Posts Tagged ‘ Kyoto restaurants ’

Edo-Kyo (江戸京)

Edo-Kyo (江戸・京) is a sushi-sashimi restaurant tucked down at the bottom of some off-street stairs along San-Jo street in Kyoto.  To get to it begin at the several-storied CD & DVD store at the corner of Kawabata and San-jo. Walk down San-jo past The Pig & Whistle. Edo-Kyo just a couple dozen steps further, on the same side of San-Jo as the CD store and Pig & Whistle.  Look for the sign on your left, then go down the stairs, through the split curtains (“noren“) and through the door into the restaurant-proper.

Top of the stairs Edo-Kyo sign and entrance.

Top of the stairs Edo-Kyo sign and entrance.


Down the stairs. . .

Down the stairs. . .


Master sushi chef, Jun-san, welcomes all patrons. . .

Master sushi chef, Jun-san, welcomes all patrons. . .


Featured in a chapter of my upcoming book:

Edo-Kyo combined Tokyo’s old name “Edo” with the first half of “Kyoto”, designating a wide-ranging cuisine of sashimi and sushi and lightly grilled seafood.  It’s a single, white room with one long bar to the left and a with a contemporary calligraphic work spanning the entire, long wall to the patron’s right as they enter, having come down a set of stairs and through a door from the street above.  Cool jazz plays low and all chefs, servers and patrons speak in equally low, reserved voices – because you want to, not because you have to.  It’s a Comfortable Place, friendly and not pretentious.  There’s no fresher sushi in town.  It’s expensive, though.  I always had the vinegared octopus salad.  We both enjoyed the various cuts of tuna sashimi.  The flame-grilled scallop, with sea salt and lemon, is worth a trip to the other side of the world. . . .


And while, yes, the scene painted in the excerpt set out immediately above was one I shared with my former spouse, I’ve visited EdoKyo many times over the intervening years with Japanese friends, with the Chair of the Department of Criminal Justice at Texas Christian University, with the Executive Director of the Jackson County (Alabama) Economic Development Authority, the (now retired) President of Nippon Steel & Sumikin-Intercom, and various other friends and acquaintances.  EdoKyo’s simply a favorite spot and I’ll oh-so-lament the day I go and find out it’s no longer there.


AKB 48

This is not my magnum opus   “It’s My Last Night in Japan”  blog piece.  I probably won’t do that one until I’ve been back in the U.S. for several days, irony and time constraints being what they are.

But I felt compelled to post this one.  This was the last little watering hole I hit tonight, a place now familiar to me, “Harumi-ya,” there at the corner of San-jo and 花見小路道, not far back down San-jo from Kawabata dori.  This is the exterior of Harumi-ya:

Harumi-ya. Kyoto. August 2011.

And this is what was on TV there:

The audience in Harumi-ya were mezmerized:

The show is called “Exile 魂” (Exile Tamashii) and, yes, is a sort of Japanese version of “American Idol,” or it’s just an homage and tribute to All Girl Groups, or this one in particular, or something.  So it goes.

Harumi-ya is a Good Place with Good People. . .

.         .         .

Okariba ・ お借り場 

Over the course of the past year, since this site’s inception, I’ve several times referenced Okariba (Oh*kah*ree*bah) and its owner & chief cook, Aoki-san.  However it’s been more than 9 years since I first walked into Kyoto’s best, and, to me, what must be one of the world’s best, barbecue joints.

Sign in front of Okariba.


Okariba’s in Kyoto’s particularly quiet Okazaki District, situated on Marutamachi Street, just shy of where Marutamachi ends, running into Shirakawa Street, which runs parallel with Higashiyama, Kyoto’s eastern line of mountains.  “Okariba” means “hunting ground.”  The specialty of the house is grilled and sauced-up boar, but its menu goes deeper than that, ranging from smoked duck to steamed, gingered bear (yes, that’s beAr, not beEr).

Aoki-san at the grill. November ’09.

