Travel Tuesday: Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco

If you have seen my Instagram posts, you know I’m still a little giddy from my visit to the Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco with my mom (who normally lives in in hometown of Chicago) and my sister who lives in San Rafael. Both my sisters and my mom had also visited the Museum of Ice Cream in Los Angeles, but I hadn’t been able to join in, so I was happy to hear that they were opening up a second location of this pop up museum in San Fran.
Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco
Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco, cotton candy
The tickets sold out in a flash but I was super lucky in not only getting into the website but getting the perfect weekend when my mom would be in town and one of a few weekends my sister didn’t already have booked until 2018 (seriously, her schedule…). And, we got tickets for the first entrance at 11 AM (they are timed tickets) which incredibly let our group of the first 12 ticket holders in line be the first into every room and almost felt like a private visit since other groups didn’t catch up to us.
Museum of Ice Cream in San Franciso

If you haven’t heard of the Museum of Ice Cream (or MOIC) before, it started out its initial incarnation in New York, and then closed and opened up in Los Angeles. While the Los Angeles run is still going on in LA after several extensions, a second location in San Francisco also opened, and is the newest incarnation. Each location is a little different, though the theme always includes lots of samples of ice creams and a sprinkle pool. When it comes to each individual room themes and how they are set up and what sweet artwork they feature though, they may vary.
Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco

Here’s a look at the rooms in the San Francisco version. Be aware that if you come, you must already have purchased tickets ahead of time (none are available at the door). There is only one restroom area and it’s in the middle of the museum, and when you go through the museums you can only go forward, not back to any rooms you have previously left.
Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco

[Read more…]

Signature

Oregon Travel: Visiting Schreiner’s Iris Gardens

Last week, I shared how an easy partial day trip from Portland just an hour south to visit the Adelman Peony Gardens if you are here during bloom season in May-June. Close by to the Peony Gardens is Schreiner’s Iris Gardens – it’s only 2.5 miles away, a few minutes by car. During bloom season, their gardens are open dawn to dusk, and are free, so I highly recommend throwing in another stop and visiting Shreiner’s Iris Gardens.

When my mom came to visit me a few days before Memorial Day weekend a few weeks ago, after our stop for peonies, which are among her favorite flowers, I sorta forced her to go to the Iris gardens too even though she said she didn’t care much for Irises. We still hung out there for an hour. Here are a few photos that encapsulate visiting Schreiner’s Iris Gardens.
Visiting Schreiner's Iris Gardens is easy, just an hour south of Portland, and is free - a great option if you are in Portland or Salem during their May bloom season Visiting Schreiner's Iris Gardens is easy, just an hour south of Portland, and is free - a great option if you are in Portland or Salem during their May bloom season
[Read more…]

Signature

Visiting Folsom Prison Museum

Today’s Travel Tuesday post is still in California, but this time we move from the Bay area and the Digital Space and Future Parks exhibit or Floating Homes of Sausalito to an area just  30 minutes northeast outside of Sacramento. If you’ve ever heard of Folsom at all, it most likely is because of Johnny Cash and his song Folsom Prison Blues. He performed and recorded this song at Folsom Prison on the album At Folsom Prison. I have been to the city of Folsom multiple times as part of my job, but it was only recently when my meeting schedule had enough of an opening if I skipped lunch to finally make it to the Folsom Prison Museum.

The large keys used at Folsom Prison on display at the Folsom Prison Museum Lock from a Folsom Prison Railroad Gate - on display when visiting Folsom Prison Museum.

The museum is open everyday except major holidays from 10 AM – 4 PM and is on the grounds of the Folsom State Prison (which is still in use) as well as California State Prison – Sacramento. Located on300 S Folsom Prison Road, after turning onto the road go straight to the end where the old Folsom prison is at the end of the road and parking lot is to the left – do not make right turns as that takes you to the California State Prison / New Folsom Prison.

After parking in the large visitors parking lot you will head past the visitor registration building (which is for visiting prisoners) through the first gate to a small house/building on the right hand side called Historic House #8 just after the gate, a bit uphill away from the actual famous granite walls of the prison. You will probably pass a few guards at least by that first gate who can also help direct you.

