kappabashi kitchen town

kappabashi kitchen town, tokyo

We rounded the corner onto Kappabashi-dori. My eyes lit up, my heart skipped two beats. At the same time Jack let out a big sigh and whined “oh nooo… today is going to SUUCK.”

Luckily, there was some free wifi in the area so he could distract himself while I carefully looked through every last copper pot, ginger grater, and tiny painted bowl… I have no words, really. Store upon store, stuffed with stuff (good stuff). Pinch me.

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yudofu (tofu) in kyoto

tofu in Kyoto / loveandlemons.com

In Japan, tofu is not a meat or dairy replacement. It’s just a regular food that regular people eat – and hardly anyone there is vegetarian. The very best way to experience tofu is at a yudofu restaurant in Kyoto. You sit down (on mats) to a set meal which starts with a few small dishes made out of various types of tofu. Then comes the big star – the simmering pot of soft tofu. It’s luscious, creamy, and unlike any kind of tofu that has ever come out of a box. This particular meal was at Okutan, a 350 year old establishment, where they make their own tofu on site every morning.

tofu in Kyoto / loveandlemons.com

Cute story – this woman, our Japanese grandmother (at least for that afternoon), noticed us taking photos at the start of the meal. When she brought out the big hot pot, she motioned to Jack and made a charades-style camera-clicking motion… preparing him to get the camera ready before she opened the steaming pot. It’s always awkward trying to photograph in restaurants, so of course we loved her participation… language barrier and all.

tofu in Kyoto / loveandlemons.comtofu in Kyoto / loveandlemons.com

The tofu is served simply – with soy sauce, grated daikon, scallions and shichimi. The meal is finished off with crispy veggie tempura, rice & Japanese pickles. I wish could eat like this every day!

For more Kyoto restaurant/travel recommendations, see this post.

uji & matcha

Tea fields, Uji Japan // loveandlemons.commatcha cream // loveandlemons.com

A few days ago, we took this short little day trip to the land of Matcha. Uji is famous for producing the finest Matcha in Japan since the 14th century. It’s not necessarily a “must see,” but it’s an easy 30 minute train ride from Kyoto and it was just so beautiful. We strolled the little main street, saw a (pretty touristy) tea ceremony, drank some frothy matcha, and had a nice cha-soba lunch.

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starfox mountain

Fushimi Inari-Taisha // loveandlemons.com

…otherwise known as Fushimi Inari-Taisha. (We nicknamed it Starfox Mountain). This shrine is the #1 Kyoto attraction on Trip Advisor, yet last time we were here, we somehow missed it. We really try hard not to fall into major tourist traps… I guess sometimes we try a little too hard. This one is amazing. If you go, prepare to walk up a ton of stairs (it’s about 35 minutes to the top), so be sure to wear good shoes like I didn’t.

Fushimi Inari-Taisha // loveandlemons.com

Some fun geek trivia – a friend of Jack’s who lives here who worked on the old Super Nintendo game Star Fox, said that the concept of the game was inspired by the idea of flying through the torii (the orange tunnel-ey gates), at this shrine.

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