Today’s plan is to visit the nearby temple. Which is supposed to be pretty impressive.
First we nip to the 7 11 to get some breakfast. Sandwiches for me and Alexei, Strong Zero for Andrew. How much of that stuff has he drunk since we’ve been here?
The temple isn’t that far away. Just a few hundred metres. Which on most days would have been a big problem. But we’re already feeling the effects of the typhoon. It’s raining and a good bit cooler. Not exactly pleasant, but way better than every other day so far.
There are so many 7 11s here. One about every 100 metres. We pass three on the short walk to the temple, two virtually opposite each other. And they all open 24 hours a day. Which, as they don’t seem to have licensing laws, means you can buy whisky 24/7. Yet another reason to love Japan.
It takes us a while to find the entrance to the temple. I’m starting to quite enjoy the rain. It’s only really mizzling. Enough to cool you down without soaking you. Perfect, really.
The temple is supposedly one of the largest wooden buildings in the world. I can believe that as it is pretty damn big. I’m surprised that there aren’t signs about naked flames here as they were at the temple in Tokyo.
You have to take your shoes off to enter the temple. Andrew can’t be arsed so only me and Alexei go in. It’s pretty impressive. But, as you aren’t allowed to take photographs inside, I can’t show you. Most of the interior is covered in mats, where people sit and pray.
When we’re done wandering around the temple complex we walk back to our hotel. The rain has got heavier. But it’s still more pleasant than the weather has been for the rest of the trip. We manage to get back to the hotel without Andrew passing out.
There’s a lot on the news about the approaching typhoon. Thankfully with graphics, so we have some idea of what they’re talking about. The Typhoon is predicted to make landfall around Hiroshima. Kyoto is in the outer zone. But only just.
In the evening we head out to a beer pub, which isn’t that far away from our hotel. It’s in a little side street close to the river.
Here was me thinking Amsterdam pubs were small. Hachi Craft Beer and Sake makes Cafe Belgique look like a Wetherspoons. Just four seats. But they have two record decks and non-stop vinyl playing. Mostly early 70's discoey funky stuff today. Upstairs is a vinyl record shop.
Only 5 draught beers, but, as I said, the place is tiny. You could maybe cram in a dozen people. Oh, they also have 8 sakes in bottles. The big bastard ones sake always seems to come in. Some served warm, some cold.
There’s food, too. Which is incredible in a space only about 25% bigger than my bathroom. Just little bits and bobs, but it’s still impressive. They’re very good at making the most of limited space in Japan. Which I suppose is just logical, given the geography of the country.
“Where are you from?” the barmaid asks Andrew.
“No, Amsterdam, in Holland.”
The barmaid laughs nervously and employs that most female of Japanese gestures: she covers her mouth with her hand.
Alexei has ordered a Thornbridge beer.
“You do know that’s an English beer? In fact you were drinking with Dom, one of their brewers just a few weeks ago when we were in Sheffield.”
“I don’t remember that.”
“Sure I said something at the time.”
Andrew’s gone with a local beer, Kyoto Brewing Fresh Hop Wheat Ale.
And me? Hotan, a Black IPL from Hop Kotan Brewing on Hakkaido.
I’m starting to feel nostalgic for beers like this. Once they made me a little bit sad. Now I think: at least it isn’t full of sludge and seems to have been brewed competently.
“What are you on about, Dad?”
“Did I just say that out loud?”
“Can you shut up about all that beer shit, now?” Alexei can be quite aggressive.
“OK, Lexxie. What do you think of the size of the sake bottles here?”
“They’re huge, but that’s is still beer shit. Sake is technically beer because it’s made from fermented grain. You told me that. I’m not stupid.”
I don’t fancy any of the other draught beers – either styles I’m not into or imported – I’m switching to sake.
“Because none of the others are strong enough, you mean.”
“Did I say that out loud again?”
I start with Kuro Ushi red label, described as “strong and straight / cold.”
“You’ve gone for the strongest one again. Can you stop that?” Alexei is getting wound up again.
“It’s only 100 mils. And Sake doesn’t get that strong.”
“You know what I mean. Don’t go crazy.” Alexei says sternly.
“When did I ever go crazy?”
“Lots of times, Dad.” Andrew’s voice sounds weary.
“I don’t remember that.”
Christ. The indignities I have to suffer and the hands of those little bastards.
“Who are you calling a bastard, Dad?”
“Did I say that out loud again?”
“And it makes sense you calling your own children bastards. Are you stupid?” Alexei is always on the front foot.
For purely scientific purposes, I’m having a warm sake. Just to compare the two styles.
Alexei scowls over at me. “Dad, remember what I said about not going crazy?”
“It’s only 100 mils.”
“You keep saying that.”
Great to see how the warm sake is prepared. Pan full of water on a hob, sake measured out into a metal cup and put in the pan. Warmed while the barmaid stirs and monitors the temperature with a thermometer. So wonderfully precise.
Someone comes in with a bag of 12-inchers. He shows them to the DJ. Looks like he’s looking to sell.
They were also showing From Dusk Until Dawn, projected on the back wall. The distortion caused by the uneven projection surface made the film all that weirder.
What a great pub. A classic.
We don’t stay too late, still worrying a bit about the weather. The typhoon is due to strike land in the next few hours. I get myself another ready meal in the 7 11 opposite the hotel. And cash in my 50 yen off Yakitori coupon.
I’ve been making great efforts not to accumulate change. Wherever possible, I’ve been paying the exact amount with as many coins as possible. Right down to the last yen. It’s working. My wallet is much lighter than it was a few days ago.
I end the day with some cheap whisky in the kids’ room.
HACHI Craft Beer and Sake
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