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Japan 2016: Day 7

This article is a post I originally made on Facebook about our seventh day in Japan which took place on April 9, 2016. On the 1 year anniversary of our trip to Japan I decided to repost it here on my blog. The original post has been edited/cleaned up a bit but its spirit remains.

One of the first things we knew we wanted to try in Japan was to stay in a traditional Japanese ryokan. We decided that our last day/night in Kyoto would be the best time so we could just chill and recharge our batteries before the insanity that is Tokyo.

The check-in for our ryokan was at 4pm so we checked out of our Airbnb in the morning, dropped our luggage off at the ryokan around 11am and went for one last walk around Kyoto. Elsie wanted to visit the Pokémon Center in Kyoto so we set off towards the Takashimaya department store. When we arrived it was around noon and both Elsie and I were hungry. It seems like the top floor of any commercial building in Japan is exclusively restaurants and this building was no exception. Since Elsie was going through pasta withdrawals we settled on a Japanese Italian restaurant which was OK. Copying Italian food does not seem to be a strong part of Japanese cuisine. After lunch we visited the Pokémon Center where Elsie loaded up on all the Kyoto exclusive merchandise she could find.

With our shopping hunger satiated we grabbed some coffee at Arabica (apparently Jarques' favorite coffee in all of Japan) which happened to have an English speaking barista who had emigrated from America. After chatting him up for a while we then indulged our sweet tooth with some french toast drizzled with chocolate, topped with bananas and a caramel affogato. It was heavenly.

With only an hour and a half until we could check-in to our ryokan we decided to listen to our aching feet and found a place to sit and relax while having a drink and playing some Monster Hunter X. After getting our butts handed to us by a ferocious Raizekusu it was 4pm and time to head over to the ryokan.

I cannot overstate how quaint and cute this ryokan was. It was run by an elderly couple and their children who were just so darn accommodating and patient. They also spoke the best English of any Japanese people we had met so far although they would not stop apologizing for their "poor" English. The mother showed us to our room where she performed a tea ceremony which consisted of the best green tea I had ever drank. Afterwards we settled down in our room and essentially went comatose until 7pm when dinner was served.

This dinner was without a doubt the most experimental meal I have ever had. It was a traditional Japanese dinner with multiple courses. The first course consisted of a piece of tofu, squid, sea bream and tuna sashimi followed by some bamboo shoots, sea snail, yuba and a green paste which had the same consistency as mochi. The second course was some sticky rice in a congealed sauce consisting of fish and eel. The third course was a piece of fresh grilled mackerel. The fourth was a tempura dish that was super tasty. The fifth was rice and miso soup with pickled vegetables. Finally, desert consisted of some fresh strawberries and grapefruit jelly. All of this was washed down by a nice bottle of dry cold sake. While I couldn't eat all of it (Japanese food can sometimes be too chewy for me) Elsie saved me and gobbled it all down without hesitation.

If you are going to visit Kyoto I highly recommend a stay at the Kikokuso ryokan.

After some more green tea to cleanse our palates it was time to try out a traditional Japanese bathhouse. A tiny little stone bath heated up to 45 degrees Celsius that opened up every single pore in our bodies. After about 15 minutes it was simply too hot so we toweled ourselves off and retreated to bed. We needed the best night's sleep we could get because tomorrow we head for the concrete jungle known as Tokyo.

I don't think we are prepared…