Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lift Off! Japan


At this precise moment, the Tea Drinker and I are settled into our seats on ANA Airlines headed to Japan (at least, I hope we are). Last night, I forwarded a detailed itinerary to our parents confirming that I am indeed neurotic. I went overboard a bit with listing every street corner in Japan, and the closest 'something or other' to it. But, I am a believer that one should know where the closest ice cream shop, bar, restaurant, bathroom, ATM machine, tea shop, historic monument, and subway station is located at all times, in any city. So, I have listed every detail, and I mean every detail.

Here is an excerpt from our itinerary: "TOKYO: Breakfast Ice Cream Treat: Kinozen located in Kagaurazaka-one of the cities popular kanmidokoro. Located just next door to Fujiya, Kinozen. Often has a line out the front door. Their signature dish is a modern mattcha babaloa. The babaloa made from Uji mattcha is delicate with tsubuan (chunky azuki) and whipped cream is a nice ensemble of flavors and textures. The kakigori in the summer of shaved ice colored with flavored syrups are irresistible and offer a despite from the heat and humidity. There is also a selection of items to go, including the mattcha babaloa”.

Not convinced? KYOTO: “Kiyomizudera can be reached from Kyoto Station in about 15 minutes by bus. Take bus number 100 or 206 and get off at Kiyomizu-michi or Gojo-zaka, from where it is a 10-15 minute uphill walk to the temple. Start at Chawan-zaka(Tea pot lane), Kiyomizu-dera Temple(pg 338), then Tainai-meguri, and Sannen-zaka-(many tea houses/cafes), Ninen-zaka(pg 351), then Ishibei-koji( cobbled street) retrace steps continue north, passing Kodai-ji Temple(pg 351) on right up long flight stairs-to T intersection –turn right, keep left, descend into Maruyama-koen( park), see Giant Gion Tree, opposite tree, cross bridge(picnic?), head West(downhill) into Yasaka-jinja shrine to walk to Keihan-shijio station. Or head back to park. "

Certifiable! UJI : “To-kichi Nakamura cafe→Travel time:13:00 - 14:30. Established in 1859, this historic tea shop contains a cafe serving tea soba noodles and matcha sweets. Shop address: :10-1, Uji Uji-City. Access: 1-min walk from JR Uji Station. Tel: 0774-22-7800. Cost: around 1000 yen. Nearby a chicken shop that runs a sake cellar and offers a rich variety of foods that go well with sake. Stored near the entrance to the parking lot is the "Shirakusui" water which is used for sake, and visitors are welcome to try both the water and sake. Refreshing drinks to taste, if we have a have a few moments to spare.”

So, indulge me, and check back often for posts about Drink the Leaf's cultural and tea buying trip to Japan, or at least check in to see if I have finally gone bonkers. There are many highlights to look forward to:

  • Three days in Tokyo- a bustling city with many restaurants, shops, loads of people, a world-renowned sushi market, and the ever popular “cat” cafes(different building than sushi market).

  • A full day in the tea region of Shizuoka( producing 45% of Japan's tea) to visit a well known tea estate and meet with tea producers, farmers, and experience the wonderful lure of drinking Japanese green tea, such as Sencha and Genmaicha.

  • Five days in the mesmerizing Kyoto- a full itinerary of shrines, food markets, monkeys, tea, shrines, more tea, and even more shrines.

  • A side day trip to the Uji tea region to sip on Gyokuro.

  • Take the “bullet” to the city of Hiroshima to take in a sobering experience of our world's history. Recharge and rejuvenate with a visit to the neighboring majestic island, Miyajima for the night.

  • And, finally end our trip back in Tokyo for a day and evening of gastronomical delights.
Peak into the life of a Tea Drinker soon...


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