The plan today was to go back to the East Kyoto area to walk around Maruyama Park (a popular local cherry blossom area) and also visit Kiyomizudera, a temple complex. Before we left our area, I went out for a quick jaunt around the area in South Kyoto (near Inari) while Wei Chiang, still recovering from his illness, rested. I checked out the nearby Marumo Bakery to get some bread. I really liked how pretty much all the bread was priced at 100 yen (108 yen after tax). And for gaijin like me, it had English labels for most breads. They even had chicken and beef burgers!
I still had a bit of time before Wei Chiang would wake up and we would go for lunch, so I decided to get my second breakfast from a nearby Lawson’s: everyone’s favourite chicken cutlet, with an iced coffee. The coffee was pretty alright for what you get from a convenience store, at a cheap price. And the chicken fillet was juicy! The konbini always delivers.
By the time I reached back from my morning walk, Wei Chiang was up and about ready to go. We got a simple and affordable lunch at Japanese diner in South Kyoto (tempura udon for him, curry rice for me).
Maruyama Park, like many places in Japan at this time, was pretty with cherry blossoms.
We also happened to be nearby yet another restaurant called Hisago where my friend recommended the oyakodon. I had never actually had good oyakodon in my life, so I felt we had to give it a try. It was reputed to have a long queue and crowded, but at around 3pm at that point, the place was completely empty, to our surprise. They also had an English menu available. Wei Chiang and I weren’t too hungry, so we tried to share a bowl of oyakodon (1010 yen), but they insisted that we get something each, so got a simple cheaper bowl of udon (560 yen).
Oyakodon may not look like much, but rice topped with soft egg and chicken morsels makes for a very satisfying and comforting meal. It was a really well-made oyakodon, although Wei Chiang did wonder why such a simple meal would cost so much.
When we were done eating, we made our way to Kiyomizudera. It costs 400 yen to enter. By then it was 4pm, and when we entered, we realised some segments closed at 5pm, and the entire place closed at 6pm. So that left us about 2 hours to explore the sprawling complex. However, ending up here close to the evening turned out well, as we were given a lovely westward view of the sun setting over the temple and the city of Kyoto at around 6pm. The temple custodians tried to chase us tourists out for closing, but many lingered as long as they could to enjoy the sunset.
Earlier, there was a segment of the complex where people could buy ema, or wooden plaques where they would write prayers with vows of love, and hang it up for the god of the temple to grant their wishes. I saw one of these wooden plaques clearly written by a Singaporean boy who yearned to be with a girl once he was done with National Service.
For dinner, Wei Chiang had heard of this tonkatsu place called Katsukura at Kyoto station, so we headed there. We waited in queue for what seemed like a long while. When we were finally seated, we were given sesame seeds that you grind then mix with some sauces to your own preferences as a dip for the meat that was coming. Preparing this sauce helped to kill some time and made the wait for the meat seem shorter. We had both got a set meal that came with a fried pork cutlet and a large tempura prawn, for a total damage of about 2280 yen. It might seem pricey, but I can say this was the best tonkatsu I have ever had, and the tempura was a surprise winner (succulent and large!) for a place renowned more for the pork cutlet. I also enjoyed the set meal perk of free flow miso soup, rice, and cabbage that rounded out the meal, so I definitely didn’t go hungry. If you ever go to Kyoto, you must eat here.