As you can tell from the photos, Okariba is intimate and rustic.  It’s cozy.  On slow nights its a place for a few regulars to gather and ease-into, or while away, an evening.  Couples come for good food and an atmosphere in which they can talk low, laugh at inside jokes with each other and compare lovers’ notes.  When groups —  of friends, nearby Kyoto University professors, families, or, in a couple of recent cases, American university students I’ve lead through Kyoto, etc.  — descend on Okariba, it can turn raucous, but always joyfully so.  The groups can also provide some entertainment for the lone wolves and couples, too.  I’ve been on both sides of that.


Okariba Entrance. November 2009


Okariba Menu & one of many sakes varieties on hand.


Back to the pork.  For a little more than US$14.00 you get 3 large wooden skewers-worth of hunks of pork that’s been grilled-up by Aoki-san, basted with a thick, brown miso bbq sauce that’s incredibly savory, somewhat tangy and slightly, ever-so-slightly sweet (but the smokeyness cancels-out most of that).  While one very hungry person can eat one order, but it’s enough for two.  Besides, you have to try the duck (which tastes astoundingly similar to “honey-baked ham”), the bear, a sampling of deer, and grilled fish (whatever’s in season).

New Snapshots, From August 2011. . .

Friends gather at Okariba. August 2011.


Deep into the evening… Okariba. August 2011.


Yours truly and Aoki-san, May 27, 2010.


Last month, May 2009, I was back in Okariba with another group of university students.  This time it was a group of MBA students from here in Alabama.  A good time was had by all.  And, as a bonus for me, I and one of my Japanese sisters (from home stay days back when I was a college student) arranged to meet at Okariba that same night, with Yuko bringing my Japanese mom and Yuko’s two young sons along.  My Japanese dad was under the weather and couldn’t make it, which I regretted terribly.  Worlds intermingled that night at Okariba and when Aoki-san brought out the snake-infused white lightening, then the hornet-infused stuff — apparently home made and stored in large clear glass jars — I knew that the students had truly been embraced by our host as new-but-most-welcomed friends, a kindness Aoki-san was, indeed, paying to me.

For several months I’ve been working on a story about my dear home stay family, from way back in 1984, and the way their and my lives have been intertwined for more than 25 years.  Hopefully I’ll have that completed within the next few weeks.


Another Okariba sidewalk sign.

.     .     .

Update – I neglected to mention that after the last morsel’s tasted and the last nigori-zake toast is made, after you settle-up your tab with Aoki-san, consider popping next to to Hanafusa coffee shop (touting itself as Kyoto’s first Siphon Coffee establishment), as clean and well-lighted and convivial a coffee shop as you’ll find anywhere.  Open from 7:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m.  Most all of the kindly staff there knows that my “usual” is Kilimanjaro, or “Kirimohn.”


Tag – this theme’s “it” for a while.

Earlier today LetsJapan.Wordpress.Com updated its appearance.  Those new to this site won’t know the difference.  For those who’ve visited over the past 10 months, since this site’s/blog’s launch, will notice right away that this “Monochrome” format (that’s what it’s called:  Monochrome), with its clean gray-black borders, really helps the photography stand out a whole lot better than the all-white site.

=  Note to those who found there way here via a Tag:  Feel free to use the site Search Engine (bottom right-hand side) and enter the term/tag/post/info you’re looking for.  One or more posts/stories/galleries, etc. should pop up for you. =

Also quite different (than just 24 hours ago):  the top of the page has very few tabs.  Now each photo gallery is clickable through the drop-down tab (GALLERIES) at the page top, as are the stories, via the STORIES drop-down tab.

Finally, I ought to note that a couple of weeks ago I made a Facebook page for LetsJapan.Wordpress.Com to keep Facebook aficionados updated on posts and featured galleries and stories here.  I’ve also started posting a few Facebook-only comments, features and photos on the LetsJapan.Wordpress.Com Facebook page.

A photo apropos to nothing in this post.  I took in in Kyoto this past November and, well, I like it.

Finally, I’m “tagging” this post with many of my photo gallery and story themes and post topics (below and in prior pages) in hopes that this or that random googler will stumble upon this site and what it has to — and will — offer.

Hope you enjoy . . .