The best bit of Kyoto Castle is the nightingale floor: It’s made deliberately to be noisy when walked upon so that no one could sneak up on the Castle inhabitants in the night. The thing that surprised us was that the sound produced is not a squeak like badly laid boards, but it is a melodious bird-like sound. We experimented to see if we could sneak through ninja-like, but there were too many people making noises to differentiate our own footsteps from the mass. Apart from the nightingale floors, the interior is quite austere in a Japanese tatami-mat way. The gardens, however, are quite lovely.
We had lunch in the Nishiki Markets. The Nishiki Markets are a long covered street covering several blocks. They sell both raw produce with ready-to-eat food. Many of the stalls have been handed down in the same family for generations; in the centre of the market is a wonderful shop where 18 generations of the same family have been making blades – originally swords and now kitchen knives.
We browsed the food stalls buying things at random and generally had a tasty meal – though we’re all still a bit uncertain about the Japanese fondness for fried rice paste, it’s a gelatinous taste that is clearly acquired over more time than we’ve put in to it. Though it was the tempura that led to Declan’s immortal words: “What? We travelled all the way to Japan to have fish fingers on a stick?”