You may see signs about no photography, but cameras are fine inside the museum. For the bargain admission of $2 cash per person (children under 12 are free) which you hand to the retired correctional officer, you are treated to a very small but dense amount of artifacts from the long history of Folsom State Prison.

When the prison first opened in 1880 it didn’t have walls! Only guard towers and lines drawn in the ground and the intimidation and authority of the prison guards – a few with guns, but most just with clubs. On display in one case is a World War 1 30 caliber water cooled machine gun. This gun was used for enforcement in the window of the armory until the 1950s. It was fired in a short burst on the first day of each month both to keep it operational and for the psychological effect.
On display while visiting Folsom Prison Museum - a World War 1 30 caliber water cooled machine gun. This gun was used for enforcement in the window of the armory until the 1950s. It was fired in a short burst on the first day of each month both to keep it operational and for the psychological effect.

An onsite quarry was used to source granite that the prisoners used to craft the famous Folsom Prison walls which were finally completed 40 years later. It was also around that time that prison cells first got air holes (!) drilled into their solid iron doors, which until then only had eye slots. Before electricity, prisoners had to carefully conserve their candlestick and oil lamp to last both for light and warmth in their cold stone walled dirt ground 4 by 8 foot cells.

There’s a grim part of the history here. This was the site of executions, riots, violence leading to inmate and guard deaths, and for even after death, prisoners were buried here at an onsite graveyard marked with a headstone they or a prisoner friend could carve. You can’t see the graveyard (it’s by a rifle range) but you can hear about how its original location was buried apparently too close to Folsom Dam. Definitely you can also wonder about how many ghosts haunt the area.
Hanging Ropes from executions. A new rope is used for each execution as no rope could be used twice due to the difference in the weight and height of each condemned man. After its use, the rope was tagged with the man's convict number and stored. From a display case while visiting the Folsom Prison Museum

It’s not all morbid though – you can read about various escape attempts (such as one with a homemade diving suit though ok that is a bit dark since it was fatally unsuccessful), and see photos from prison life back then, including photos when convicts first arrive at the prison and after they are in their stripes. You can also see a lot of the art, such as a 8 foot high Ferris wheel crafted out of 250,000 toothpicks in 10 months as part of a toothpick circus. Some art is not even not that old – for instance the potato chip purse and potato chip baby boots. This Prison Folk Art used to be made with cigarette pack wrappers but when tobacco products became illegal in prison by California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and since gum wrappers are also illegal since they can jam up locks or be used as molds, prisoners started using potato chip bags. Other objects made include picture frames and bracelets.
8 foot high Ferris wheel crafted out of 250,000 toothpicks in 10 months as part of a toothpick circus by prisoner Billy Burk. The ferris wheel at least is on display at the Folsom Prison Museum 8 foot high Ferris wheel crafted out of 250,000 toothpicks in 10 months as part of a toothpick circus by prisoner Billy Burk. The ferris wheel at least is on display at the Folsom Prison MuseumCreativity blooms with limited supplies but lots of time by the various prisoners at Folsom Prison - on display when visiting Folsom Prison Museum. This is a Con Kid Collectible, each are numbered. Creativity blooms with limited supplies but lots of time by the various prisoners at Folsom Prison - on display when visiting Folsom Prison Museum. This is a potato chip purse and potato chip baby boots, Prison Folk Art used to be made with cigarette pack wrappers but when tobacco products became illegal in prison, and since gum wrappers are also illegal since they can jam up locks or be used as molds, prisoners started using potato chip bags. Other objects made include picture frames and bracelets. width=

There are also inventions in several display cases. Yes these include  weapons including a spear made out of wrapping tight soapy wet newspaper, but also basic like ways to heat food like a homemade toaster and a brick hot plate. It all really is a testament how creative men with limited resources but lots of time can devise both as a hobby or for functional use.
Weapons crafted by prisoners, from shivs to spears made by using rolled up wet soapy newspapers in a display at Folsom Prison Museum Prisoner Homemade Toaster on display when visiting Folsom Prison Museum

