After finally meeting the ramen buddha, it was time to just relax, take in the sun, and enjoy a few traditional bowls on my last day in Kyoto. The weather couldn't have been more fantastic.
After being denied entrance last night when they had run out of soup, Michael and I went back to Tonryu (東龍) for lunch to try their magical Tonryu Soba.
But first we ordered some of their handmade gyoza to cleanse our palates.
The Tonryu Soba was well worth the wait. It's a tonkotsu-torigara blend that is smooth and somewhat creamy. It's like a divine chicken soup with noodles.
Divine chicken soup with noodles. Sorry, had to say it again.
The egg was divine as well. I'm starting to like my eggs without too much of a distinct flavor. The subtle shoyu flavor goes well with this ramen. I could see myself visiting Tonryu again someday.
After lunch, Michael and Lani took me to a famous manju shop called Demachi Futaba.
Apparently they are very popular and lines tend to form throughout the day.
In the back room you can see the old masters at work pounding away at the mochi.
To further enjoy this beautiful day, we decided to relax along the Kamo river.
And munch on our fresh mame-manju's.
The sky was picturesque.
But it was time to move on. There were still lots of sights to see.
The Shimogamo Shrine was nearby so we decided to go check it out.
Experiencing history like this is unimaginable. Like Michael said, normal people were never allowed entrance into these shrines long ago. So being able to witness this now is awe inspiring.
Just outside the Shimogamo Shrine is one of the seven mysteries of Kyoto. This tree begins as two trees and then grows into each other as they become one. It symbolizes relationship and is said to be good luck among lovers. When a tree like this dies, it is said another one appears in the same grove shortly after.
Alright, now it's time to chase down history...some ramen history, that is. Masutani (中華そば ますたに 今出川店) has been around for years. Along with Tenka Ippin and the shops you will see later in this post, Masutani is a Kyoto legend. Unfortunately, it was the main shop's day off.
But just around the corner is another Masutani (中華そば ますたに 白川店) that appears to be related. It couldn't be that different, right?
Masutani's ramen is a tonkotsu-shoyu style with lots of pork back-fat floating on top. The ramen is a bit on the salty side, but it's not a bad bowl.
The noodles are thin and easy to slurp, but I couldn't help but wonder how this compares to the original shop. Someday I'll have to go back and try it.
With the hours counting down, Michael decided to give me one last tour of Yoshida hill and the shrines that encompass his home neighborhood. This used to be Michael's route to school everyday when he was a kid. Isn't it awesome?!
One of the most important shrines on this hill is the Yamakage Shrine, dedicated to the god of food. Being a food person, I had to make a prayer at this one.
The main Yoshida Shrine is actually considered a very spiritual place. It is where Fujiwara Yamakage summoned the four gods as guardian deities of Kyoto. It's also the sight of the Setsubun festival, "a traditional event intended to drive away evil spirits."
There's also a shrine dedicated to the god of sweets, the Kaso Shrine.
Speaking of sweets, it was time to head back and enjoy one last manju before I had to hit the road. I can't thank Michael and Lani enough for making this trip possible. I never could have imagined that I would be able to experience Kyoto like this and have a place to stay for free. Even though I don't make any money from my blog, I get to make friendships and that's worth more than money. Thank you so much, Michaeal and Lani!
After saying my goodbye's, it was time to head to Kyoto station so I could take the night bus back to Tokyo. But I still had time for one more bowl....(maybe two?) Within a stones throw from Kyoto station, two of the oldest ramen shops in town are situated right next to each other. Shinpukusaikan (新福菜館 本店), on the right, and Honke Taiichi Asahi (本家第一旭 たかばし本店), on the left.
With both looking equally satisfying, I was attracted by the darkness of Shinpukusaikan and decided to try them instead.
A deep, deep shoyu flavor, just how I like it. It's almost like drinking pure shoyu. haha. This ramen is definitely something.
I could probably eat this bowl everyday. The way the noodles soak up and get stained by the broth is amazing.
Being borderline full, I decided to step into Honke Taiichi Asahi and order another bowl. You didn't think I'd pass them up, did you? It's not everyday that I get to be in Kyoto and I wasn't gonna miss out on either of these legends.
Asahi's bowl is a lot lighter than Shinpuku's, as you can tell, but it's also...better.
Honestly, I think I prefer this bowl instead. The noodles are virtually the same in texture, not to mention the msg content, but Asahi's bowl is extremely refreshing. As full as I was, I ate the entire thing with pride.
Now it's time to wait for my night bus for a 7-hour ride back to Tokyo. Madness...