We headed out straight away to get some lunch, having read about a recommended ramen noodle place nearby. We were trying to eat something different for each meal, and were doing pretty well so far. The restaurant (Ramen Kairikiya Kawaharamachi Sanjo) was brightly lit but extremely welcoming (the Japanese sure do screech at you when you arrive or leave a restaurant!). We both ordered the same - ramen noodles with egg and pork, which arrived swiftly. Our run of delicious food was continuing; it was very tasty, particularly the marinated soft-boiled egg.
After lunch we took the Tozai Line out to the bottom of the Philosopher's Path at Keage; we took the opportunity to do the walk as the weather was pretty good and it was forecast to rain on-and-off for the following few days. Umbrellas were packed just in case. We started off by walking down to Nanzen-ji, a large complex with various different temples and shrines.
We passed a strange little shrine at the side of the Path, comprised of ten large stones, adorned with little aprons, with a small ramekin dish at their feet, presumably to collect offerings.
As we left we encountered our first group of schoolchildren who stopped to ask us questions. They were probably around 14 or 15, mixed genders, and took it in turns to ask us questions (like "where are you from?", "what is your favourite place in Japan", etc). They all giggled as we answered enthusiastically, not sure if they could even understand anything other than the questions on their papers. At the end they took a photo of us, so I took one of them too; obviously they all did the peace sign with their fingers.
We headed back down the hill, past more women in geisha outfits (some of them could have been genuine, I suppose), and back down the Philosopher's Path towards Nanzen-ji. We passed a couple of temples, and an area full of cats.
In spite of the intermittent light showers it was very hot and muggy, so we were grateful for regular vending machines, giving us the chance to try out a few of the offerings to quench our thirst. At the end of the path we wandered back through the Nanzen-ji temple area, hoping to go up one storey to get a view, but we were too late; it was closed. The trees in the complex were beautiful.
We took the train back to the hotel, where we rested for a bit and dug through TripAdvisor for a good local place to eat. The one that stood out was a sushi restaurant called Sushi Tetsu Pontocho, which was only a few streets away, tucked away down one of the alleyways that make up the area. We arrived at around 7.30pm and there was already a queue outside, but given that it was highly recommended we decided to wait. We didn't get in for about 45 minutes, but it was worth the wait. It was our first sushi in Japan on this trip, and it was very good quality, and cheap too (although the place had a small cover charge). We sat at the bar and watched our personal chef prepare our sushi, sashimi and California rolls, then devoured it all very quickly, washed down with a small carafe of sake (it was a quiet one after a little too much beer the previous night).
After we left we explored the little alleys and canals that make up the Pontocho area. It wasn't quite as sleazy as I'd remembered, although there were still pimp-looking men standing outside sketchy-looking bars along the canal-side. I couldn't quite work out what some of the bars were offering...
After wandering around for about an hour, feeling as if we were prying into a rather different world, we headed home, both feeling a little exhausted.
Click here for blog on Day 2 - Osaka
Click here for blog on Day 4 - Kyoto - Kinkaku-ji, Ryoan-ji, Arashiyama & Gion