Asia,  Japan,  Kyoto,  TDM,  Travel Journal

Travel Diary Kyoto (Japan) #4: Nishiki’s market, Cat Cafe

I was telling you briefly the last time we went to the Nishiki market in Kyoto. I will tell you more about it in this article

Read my other travel diaries to Kyoto (#1, #2 and #3)

I didn’t want to go at first, but my opinion changed after I met a Malaysian woman on a bus in Kyoto. She travels without a smartphone, without 3G/4G, just with a map of Kyoto given by her hostel, which, moreover, is in Japanese. As a result, she is completely lost. Her only landmark is the Nishiki market which isn’t far from her hostel, but she does not see it from the bus. I admire this lady because not only she took the right bus but also the bus that goes in the right direction. And moreover, she spotted me, in spite of my very Japanese head, I speak English and I have the 4G. She has the flair as they say

Anyway, all this to say that this lady told me so much good about this market that I noticed to go there later. And I liked it too much!

It’s very small, it’s a small street not very wide and covered, about 500m long. But all the stores on both sides sell things that interest a maximum of tourists: skewers, mochis, souvenirs of all kinds, pickled vegetables to eat with rice, typical pastries of Kyoto … everything is tempting!

The advantage of this market is that the sellers, so accustomed to tourists, speak English! This is rare in Japan! There aren’t so many restaurants where you can sit down (5 or 6 ? most of them at the back of the store, or upstairs), but you can eat standing in front of the store where you bought street food (it is marked everywhere that you should not buy in a store and eat in front of other stores)

JB and I choose to settle down in a mochi store restaurant because their bento gives me too much envy

We don’t take that many bento in Osaka because they don’t have a good head, but the ones in Kyoto tell us so. They only sell 20 bentos like that per day and today is our lucky day because there are still some left for us. The store also sells other dishes (ramen, udon…)

In my opinion, it must be more authentic than anything we’ve been served so far… because we don’t like it too much 😀 Well, these aren’t things we’re used to eating, especially Yuba (a thin film that forms when we boil soy milk), when we eat it alone it’s not very good but with soy sauce it’s delicious (for me anyway, JB hates it). We also have a soup that looks like miso soup but isn’t. And surprise: inside is a sticky rice cake

The cake wrapped in the leaf you see on the right is sakura mochi (mochi wrapped in a sakura leaf – the leaf, like the flower, is edible)

Little surprise: this isn’t sweet, it is a mixture of salt and pepper

When you go out of the market, you come across a temple and then a shopping mall with lots of quality souvenir stores

They all sell large square fabrics called Furoshiki which are used to wrap things: a bento, a bottle… or to be used as a scarf

Or the famous super expensive handmade Japanese dolls..

I spot a coffee cat, supposedly “the first Bengal coffee cat” in the world. Bengal cats are crossed cats (x generations ago) with wild cats, they have a particular coat and look like leopards. And they are very expensive. I dreamed to have one, but as ethically I don’t want to buy them from breeders, and that abandoned Bengal cats don’t run the streets, I ended up adopting Rosalie, my darling of love, alley cat but beautiful (and bitchy) like a princess

Here there are, as the name suggests, only Bengal cats in this tiny 5m2 café. Admission costs 750yen for 30 minutes, including a drink

The girl at the front desk puts antiseptic gel in my hands and advises me to put my coat on my knees so that the cats can come to sleep. Apparently my legs offer less space and are less comfortable than those of my neighbors so they prefer to sleep on them 😀

Next to a super-player cat destroyed, with the tourists’ consent, bags and clothes

In spite of the conscientious side of Japanese people, cat cafes are still places where cats are exploited, huh. No cat cafe I’ve liked so far, whatever the country, I think I’m going to stop going there

Here the tourists leave every 30 minutes so the cats are awake every 30 minutes. There are no other bunks than the guests’ knees, so when they don’t find comfortable places, they look lost the poor. Cats that want to be quiet climb trees, but the girl at the reception desk still comes to get them after 10 minutes to play with the clients. There are just two balls lying around in a corner, no toys to stimulate the cats. Then they are beautiful, healthy, with shiny hair. I don’t think they are mistreated, but the conditions aren’t ideal for them either

We are 1 week after the full bloom and Kyoto has transformed since our last visit. There are no more cherry blossoms, all the flowers have fallen and replaced by small leaves. I think with a lot of sorrow of those who planned their trip to Japan and miss the full bloom by a few days, just because the weather is nice this year and the cherry trees are blooming earlier. I really advise you to come here 2 weeks in a row to be sure to see the full bloom somewhere in Japan because the full bloom vs. before/after bloom, but that has nothing to do with it


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