We took a short rest at our hotel after getting back from Nanzen-ji, then walked down to get udon for dinner at Omen a few blocks away. This was the best udon I have ever had, and a fantastic meal all around. Dan and I each ordered hot noodles with udon, plus a plate of grilled chicken with green peppers to share. The udon came with the broth by itself in a bowl, and a plate full of gobo, daikon, and greens to mix in. The noodles were served separately for dipping. The finishing touch was a small bowl of ground sesame seeds to sprinkle in – wow, that tasted good! The chicken was succulent and delicious, too. For dessert, we tried some jiggly wheat dumplings that were a bit like gelatin, and hard to pick up with chopsticks. They didn’t have a lot of flavor on their own, but came with a really good molasses-based dipping sauce. The combination of that taste and the dumpling texture was very enjoyable.
After dinner, we walked back through the neighborhood towards our hotel and then beyond, stopping to photograph the illuminated cherry trees along the way. We continued on past Maruyama Park and crossed the Kamogawa river to Panto-Cho. This narrow alley with old-style buildings that now house bars and restaurants is a popular recommendation for experiencing nightlife in Kyoto, but it didn’t really grab us. We bypassed the young women passing out cards for hostess bars (they weren’t offering them to us), walked a bit more through the surrounding neighborhood, and then made our way back to the hotel.
Staying in the Gion district was a good choice for us. Although it is popular with tourists, we found it to be picturesque and not overly crowded, and very pleasant to explore on foot. This was my first real taste of Japan, and I enjoyed the small details of how people kept their homes and made the exteriors lovely.