Arashiyama, Japan

12th June 2012

Shojin ryori is a traditional cuisine eaten by monks. Obviously an essential part of buddhism  is not to hurt another living creature, but because before the 20th century very little eggs and dairy were consumed in Japan this buddhist fare is actually entirely vegan. You can find shojin ryori in some temples across Japan but the most popular one by far amongst the vegan blogs I read was that at the Shigetsu restaurant in the Tenryuji temple in Arashiyama.

The restaurant itself is located in the gardens of the temple which costs 500 yen to get into.  We called and made a reservation in advance (which is advised but on this occasion others turned up without and were accomodated) which meant we got a dinning room all to ourselves which opened out on to the pretty pond.

The set meal is available in 3 options 3000, 5000 and 7000 yen. Unfortunately they do not give you any detail about what any of the dishes are, but I found this most helpful blog which has pretty much all the same dishes we enjoyed.

Even Baba was puzzled as to some of the dishes, a block of tofu looking substance baffled us both.  The aubergine with miso was particularly good, and the creamy looking soup which we were told was grated tofu made into a soup. I really enjoyed the yuba, this is actually the skin that is formed when soya milk is made.

Aubergine

Yuba

Sadly Cafe Proverbs which I had seen recommended was a 40 minute bus ride away with no direct route so we gave it a miss. Instead after lunch we took a leisurely stroll around the gardens.

Bamboo grove

I couldn’t resist popping into a mochi shop on the way back to the station for a ichigo daifuku.

I managed one bite before the Lil Man gobbled it up, I should have bought two! The outer casing is soft and stretchy (think glutounus) made from pounding rice in to a flour it’s sweetened with sugar and then normally with filled red beans  (aduki) which ours also had at the bottom.

Just before we jumped back on the train we stopped to look at this macrobiotic restaurant Prunus by the station hoping to pick something up for my dinner later.

I am guessing it s quite new as I had not come across it in my research and parts of the website when I checked it were being updated. However, the cafe which opened ‘irregularly’ was closed and the restaurant was reservation only.

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