Pâtisserie Henri Charpentier (PHC) is easily the most “accessible” french bakery in Japan, with many takeaway outlets in depachikas of the major departmental stores like Isetan, Daimaru and Takashimaya, all over Japan. In fact, I don’t recall not seeing them at any of the departmental stores we went to! If one is forced to draw comparisons, PHC is like BreadTalk in Singapore, only that the former is much much much much much much…better, especially for a pastry junkie like me!
As we were on our way, leaving Gion to cross Kamogawa for Takashimaya Kyoto, we chanced upon our first french pastry shop in Kyoto, Pâtisserie Gion Sakai. Amidst the traditional Japanese architectural infrastructure of this part of the ancient city which beared two-storey shophouses with wooden framed doors, this establishment seemed like the most unexpecting and perhaps awkward juxtaposition. Nonetheless, we are glad that we have found it.
We took a bus from Arashiyama back to Central Kyoto and boy oh boy was it a long journey. The bus weaved through the numerous streets of Kyoto which we probably won’t have known or visited otherwise. We stopped around Gion-Shijo area and walked down to Hanamikoji 花見小路 for some geisha spotting!
After visiting Tenryuji and a walk through the Sagano Bamboo Groves, we found ourselves back onto the main street of Arashiyama where we were treated with a rare sight, even in Japan – a female rickshaw puller. We only saw another one a couple of days later in Nara. She was all smiles to everyone along the way but did not go about touting her services actively unlike the others around. Couldn’t resist a candid shot of her.
Prior to our trip, we did some info-scouting on tripadvisor and we had some wonderful advice from the good people there. One person I really want to pay tribute to is Kobekeith, an expert for the Kansai region on the website forum. His recommendations and suggestions were really superb and helped us a lot in planning our own itinerary.
After Otagi Nenbutsu-Ji, we took a cab back down to Arashiyama station. The walk back downtown is quite a long one and we didn’t want to upset the schedule for the rest of the day. We saw a cab “straying” around the area when we were waiting at the bus stop and we flagged frantically to catch the driver’s attention. I’m pretty sure he was as glad to have chanced upon us as we’d found him!
Day 3 in Japan started early, checking out of the hotel in Osaka before daylight and making our way to Kyoto. The weather was biting cold and even started to snow! Alas everything went on rather smoothly. After checking in at Kyoto Kokusai Hotel opposite Nijo castle, we headed westwards for Arashiyama. Our first stop was somewhat off the beaten track. A rather quiet temple within the hills of Sagano, 愛宕念仏寺 Otaginenbutsu-ji.
Again, more of a photo log than a writing post. Enjoy!
Sorry for the lack in updates from our recent Osaka trip. These two weeks had been hectic as hell for me with students’ mid-year exams round the corner. Trying to cram in as much last minute revision as possible. But alas I’d better get this going cos we are going Taipei next week and that would mean a severe backlog to clear! So here we go!
Patisserie Alcyon is another home-grown brand under “Anjou and Alcyon” whose humble beginnings in 1972as a restaurant in Shinsaibashi Osaka, specialising in Mediterranean cuisine. The patisserie branch debuted in 1986 and has since grown not only locally but reached the shores of France, with dessert boutiques in Paris. We visited their takeaway outlet in Umeda, Osaka which is reputed to have a very good selection of macarons. And indeed they do! 30 flavours in all!