There’s a whole small room about music and movies (including Johnny Cash) that also houses a fake cell with an animatronic Sam the prisoner who tells you about life in Folsom Prison. Another room has a lot of details about a prison escape attempt and plays a video which lets you visit some of the cell blocks and other areas outside the museum and get a little trivia. You definitely learn a lot of trivia overall visiting this museum. Did you know that there is farm portion of Folsom Prison that helps provide crops for the meals here? Or that since the 1930s Folsom Prison is where California state license plates are made, as well as street signs?
When visiting Folsom Prison, you can meet an animatronic Sam the prisoner who tells you about life in Folsom Prison Thanksgiving Day Menu on November 27, 1980 for the prisoners, at the Folsom Prison Museum

If you have time, take the time to definitely chat with whoever the retired guard is watching over the museum during your visit – there’s so much to read and see and they can definitely share stories or point you to where you can get more details about it in the museum.

A visit if you carefully read everything and watch the video may be about 1.5 hours. There is a lot packed into the small facility – the admission fee is helping to raise money for a larger building and Big House Prison Museum where they can show even more of the history which can’t fit into the house now, including I think a train that is part of another escape attempt. For now, the museum is basically 4 rooms on the first floor, plus a few artifacts scattered right outside the door and in the yard, so it can really utilize an expansion.  The new museum will also house videos, artifacts, and other memorabilia from correctional institutions all in the US and around the world. There are not many prison museums, so if you are in the Sacramento or Folsom area it is definitely an interesting and informative stop, and very unique, and I think a very local attraction worth supporting. For now, for further support at the Folsom Prison Museum they also have a few souvenirs you can purchase (including my favorite, postcards) and they do accept major credit cards or you can make a donation.
Visiting Folsom Prison Museum

I’m hoping I’ll never have to experience a prison, so this is the closest to learning about this part of the world. It may not be as famous as Alcatraz, but it’s definitely just as fascinating, and doesn’t require a reservation and is a bargain price at $2. Have you ever visited any prisons, or would you ever consider doing so?

Signature

Floating Homes of Sausalito

I’m always looking for unique attractions when visiting new areas, and recently when I stopped over to hang with my mom and sister in San Rafael, I discovered the Floating Homes of Sausalito. Sausalito is about 30 minutes north of San Francisco, just past the Golden Gate Bridge. You can get here by car, or via ferry from San Francisco. There are multiple piers where neighborhoods of floating homes are docked, and the one I visited were the docks at Waldo Point Harbor.
There are multiple piers where neighborhoods of floating homes are docked in Sausalito, just 30 minutes north of San Francisco, and the one I visited were the docks at Waldo Point Harbor. There are multiple piers where neighborhoods of floating homes are docked in Sausalito, just 30 minutes north of San Francisco, and the one I visited were the docks at Waldo Point Harbor.

Here’s a glimpse of what you could see!

A look down to see all the floating homes along the dock path
Floating Homes of Sausalito. There are multiple piers where neighborhoods of floating homes are docked in Sausalito, just 30 minutes north of San Francisco, and the one I visited were the docks at Waldo Point Harbor. Floating Homes of Sausalito. There are multiple piers where neighborhoods of floating homes are docked in Sausalito, just 30 minutes north of San Francisco, and the one I visited were the docks at Waldo Point Harbor. Floating Homes of Sausalito. There are multiple piers where neighborhoods of floating homes are docked in Sausalito, just 30 minutes north of San Francisco, and the one I visited were the docks at Waldo Point Harbor. Floating Homes of Sausalito. There are multiple piers where neighborhoods of floating homes are docked in Sausalito, just 30 minutes north of San Francisco, and the one I visited were the docks at Waldo Point Harbor.

