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Kyoto: Ponto Cho


Our hotel in Kyoto was just a block or two from Ponto Cho, an collection of interconnected alleys anchored by a pair of main strips, the main stretch, lit up at night with signs and the narrow parallel alley closer to the river sat in its shadow. The area is full of bars, restaurant and clubs stacked in anonymous buildings and packed into narrow pathways. We wandered through here blindly searching for food and drink, sometimes successful sometimes not. Occasionally, we found ourselves stalking geisha walking out of one of the private clubs on their way back to Gion, just across the river.

The first night we found Ponto Cho we spent at least and hour looking for Ing, a dive written up in our guide book. In the process we found a shabu shabu place with seating on tatami mats. While searching for food, we followed the delicious looking skewers in a window that Tammi had to have. The thick liquid they were bathed in, reminiscent of peanut sauce, was not quite sweet enough to cover the bitterness of tripe. I ate as much of it as I could and we split a hotpot.

After another misadventure, on our last night in Kyoto, we got got gyoza from two hilarious guys who were very excited to meet a pair of New Yorkers. At nearly 2 in the morning, they cheered 'Go Yankees!' and practiced their English with us.

I could have spent weeks exploring this strip alone, meeting the people and learning where to find the cool bars. I think we did alright for ourselves considering we were a pair of gaijin with nothing to guide us but our appetites and a Lonely Planet map.

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