manga, the different types of anime, and the artist and authors of the manga, the chronological order of when they were published.

and looking to see if they had any of the manga that we had read among the thousands of books. I was thrilled to find “Candy Candy” from my childhood.

*Note: Photos prohibited in most of the museum. There are signs that say “photos okay in this area.”

In the magazine area I looked through the many caricature drawings of actors, singers, and sports stars from the past to the present. They had one of my new favorite actors Sasaki Ryotaro, who stars in this years “Taiga” drama “Segadon.”

Also in this area were cutouts that you could take a picture with.

I could have spent the whole day at the museum but we had another appointment to get to.

Taxi Ride 

Sari and Hikari were helpful in getting us to our next destination on time. We had planned to catch the subway thinking when we were planning that it would only be a short distance. Wrong! It was a 45 minute travel time by rail, and we would’ve missed our appointment. Sari and Hikari advised us to take a taxi (20 minutes). We wouldn’t have attempted this on our own, but with them there to help us, we boarded the 3 separate taxis and headed to our destination. It was a bit nerve racking at first because they drive on the opposite side of the street and they squeezed themselves between traffic zipping in and out. Once you reach your destination you pay the fare and receive your change, there is NO tipping in Japan, so even if you tell them to keep the change they won’t, they will politely, but firmly refuse.

Ramen Factory Kyoto

It’s a bit out of the way of the main stream tourist places but worth it for a hands on experience. My husband found this place while looking for places to eat in Kyoto. Our appointment was at 1:30, we arrived 5 minutes early, but Wei and Michiyo were ready for us and welcomed us into the restaurant.

*Note: the classes are held during the slow time of the day. The  restaurant remains open for business while the class is going on.

Wei and Michiyo were great, they both spoke fairly good English to give us instructions, and had the instructions written out in English on a flip chart too with pictures. Our course cost $30 per person and lasted about an hour, and you get to keep the head scarfs.

After washing up we mixed the ingredients.

pounded out the dough, rolled out the dough to put it through a machine to make it flatter.

Then put it through the machine again (opposite side) to cut the dough in to ramen, then put it in a wire basket to put it into the boiling water for exactly 55 seconds. While we waited we were able to chose our bowls and given our soup stock (choice of miso, shoyu, shio-salt, or vegetable for those who are vegetarians).

Once the ramen noodles are done you quickly place them in your broth, and dress it with garnish. Itadakimasu! (I will partake of this food). Ahhhh, so Ono! (delicious).

Sari and Hikari who were watching and taking pictures for us, joined us for a delicious lunch! When you are done eating you receive your certificates! Great hands on experience!

Kindness of a Stranger 

From here Sari suggested that we head to Fushimi Inari since it was near by. On the walk to the subway station it began to rain, my husband opened the umbrella for us. A kind lady seeing us sharing the umbrella stopped us and offered me her umbrella. I politely declined after thanking her for her kindness. She insisted saying that our umbrella was too small for two people to share, and put her umbrella in my hand, then told me it was okay as she pulled out another umbrella from her bag. I thanked her for her kindness with a waist bow.

Fushimi Inari

Outside of the station there is a stall that sells unagi (eel) inari zushi. Our daughter brought one to try. I love unagi, but was too full to try one. She liked it.

The street leading up to the main shrine is lined on both sides with vendor stalls selling food, and souvenirs.

As we hiked up the Torii lined path our grandson asked, “why are the torii gates different sizes and what are the writings on them.” We informed him that the size depends on the amount of your donation, the bigger your donation the bigger your torii gate. The writings on the gates are of the individual, families or business that donated the money.

As you make your way up the mountain side there are rest points with shops, to purchase drinks, snacks and souvenirs. My husband and grandson had gone on ahead of me (we were the only 3 to hike up the mountain), it began to rain so I stopped at the little shop to wait for them to come back down enjoying the quiet, and beauty of nature .

They had gone to the last rest stop area before the loop trail started and looked out over the city. There were two restaurants up there too. They decided not to go on the lop trail due to the rain. As we made our way down my husband was curious to know how they got the supplies up the mountain because most of the shop owners were elderly. I told him that there’s a road. (I saw it as I took my time walking up taking pictures as I went. I took more pictures coming down.

Back down the we walked around the many stalls and shopped as well as snacked. I tried a green colored dango 🍡. The seller said it was made with an herbal grass, the reason for its green color. The seller asked if I wanted the miso sauce on it. I wasn’t sure, so she just put it on the top one and said if I liked it I could go back and put more on. The miso sauce was okay, but I preferred it without.

Surprise!

From Fushimi Inari (another place I could have stayed all day at), we headed home to Osaka. Sari used her umbrella to keep us from getting lost in the busy stations, just like the tour guides with their flags.

When we stopped to change trains we noticed Sari and Hikari looking around and thought they were unsure of where to go, but then they pointed and Surprise! It was Michi (Mitsuya, another of our WAVOC students). He was in Osaka on business and was heading back to Tokyo and wanted to see us, even for just a bit. (It’s ironic that we met Michi in Osaka this time, because on our previous visit to Tokyo he was working in Osaka and came to Tokyo to see us). We spent the time on the train ride catching up.

The 2 Michi’s together again! (Michiko & Mitsuya)

We all got on the train together, and headed home. Sari, Hikari, and Michi Walled us back to our home, and waited till we were all inside (after we took a last picture) and the door closed, before leaving.

What a wonderfully memorable day, with an unexpected happy surprise!

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