You will see a huge variety of architectures and types of boats that have been revamped into homes. Many had beautiful art as part of their boat or in the “front yard” where they tie up to the dock, along with carefully maintained “gardens” of plants.
Floating Homes of Sausalito. There are multiple piers where neighborhoods of floating homes are docked in Sausalito, just 30 minutes north of San Francisco, and the one I visited were the docks at Waldo Point Harbor. Floating Homes of Sausalito. There are multiple piers where neighborhoods of floating homes are docked in Sausalito, just 30 minutes north of San Francisco, and the one I visited were the docks at Waldo Point Harbor. Floating Homes of Sausalito. There are multiple piers where neighborhoods of floating homes are docked in Sausalito, just 30 minutes north of San Francisco, and the one I visited were the docks at Waldo Point Harbor. Floating Homes of Sausalito. There are multiple piers where neighborhoods of floating homes are docked in Sausalito, just 30 minutes north of San Francisco, and the one I visited were the docks at Waldo Point Harbor. Floating Homes of Sausalito. There are multiple piers where neighborhoods of floating homes are docked in Sausalito, just 30 minutes north of San Francisco, and the one I visited were the docks at Waldo Point Harbor. Floating Homes of Sausalito. There are multiple piers where neighborhoods of floating homes are docked in Sausalito, just 30 minutes north of San Francisco, and the one I visited were the docks at Waldo Point Harbor. Floating Homes of Sausalito. There are multiple piers where neighborhoods of floating homes are docked in Sausalito, just 30 minutes north of San Francisco, and the one I visited were the docks at Waldo Point Harbor. Floating Homes of Sausalito. There are multiple piers where neighborhoods of floating homes are docked in Sausalito, just 30 minutes north of San Francisco, and the one I visited were the docks at Waldo Point Harbor. Floating Homes of Sausalito. There are multiple piers where neighborhoods of floating homes are docked in Sausalito, just 30 minutes north of San Francisco, and the one I visited were the docks at Waldo Point Harbor. Floating Homes of Sausalito. There are multiple piers where neighborhoods of floating homes are docked in Sausalito, just 30 minutes north of San Francisco, and the one I visited were the docks at Waldo Point Harbor.

Some examples of the great art you will also see besides the wonderful homes
Floating Homes of Sausalito. There are multiple piers where neighborhoods of floating homes are docked in Sausalito, just 30 minutes north of San Francisco, and the one I visited were the docks at Waldo Point Harbor. Floating Homes of Sausalito. There are multiple piers where neighborhoods of floating homes are docked in Sausalito, just 30 minutes north of San Francisco, and the one I visited were the docks at Waldo Point Harbor. Floating Homes of Sausalito. There are multiple piers where neighborhoods of floating homes are docked in Sausalito, just 30 minutes north of San Francisco, and the one I visited were the docks at Waldo Point Harbor. Floating Homes of Sausalito. There are multiple piers where neighborhoods of floating homes are docked in Sausalito, just 30 minutes north of San Francisco, and the one I visited were the docks at Waldo Point Harbor. Floating Homes of Sausalito. There are multiple piers where neighborhoods of floating homes are docked in Sausalito, just 30 minutes north of San Francisco, and the one I visited were the docks at Waldo Point Harbor.

In visiting any marina docking the floating homes of Sausalito, it is similar to visiting and walking in any residential neighborhood you are just looking politely at the outside. Stay off their private property and be respectful of course these are homes which may have people sleeping off their night shift.

I think this is a great little walk to take after a seafood lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf or even nearby here in Sausalito just off the main road of Bridgeway where you can see multiple marinas and restaurants.

Have you ever heard of the floating homes of Sausalito or visited any houseboats anywhere else? When you were in the Bay Area, what attractions did you visit and enjoy?

Signature

Japan Travel: Japanese Treats at Temples and Shrines

I wanted to highlight some of the mysterious snacks and treats you may see when you are looking at food stalls nearby a temple or shrine. You won’t necessarily find all of these at a particular temple or shrine, but usually you will find some. This is not a full list- just my personal favorite Japanese Treats at Temples and Shrines.

The big motherlode is at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, an area in Tokyo, because it boasts Nakamise Dori Shopping Street that almost everyone passes through from Kaminarimon Gate to Hozomon Gate to get to the actual main hall and other buildings. Another great area to look is in Kyoto, in the Higashiyama shopping street between Yasaka Shrine or Kodaji Temple and Kiyomizudera Temple,  also called Sannenzaka and Ninenzaka.

