Sunday, March 20, 2011

Kasagiya, Kyoto (かさぎ屋)

If you were only going to eat old-fashioned Japanese-style tea and sweets once, this would be the place. It's not because there's anything marvelous about the food or drink. It's because there are so few places where you can duck off an insanely picturesque street (Ninenzaka, near Kiyomizu Temple) and immediately enter another, quieter world. While tourists shuffle by, crowded despite the soft rain, everything's serene in here.
It's really something. Did you see the stickers all over the wooden frame of the room, left by 'pilgrims' of one type or another? Usually this is done at shrines and temples, but it's a nice touch.

Another nice touch is the way that the staff were preparing a tray of takeout tea and sweets for a nearby shop. Seeing that was a little flash of insight into the lives of the people that actually live and work here, not just those who tour. Likewise the placid conversation between an older woman who detailed her day to the waitress: "I was sitting at home all day, watching TV and getting depressed, and eventually I thought, 'Well, why I don't I come here for a nice cup of tea and something sweet."

I'm not even gonna mention the matcha and rice 'n' bean desserts.

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