I actually found out about Gion Tokuya by surfing the Harajuku listings in Tokyo TimeOut, and the term ‘sweet parlour’ instantly got me hooked. The original branch is in Gion, the Geisha district in eastern/central Kyoto, and apparently typical queues for the original branch can go on for an hour. About Food in Japan talks about Meiko (Geisha in training) coming here for a tea time. At the time of writing the Harajuku branch was relatively quiet, although I don’t suppose it will stay like that for long! Located on the first floor of the new United Arrows building in Harajuku, which s rumoured to be due to the United Arrows Representative Director liked Tokuya so much he invited them to be part of the new development. Unlike my ‘Sweets Paradise’ post, the ‘sweets’ served at Tokuya are much more traditional. About Food in Japan talks about the special, Hanami Komochi, which consists of a set of mochi you cook over a braiser on your table and comes accompanied with five different ingredients which complement the mochi flavour. Oishii!
570-127 Minamigawa, Gioncho, Higashiyama, Kyoto, Kyoto
Gion-shijo station (Keihan Line), 075 561 5554
Tokuya Hon warabimochi ¥1,200; mochiyaki zensai ¥1,000; tea set (matcha green tea and cake) ¥800
Kyoto TimeOut listing is here
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B1F/1F 2-31-12 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo
Meiji-jingumae Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line) or Harajuku Station (JR Yamanote Line), 03 5772 6860
Mon-Fri 12noon-8pm; Sat-Sun, nat. holidays 11am-8pm / various holidays
Tokyo TimeOut listing is here
View Schuki in Japan in a larger map
Meaning “Pure Water Temple” the Kiyomizudera Temple is one of the most recognisable sights in Japan for its beautiful shrines and main hall stage which is suspended 13 meters above the hillside. A UNESCO world heritage site it is best visited in spring when you can view the cherry and maple trees in full bloom amidst the sites of Kyoto in the background. Jishu shrine sits behind the main hall and is dedicated to love and matchmaking. It is said that if you can find your way between the two stone pillars infront of the shrine with your eyes closed you will be lucky in love. You can also drink water from Otowa Waterfall to bring luck, see a three-story pagoda or wonder through the pitch black basement said to symbolize a mothers womb in the hall dedicated to Buddha’s mother. If you’re lucky enough to visit during mid-March or December you can experience the Hanatoro event where the temple and others in the area host evening illuminations. Full japan-guide.com article here (with complete directions) and a fantastic guide by sacred-destination.com here.
Beautiful photoblog of Jishu Shrine by Shibuya246 can be found here.
Hours: 6:00 to 18:00, Closed: No closing days, Admission: 300 yen
Spring and Fall Illumination: Hours: 18:30 to 21:30 (mid March to mid April and mid November to early December), Admission: 400 yen
A recommendation from the lovely XiXi at my office. She says you must spend a whole day here, it’s a bit of a distance from town centre, but well worth it.
Text below is from the amazing blog “Sacred Destinations“
What to See
Fushimi Inari is noted for its remarkable sight of some 10,000 small torii(shrine gates) that arch over a long path up the hill behind the shrine. It takes about two hours to walk along the whole trail, and there are nice views of Kyoto from the top.
Donated and inscribed by businesses and individuals thankful for their prosperity, the long tunnel of torii is one of the most iconic visions of Kyoto.
If possible, visit Furshimi Inari near dusk — you’ll be much more likely to wander alone through the tunnels of torii in the quiet woods, which is a magical experience as daylight fades.
Foxes are said to be the messengers of Inari, and stern bronze foxes (kitsune) can be seen throughout the shrine. Inari’s foxes are generally considered helpful, but they have also been said to bewitch people. The keys that some of them hold in their mouths are for the rice granaries.
Along the hiking trail, small restaurants serve Kitsune Udon (“Fox Udon”), a noodle soup topped with pieces of aburaage (fried tofu), a treat favored by foxes. You can also try Inari sushi, which is fried tofu wrapped around sweetened rice.