Dango

Dango is a doughy ball served on skewers. In most cases, the dango are each chewy like mochi usually brushed with a sweet sauce. They are usually slightly smaller than the size of a ping pong ball. There are multiple dango balls on a skewer. In some cases the dango are all the same, but there are also multi-colored pink white and green ball that may appear all on a stick too. I’ve also had a black one which was made with black sesame, a Mount Takao specialty.
Black Sesame Dango, a Mount Takao specialty

In most cases the dango are also warmed slightly by a charcoal fire or grill so that parts of it are crisped up a little but on the outside on one side. It may be a modest fire like these
Getting a little crisp edge to the dango, a chewy Japanese dumpling and sweet made from mochiko (rice flour) that are served skewered at a Mount Takao stand Getting a little crisp edge to the dango, a chewy Japanese dumpling and sweet made from mochiko (rice flour) that are served skewered at a Mount Takao stand

Or in the evening a little bit more dramatic with the flames.
Dango stand near Sensoji Temple, this stand was on a side street Dango stand near Sensoji Temple, this stand was on a side street

They are usually plain when they are skewered by the fire, and then when you order a skewer, get the sauce brushed on and may get a quick extra warmed up closer to the heat for a few moments to glaze it slightly.
Brushing the sauce on dango, a chewy Japanese dumpling and sweet made from mochiko (rice flour) that are usually serve skewered at a Mount Takao stand

They are usually very chewy and have a napkin to wipe your face since the sauce may got on it!
Chewy saucy dango, a Japanese dumpling made from mochiko (rice flour) on a skewer. This was almost like a sweet bbq sauce from a Mount Takao stand Chewy saucy dango, a Japanese dumpling made from mochiko (rice flour) on a skewer. This was almost like a sweet bbq sauce from a Mount Takao stand

There is one exception to this, which I have found on Nakamise at Sensoji. You’ll recognize this famous stand by the pink and bunny theme. Even though this is an exception, I always top and get it. Here, the dango are much smaller, more the size of marbles. This is Kibi-dango, a variation of dango made with millet flour. From this same stand you can enjoy with warm sake called Amazake that is very sweet and low alcohol. Here, I caught a few photos of the ladies rolling the kibi dango in the flour. Afterwards, since the flour is still a bit loose they serve the dango in a pink envelope with the white bunny logo on it. I highly recommend with Kibi dango to have it with a beverage as the flour coating instead of a sauce makes it more dry.
Kibi-dango is a variation of dango made with millet flour, which here you can enjoy with warm sake called Amazake that is sweet and low alchohol from the same store on Nakamise Shopping Street at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa Kibi-dango is a variation of dango made with millet flour, which here you can enjoy with warm sake called Amazake that is sweet and low alcohol from the same store on Nakamise Shopping Street at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa Kibi-dango is a variation of dango made with millet flour, which here you can enjoy with warm sake called Amazake that is sweet and low alcohol from the same store on Nakamise Shopping Street at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa Kibi-dango is a variation of dango made with millet flour, which here you can enjoy with warm sake called Amazake that is sweet and low alchohol from the same store on Nakamise Shopping Street at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa

Ningyo Yaki

Ningyo Yaki is a cake filled with sweet red bean paste. You will often see it in the shape of various buildings or animals.
ningyo-yaki (red bean-filled buns moulded into various shapes using iron pans over a fire) in varoius shapes! ningyo-yaki (red bean-filled buns moulded into various shapes using iron pans over a fire) in varoius shapes!

If you are lucky, you will see it being made fresh, either with an iron mold pan by hand, or by an automated machine!

By hand with a mold pan (at Sensoji Temple) – the man will first pour in the dough, add the bean, and then pour more dough on top and then place the mold on the small flames- he was super fast! You can see all the molds he is working with on the right as they are cooking to the right.:
Making Ningyo Yaki (red bean filled busn molde dinto varoius shapes using iron pans ove ra fire) - the man will first pour in the dough, add the bean, and then pour more dough on top and then place the mold on the small flames- he was super fast! Making Ningyo Yaki (red bean filled busn molde dinto varoius shapes using iron pans ove ra fire) - the man will first pour in the dough, add the bean, and then pour more dough on top and then place the mold on the small flames- he was super fast!

