I regularly buy flavored soy milk in little sippy cartons. It recently occurred to me that this might seem like a weird thing to someone outside of Japan. These little boxes of protein and sugar are probably meant for children, but I can only really understand six-year olds so by the transitive property it works.
In Japan flavors change with the seasons, and autumn reigns supreme. I arrived back in Tokyo to flavors of sweet potato, pumpkin (actually, kabocha), hazelnut and persimmon. So when I saw the grilled sweet potato flavored soy milk, of course I bought it.
From left to right that’s yaki-imo (grilled sweet potato), banana, coffee malt, and strawberry. Other common flavors include black tea, matcha, vanilla ice cream, grapefruit, delicious plain, and fruity mix. My favorites are the less expected flavors, black sesame and kinako (roasted soybean powder). Perhaps these flavors sound strange, but in Japan they are commonly associated with sweets. So really, I’m just drinking candy.
Kyoto is so beautiful it almost makes me mad.
But since we’re being totally honest with each other, I’ll admit I was the most excited by this sight:
Black sesame and honey ice cream. With a gingersnap spoon. I shoved it into everyone’s face, insisting they must try the Most Delicious Ice Cream Combo, until I realized that meant less for me. So I sneaked away to lick my cone clean in the dark shadows of a shrine.
We opted for the kaiseki meal in our ryokan, which meant dinner while wearing our pajamas and yukata (cotton robes). While our server delicately described the seasonal components and zen balance of each dish, I was busy taking photos and so I had no idea what I was eating. Vegetable or fish? Who cares! It’s boiled!
It was great, but it made my mouth tired.
Our ryokan also served us breakfast, with amazing little pillow-like cubes of tofu.
I love Japanese breakfasts. I’ll take some rice and grilled fish over an omelet any day.
On our way out of town we stopped for lunch at Katsukura, a tonkatsu (fried pork) restaurant in Kyoto Station.
The sorta-trendy restaurant serves you sesame seeds with a small mortar and pestle, to grind and add sauce to for dipping. I did it wrong. Who knew you could be so uncouth at a fried meat restaurant?
In case anyone is curious we stayed at the lovely, not-too-fancy Ryokan Motonago. The tonkatsu restaurant is located in the JR Kyoto Station, The Cube, 11F (above Isetan).