Friday, February 24, 2017

Tea House Japanese Style

On the grounds of a large park south of Kyoto 
(a short trip on the train) there is a 
traditional tea house.

On earlier business trips to Japan I had attended a 'tea ceremony' for tourists.  But this was a building in a garden without signage.
this would be a new experience and I was the ONLY non Japanese patron.

Peeking through the doorway I questioned if this tea house was open to the public

I was greeted pleasantly by an attendant and show an 'English' version of the offerings.
You pay before entering for the type of tea (hot or cold) you wish to order.

Many of the visitors to the park on this Sunday wore their traditional kimonos.
I left my shoes at the entrance in a cubical supplied for guests.

The building was much larger than I expected from the entrance.  

The perfect garden is on display from the glassed in room where we all were seated

                There were many tatami rooms in this tea house and the largest overlooked the garden.

The tea room was large and open.  A platform covered most of the room and was covered with a thick tatami mat.   There was NO seating so a westerner not accustomed to sitting on their knees for a long period of time might have a problem.

I had never tried cold, green tea so I selected this and one of the bean sweets offered.  It was delivered with a glass of water on a tray for each visitor.

As I sipped the smooth, cold tea and sampled the bean sweet, a light rain started.
The sound was very tranquil and soothing.    I could easily see why someone would visit a tea house instead of the local fast food dispenser.

I must mention some other observations:    I expected this to be a very quiet event.  This was not the case.  There were only 6 or 8 other clients.  There were no other solo visitors.   The two women seen in the photo above sat and chatted with each other and took photos of each other.*  This is something I witnessed in the park.   EVERYONE took photos of themselves or each other.
The group of four however, were very boisterous and spoke in loud voices.  This surprised me.  But again this was a totally Japanese experience and perhaps it was more authentic than other tourist stops.

Finally I will admit that within a few minutes my muscles were screaming 'where is a chair?".  Even leaning against a wall did not eliminate all the pain.     Sitting in front of a computer for months before the trip did not prepare me for the Japanese way.

* photos of the back of your head:  I have read that the nape of the neck is an area of beauty and certainly many of the hair styles worn with a kimono highlights the back of your head.

I do not remember the cost of tea but it was not over $20.00 per person.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Every leaf in place .............

Amazing gardens around the Palace in Kyoto

Japan on a rainy day

Even the storm drains have artistic covers

Kyoto Japan, a simple tea bowl

Kyoto, Japan  2016
Japan is well known for hand made items that are simple yet beautiful.   Walking the streets of each town vs taking a tour bus allows me to stop and see both local stores and small treasure troves of local life.

I stopped at the doorway of a small, dark store that sold tea bowls, tea pots and other ceramic items.

I met the owner of the shop who was just as happy to sell me a small, inexpensive tea bowl as one of the tea posts priced at over $600!    We could not talk with each other because I do not speak Japanese, but a smile goes a long way.

Simple displays highlight each piece for style or color.

My single bowl was very carefully wrapped.  The owner knew I was a traveler and took extra care to wrap the bowl in bubble wrap.       I found the tatami platform he worked at (after removing his shoes)  so Japanese!

Just down the street was another ceramic shop.     This shop featured tables of items by price.  An interesting alternative approach.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

NY Cheese cake beware there is competiton

The Uncle Testu location in Sydney, Australia
Who is Uncle Tetsu?   
I thought Italian cheese cake was the historic best

Walking in Sydney, Australian I found a crowd outside of a restaurant or was it a store?    The line was similar to a group waiting to enter a club or a major sale in a high end store.   All ages and all sizes.   

They are lining up for the opportunity to purchase ONE cheesecake.

I had to do some research to find out WHY this cheesecake was so popular

$17.99 for a smallish cheese cake.  Not too expensive but how does ONE person eat an entire cheesecake?    There were  no alternatives to purchase a slice or 1/2.

The space is not that large to produce hundreds of cakes but there is a well trained army of workers, each with an assigned task:  from cutting butter into slabs,mixing batter or pouring into pans.

History of Uncle Tetsu Cheese Cake  I have found online since I could not speak with any of the employees here, they were all behind glass!   see

"Helping in his parents 'sweets business' since the age of 5, Tetsu worked in the food industry for decades.   Among other restaurants and bakeries  Uncle Tetsu created cheesecake in Hakata.  The article notes that Tetsu started to use an Australian cheese to bake his cakes."    Perhaps this is why the line in Sydney was so long!

"The cakes are described as super soft, rich and flavorful". 

Their web site lists location in Toronto so I may have another opportunity to try one...

Have you had this Japanese cheesecake?

Boon Hall outside of Charelston, SC

 Boon Hall Plantation
Off season you won't have crowds but most of the venues will NOT be open.
Everyone visits this plantation to see the driveway with 100 yrs odf oaks and the moss

Looking forward to the renovation that will be a reastaurant?