Automated (at Himeji Castle):

At this particular machine (I won’t tell you how long I stood at the window, just fascinated each time I come across these…) there are two brushes on the right side of the machine that brush the inside of the molds – each mold’s side gets brushed. Then as it turns counterclockwise, the molds get dough squirted into it, then the sweet bean pellet is added. I couldn’t see all the way around so I’m not sure if then there is a second squirt of dough to cover the sweet bean before the mold is closed.
Automated Ningyo Yaki Machine. On the right side, you can see two pipes that brush the inside of the mold, and then the machine will squeeze the dough into the molds, On the other side the bean is then added, and more dough on top then the molds continue to circle, cooking it on one side until it is flipped by that lever you see on the right to cook on the other side! It ticks more counterclockwise until it gets to the lever on the right which will open and dump out the ningyo yaki

What I do know is then it clicks forward counterclockwise until the mold reaches a lever on the left side, around the 8 o’clock mark. Then, the lever flips the mold over to cook on the other side until around the 3 o’clock mark in the machine, a lever opens the mold and then a claw retrieves the hot now fully cooked cake.
In this ningyo yaki machine, it automatically does the entire process in an automated fashion. The crane carries the cooked cake to the machine on this right side to cool and get packaged down the little slide of plastic you see. On the left you can see the brushing inside the mold and then the squeezing of dough to the left of that

Then, the claw drops it perfectly each time into a new smaller machine that times the cooling of the cake and then slides it into plastic to be individually wrapped.
Automated ningyo yaki machine. The crane on the right side carries the cooked cake to the machine on this right side to cool and get packaged down the little slide of plastic you see. On the left you can see the brushing inside the mold and then the squeezing of dough to the left of that

Since these photos were taken by Himeji (a famous Japanese castle), no surprise that the ningyo yaki looks like a mini castle! When we purchased this, the man ran around the machine to give us a fresh, still warm one.
Himeji Castle shaped Ningyo Yaki - Ningyo Yaki is a cake filled with sweet red bean paste. You will often see it in the shape of various buildings or animals.

Manju

Manju is a batter (usually flour, rice powder and buckwheat) stuffed with some sort of filling (usually sweet red bean paste of boiled azuki beans and sugar). At Nakamise Dori, I was surprised to find more creative fillings, such as cherry, custard, pumpkin, sweet potato, green tea and more. Below, I got a Sesame Manju.
Manjū (饅頭?) is a popular traditional Japanese confection. There are many varieties of manjū, but most have an outside made from flour, rice powder and buckwheat and a filling of an red bean paste, made from boiled azuki beans and sugar. This stand at Nakamise Dori has many creative fillings beyond just sweet red bean Manjū (饅頭?) is a popular traditional Japanese confection. There are many varieties of manjū, but most have an outside made from flour, rice powder and buckwheat and a filling of red bean paste made from boiled azuki beans and sugar.

Nikuman

Nikuman is a smaller version of Chinese buns. They are steamed, and may be filled with meat or other fillings. They are served quite hot, often right out of the steamer, so definitely be carefully biting into it – the floury doughy soft bun may seem warm, but the inside can be piping hot.
The many snacks being made fresh that you can purchase while walking in the Higashiyama District - we stopped for these Nikuman, or steamed buns because there is a beef burdock one and also a bean green tea vegetarian one The many snacks being made fresh that you can purchase while walking in the Higashiyama District - we stopped for these Nikuman, or steamed buns because there is a beef burdock one and also a bean green tea vegetarian one

You will probably recognize it by the wooden steamer trays stacked on top of each other
Nikuman - steamed bun filled with meat and/or other ingedients. This beefy one was juicy by Himeji Castle Nikuman

For instance, I found these in the Higashiyama District – we stopped for these buns because there is a beef and burdock one and also a bean and green tea vegetarian one!
The many snacks being made fresh that you can purchase while walking in the Higashiyama District - beef and burdock one The many snacks being made fresh that you can purchase while walking in the Higashiyama District - beef and burdock The many snacks being made fresh that you can purchase while walking in the Higashiyama District - bean green tea vegetarian one The many snacks being made fresh that you can purchase while walking in the Higashiyama District - bean green tea vegetarian one

Menchi Katsu

Menchi Katsu is a breaded and deep fried cutlet or croquette, usually meat but it could be another protein (in Kyoto we had the vegetarian options of potato or tofu skin).

