When there is a queue….

Naturally a queue in Japan must be for something good.  On our final Sunday in Tokyo we had cycled from our hotel past the Imperial Palace and towards the area around the Tokyo Train Station.  We had read previously of a baker who imported French butter and created amazing pastries…  so we thought we should try them!

We managed to locate the shop (it had only just opened), and naturally a queue had formed outside so we joined.

There was much anticipation standing being in the queue, as you could see inside the shop and the piles of delicate crossiants slowly decreasing. We had read each person is only able to purchase 6 crossiaints each – given our position in the queue we were hopeful. White waiting outside a sign was suddenly put on the door – butter was sold out. Weph. We slowly edged closer to the front as other people emerged from the shop with their large blue Echire shopping bags, then we were allowed to join the queue inside. being inside had a couple of advantages, as we could see what was available, so we could decide before we got to the head of the queue. The second advantage was the strong smell of butter – ah devine.

Here are a few photos from the display inside the shop –

We had decided to purchase 2 croissants, 1 pain du chocolate, and an chausson aux pomme, and a tin of biscuits to take back home.  One we were outside we sat in the near by square and took the following photos:

the Croissant


… If you are wondering about the taste – they were fabulous.  The taste of the croissant was great, the pastry wasn’t too flaky but you could really taste the butter.  The pain du chocolat was warm, and the combination of the pastry and the chocolate was perfect.  Ah… Worth the wait!

Cycling Kyoto…

Just over 24 hours was spent in Kyoto. We had been there a number of times previously and since it is the location of my favourite breakfast in the world, I couldn’t go past staying. We arrived by train, the. lugged our luggage for 15 minutes+ to where were were staying a couple of blocks from the train station.
Kyoto by bike

Since we had been to Kyoto on every trip to Japan there was nothing we “had” to visit.  Once we had reached our accomodation, the bikes were unpacked and we decided to head towards the silver temple and see what we could see.

Not long on the bike we soon came across people building a float for the Gion Festival. The shops along the street were on sale and had tables outside.
Kyoto by bike
We took advantage of this and ventured into one shop bought a few gifts and enjoyed an ice cream.
Kyoto by bike
After breifly cooling down, we then took some back streets. There are so many interesting things you see as you ride, unfortunately you don’t always have the time to stop and take the photos – just enjoy the experience.
Kyoto by bike
We came across a bakery, and just had to stop. Kym selected a couple of items and we continued on our way towards the river.   We stopped and enjoyed the pastries (not as good as home!), the scenery and watching people as they passed by on the warm late sunny Sunday afternoon.
Kyoto by bikeKyoto by bike
After following the course of the river for some time we then we followed a road towards the silver temple.
The road to the silver temple is steep, thankfully given the time of the evening there was no one walking up. Here you can see our bikes parked outside the entrance to Ginkakuji (silver temple).

Kyoto by bike
After taking a quick photo and drink break (yeah to drink vending machines), we were asked to move our bikes as the security guard ws locking up, and we dutifily complied.  We then took the philosophers walk path which goes along the bas of a number of temples in Kyoto.  It was quite a difference experience cycling a road at dusk which we had previously walked.
Kyoto by bike
It was a truely great experience cycling a road we had previously walked which was bustling with tourists when we were last here in November. We cycled past all the closed shops and the traditionally designed Japanese buildings which were unusually silent. If you have visited Kyoto you will be familar with these streets, as they led up towards the large wooden Kiyomizu temple.

Kyoto by bike
Kyoto by bike
The last photo is not the best, but you’re can see the wooden temple in the distance.  It was taken at the top of a very step climb. When we stopped, a group of security guards in a building on the corner who gave us a wave at our efforts. It was a great evening on the bike!
Kyoto by bike

A funny thing happened at the check-in counter…

Today has been one of those hot and sticky days.  When you walk, the sweat is literally dripping from you – okay I was pulling a couple of bags but I have never sweated so much.  I will acknowledge now, I will never move to a location with humid weather.

After enjoying a Japanese breakfast, repacking the packing from the previous night replacing the suitcase and wandering around Coredo (building and shopping complex highlighting traditional Japanese fare), enjoying lunch and saying goodbye to Gaku, we bought another small suitcase – sorry mum I hope it’s going to fit in the car.  We then lugged the suitcases (two large bike cases and two smaller cases), and the bike bag on three trains, up and down escalators after 1.5+ hours we made it to the airport checkin.  Hooray.

After a short conversation about our bags (yes the air is out of the tyres, and we do have one fragile item in a bags) we were regretfully informed the flight was full, and we have had our seats changed – to business.  She hoped we didn’t mind.  Given the pulling of the bags, we are more than happy to take the upgrade – thanks Qantas!

See you the other side of the pond. 


Mt. Fuji

On every trip to Japan, I’ve always hoped to see Mt Fujij for longer than a few seconds on a train.  The best view I’ve had was when we flew from China to Japan out an airplane window ,but alas I had no camera near me at the time, you are going to have to take my word – it is much better from above! While I knew we were not staying somewhere near the mountain with a good view this time around , my only expectation was a fleeting glance on the train.  Kym requested a seat on Mt Fuji side of the train from Kyoto to Tokyo and while it was hot and blue skies in Kyoto, I was aware the weather was changing.  Here is the view we had from the train:

Train to Tokyo

Here’s hoping the view on the next trip will be better….

ABC’s of Japanese Cooking…

On previous visits to Japan we had often passed ABC cooking schools, where we had seen people cooking a variety of dishes.  We had always thought would that be a great idea to do on a holiday!  This time we thought given we were in Japan for a week we would attend one, so Kym had our hotel book us in for one in English as the website was only in Japanese.ABC cooking school - Tokyo

Our class consisted of three people and our instructor. Around us there were three other classes going on, Thai, bread making, and Chinese.  The instructor was Taiwanese but also had very good English.  All the ingredients were cut up and she told us what to do, and in the order, according to the instructions. ABC cooking school - Tokyo

Here is what we made:

  • Gyudon- beef bowl
  • Miso soup with wakame and Ofu
  • Cucumber with Konbu marinate
  • Kochi Dorayaki (sweet filled pancake)

ABC cooking school - Tokyo
A couple of interesting points we learnt

  • Here beef is available sliced very thinly strips from the butcher.  We would never be able to cut it as thin unless it was frozen.  They were as long as your index finger – makes cooking a much quicker!
  • We’ve always loved the dorayaki you can buy in Japan.  The pancake mixture featured a couple of different flours, honey, bean paste, and mirin and were very simple to make.  The centre was a candied chestnut!

ABC cooking school - Tokyo
I’m looking forward to Kym cooking these dishes again when we get home!

Feeling a little flat..

We are approaching the end of our holiday, and we’re feeling a little bit tired.  The weather is still hot, and we are avoiding looking at the forecasts, given our desire to ride everywhere we go.  Yesterday was suppose to rain all day – but thankfully it only seemed to rain while we were eating breakfast.  Demonstrates forecasts are just that! But I will acknowledge the humidity is wearing us down and when it’s overcast it’s a lot easier to cope with.

Today it’s off to the UNU Farmer’s Market for breakfast.  The coffee was really good a couple of weeks when we visited there, and hopefully we might try out of the wood-oven pizza from the tiny van!

kym pumping tyre in Hotel Niwa

Ginza Kojyu

We ate at Ginza Kojyu last night. 

It was fantastic. We sat at the counter and observed the amazing skills if Chef Toru Okuda.

The plates and bowls are amazing. So amazing that the restaurant is named after Nishioka Kojyu, a renowned Japanese potter.