Day 15 — 12 August 2010
On our final day in Osaka we finally managed to find the coffee shop we’d tried to locate a few days earlier. You can find Vade Mecum by the tennis courts on Utsubo Park (near Hommachi tube station) and they do serve a rather good coffee in a quite strange and sterile environment. I’m not entirely sure it was worth the wait (or the daily pilgrimage to see if it was open), but I’d have been annoyed for literally minutes if we’d not made it.
One of the great things about shopping in Japan is its ability to please both fashionistas and art/architecture geeks. COSMIC WONDER Light Source is the fashion arm of a multi-media art project initiated in 1997 by artist Yukinori Maeda, with their showrooms described as ‘a shelter from the daily march of time, where visitors can share the experience of drifting along with the flow of sounds in the universe’. Wild.
The time came to leave for a week’s stay in Kyōto, so we picked our bags up and lugged them to the train station for the short hop east. In a moment of exquisite timing, the heavens opened just as we pulled in to Kyōto station thwarting our plans to walk to the apartment we were renting for the week. Taxis in Japan are hilarious, the drivers wear white gloves and the interior of every taxi we took was shrink wrapped with clear plastic and littered with doilies.
Once our driver had found the apartment we were renting, we decided — as we had access to a kitchen for the first time in a fortnight — to cook something at home and eat-in. It was around this time we began to understand what my friend Ben had told us in Tokyo: that eating-in rather than eating-out was the most expensive way to dine in Japan. We decided to cook sweet chilli chicken with some rice and potato wedges; for the same price as the ingredients required we could probably have eaten out for a couple of days. The second stumbling block was the conspicuous absence of an oven in the apartment we were renting — making home-made potato wedges a little difficult to cook.
I’m no cooking-equipment snob (actually I am, but let’s forget that for now) but I really struggled with the wafer thin frying pan and lack of basic condiments in the house (it was too much to assume there must be salt in the cupboards).
We went to bed planning our next day — there’s only one thing to do when in Kyoto and that’s trapse around as many shrines as humanly possible. With two of the biggies nearby, we were going to need our sleep!