This meat one below shown from near Sensoji Temple at the stand Asakusa Menchi (you will probably recognize it first by the line) is the best version I’ve ever had, famous for being particularly juicy / greasy depending on your point of view and they use a rare breed pork called Kouza-buta (Kouza pork) from Kanagawa.
In line for famous Asamen's Menchi Katsu, a breaded and depe fried cutlet or croquette Very juicy and flavorful fried pork thing - apparently Menchi Katsu, a deep fried breaded cutlet - found at Asakusa, near Sensoji Temple

I also found some while walking in Higashiyama shopping street towards Kiyomizudera Temple in Kyoto- they had filling options of Kobe beef, soy milk skin cream, and Japanese potato croquette.
As a snack in the Higashiyama District, we purchased some croquettes to energize us for our uphill walk to the temple - they had kobe beef, soy milk skin cream, and Japanese potato croquette As a snack in the Higashiyama District, we purchased some croquettes to energize us for our uphill walk to the temple - they had kobe beef, soy milk skin cream, and Japanese potato croquette

Senbei

Senbei are Japanese rice crackers. There are a huge variety of senbei out there – some are sweet, salty, spicy, or savory, in all sorts of shapes and sizes and flavors. They are usually baked or grilled over charcoal. The mnst common ones you see are round, and may have a little square piece of seaweed wrapped around it and be shiny from a soy sauce glaze.

What has made senbei probably most famous is that they sell them to feed the deer at Nara. There is even a place where they throw large senbei like frisbee and the nburn down a mountain!?? Japan Talk has a webpage listing some interesting senbei trivia.

I admit I don’t necessarily seek out senbei because it makes me thirsty, and that makes me drink, and then I might have to use a public toilet and who knows if it will be the nice ones with buttons or a squat one (although at least unlike China they provide a nice handle on the wall to keep your balance). But I wanted to highlight an interesting one I found in Kyoto, on Higashiyama just across from the entrance to the Kodaji Temple. It was the aroma and seeing them being made fresh that caught my attention. Fresh senbei is always superior to packaged ones.
Senbei store where we observed it being made fresh in Higashiyama District. This senbei has been produced since 1864 and is still hand baked the exact same way. These are different in that they utilize broad bean, wheat, flour and an egg.

This one, according to a helpful English index card in the window, has been produced since 1864 and is still hand baked the exact same way. These are different in that they utilize broad bean, wheat, flour and an egg. The craftsman was super cheerful and welcoming even as he kept working the whole time. He uses those bags to pie in dough, but that rectangle in front of him is an oven full of broad beans that are being roasted – you an see some of the beans there on the cloth and paper in front of him. He scoops the beans from the big pot to his left and into drawers of the oven. Senbei store where we observed it being made fresh in Higashiyama District. This senbei has been produced since 1864 and is still hand baked the exact same way. These are different in that they utilize broad bean, wheat, flour and an egg.

We sampled all the different kinds and the bag we bought did not make it out of Japan because we ate it all.
Kyoto Senbei made with broad bean

Amazake

Amazake is a sweet warmed sake. It is made out of fermented rice and Koji (a special cultured rice – it’s bringing the important fungus that will break down the carb of the rice to sugars) so the sweetness comes naturally, not from any sugar.
Amazake that is sweet and low alcohol from the same store on Nakamise Shopping Street at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa Amazake that is sweet and low alcohol from the same store on Nakamise Shopping Street at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa

It is poured from the pot where it is still kept warm.
="Amazake

The texture is almost like an almond milk. There may be a lot or just a little of the rice left in the beverage.
 Amazake that is sweet and low alcohol from the same store on Nakamise Shopping Street at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa Amazake by Kiyomizudera Temple's fountains

It might be made out of white rice, brown rice, or even black sesame (which I found as a specialty at Mount Takao). It is low in alcohol, so even kids drink it. When it’s chilly out, it’s a nice warm drink that is more substantial than just tea.
Black Sesame Amazake at Mount Takao

Which of these treats caught your eye as something you would stop for? Have you had any of these before? Is there a Japanese Temple or Shrine snack I missed?

Here’s a summary of my Japan Travel post series:

Signature