The lunch set at Imobou, this tiny restaurant on the northern edge of Maruyama Park in Kyoto. The place has been there for generations, and it’s famous for the dish on the lower left: a kind of boiled potato with dried cod. I dutifully ate it, but it had a strange musty taste. Uh, not my fave. The tororo paste (a sticky, vaguely spicy root that’s often pureed and served with soba) wrapped in nori and served in chilled dashi (upper right corner) was my favorite thing on the tray. Tasted good with tea.

Eating in Kyoto

Imobou was a nice pitstop on a rainy day. Across the street, the park was full of noisy crows that we watched through the window. These birds were as big as dogs -- I should've taken a picture of them.

Later, this was my snack at a miniscule teahouse – a hot bowl of matcha and some sweet red beans, served chilled. I drank matcha pretty much every chance I got, then walked around, all wired.

I love the random stuff you encounter walking down the street. Here, a ballroom dancing gown store gave me a giggle.

Higashi Honganji Temple, in the rain. I can’t tell you how glad I was that I brought my pointy-toed go-go rainboots to Japan . . .$250 boots I got marked down at Neiman Marcus Last Call, which nobody in AZ would've wanted. Sweet.

Gion, a neighborhood famous for its geisha houses, was supposed to be having its huge annual festival, but things were pretty much rained out that night. Still, I wandered around the dark, deserted streets and saw three geisha in the span of about 15 minutes. I practically ran into one of them as she came around from the other side of a shrine I was passing. I’m sure all the maiko-san (the geisha-in-training, who wear bright colors and white face paint) had to stay inside so their makeup wouldn’t melt. Anyway, the rain was starting to feel chilly, and my stomach was rumbling, so I ducked into Mimasuya, on the narrow, pedestrian-only street running down Pontocho. The restaurant served modern Kyoto cuisine and local sake. Here’s some lovely duck with eggplant (the ubiquitous summer vegetable in Japan), peppers, and sesame seeds.

A piping hot gratin with scallops and nama-fu (soft, kind of chewy wheat gluten that I have a thing for).

The next night, I had dinner served in my room. They didn’t give me a menu or I.D. anything for me, but I’ve eaten enough of this stuff before to figure out what most of it was. Clockwise, from the top: Ayu (a kind of river fish) wrapped in leaves, served with a bright pink ginger shoot; sashimi; a pickled fish and cucumbers, with fish wrapped in yuba (tofu skin); pickles; a mystery dish . . .

The mystery dish revealed: Anago (eel) wrapped around cooked gobo (in front), with eggplant-shaped pieces of green and pink nama-fu (they usually serve fu in seasonal shapes and colors). Underneath, there’s another piece of fu, and some eggplant, topped with katsuo-bushi (shaved dried bonito). A few cups of sake equals blurry photo, sorry . . .

A simple soup: clear broth with a tender piece of hamo (this awesome, fluffy fish that’s in season during the summer – it’s bony, so they prepare it with lots of tiny cuts) and a sprig of mitsuba, a refreshing herb, kind of like parsley.

I saw this critter on the roof of a temple, and it made me smile.

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