Japan holiday – day 9 – temples, knives, fabrics and trains

Our last day in Kyoto, I really like Kyoto and was sad our time was so short here this time. With our bags lockered at the station I had us heading off to a temple that had a long archery history…unfortunately I was about 5km out and had us heading to the wrong shrine. Oops. Once we realised it was the wrong one we walked down the street and visited a bike shop we’d spotted and then headed back into the main part of the city.

When we’d come through the Nishiki markets we’d seen Artisugu and to say they makes knives is somewhat of an understatement.

Originally they were sword makers and as demand for swords diminished they started making kitchenwares. The family is now in it’s 18th generation of making and selling knives. After deciding we couldn’t buy the entire store we settled on a vegetable knife. Once you’ve made your selection it is taken away and sharpened for you while you are taught the proper ways of using, cleaning and maintaining your knife.

Our knife being sharpened

The array of knives was just amazing and this stunning soba knife caught my eye. Maybe next time we go I’ll have learnt to make fresh soba and can bring one of these back?

It’s place like Aritsugu that I love finding when travelling. To see people passionate about what they do and making outstanding quality products in traditional ways it’s just so great to see and learn.

Not far from the food markets we came across possibly the coolest cafe ever.

It was a cat cafe! A cafe where you pay to go in and play with the cats and kittens! Started because too many people wanted pets but lived somewhere too small to have them the cat cafes allow you to come and play with the animals.

The cats all looked very happy, well fed and looked after. It was about 1500yen for half an hour of playtime with the cats.

After looking at the cats we headed towards the fabric store. I’d done a quick scout through earlier in the week and picked up some patterns and books and this time had a list of what I’d like to get fabric wise. I’ll do a separate post about all things fabric and patterns but let’s just say that store is fantastic! The staff were super helpful and I got all that I needed even if a lovely lady had to help translate a bit for me.

Japanese fabrics! eep!

After the fabric shopping we made our way to the correct temple. The Sanjusangen-do Temple consists of a long wooden hall that houses over 1000 statues most of which are national treasures. You can’t take photos of the statues of all the deities inside the hall and it’s kind of nice to just walk through and experience them all.

The other side of the hall has displays telling of it’s history, how it was built and the stories of it’s archery tournaments. Huge tournaments were held on the verandah with archers at one end shooting towards the other. There were so many arrows shot it made the wood resemble porcupine quills not roof beams. Even now tournaments are still held in the grounds each year.

 

From there we made our way back to Kyoto Station to catch our Shinkansen back to Tokyo. But not before we did a spot of trainspotting and took some photos of the amazing bullet trains.

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