Three Arcades – The Bad, the Good, and the Bubbly

Source: deep kyoto

This is the final guest post from Edward J. Taylor and marks the end of a series of articles in which he explored Kyoto’s streets. Many thanks to Edward for his long-term commitment to this project which he actually set out on two years ago. To read more of Edward’s wanderings and ramblings both in Kyoto and further afield, please visit his blog: Notes from the ‘Nog. This month Edward and friends visit three of Kyoto’s arcades…

Gekikara Arcade Mascot

For a city with a population of 1.5 million, Kyoto can feel awfully small. One is constantly running into those one knows. The expat population in particular is quite close (though it could be argued that it can be stratified into generations). Within foreign circles are even more circles; those connected by interests, or by geography.

In the latter case, three of us discovered we’d all attended the same university, UC Santa Barbara (with a fourth popping up later). One night, we three met for dinner at Dining Room You, where a fellow, best known by the moniker Larry Kyoto, proposed that for one of these Deep Kyoto pieces, we walk a series of disjointed arcades that triangulate the city.

It took us a year to coordinate, but on a warm sunny Monday, Larry, Robert Yellin, and myself find ourselves disembarking the train at Nishi-Muko station. But almost immediately, we see a sign for the Gekikara Shotengai, which I’ll very loosely translate as Spice Alley. The sign bears a superhero-looking pepper pod called Karakki and at shops and restaurants all throughout town, the pod is a constant, by which they measure the flame.

It turns out that the shotengai, or arcade, in the name is a misnomer, and …continue reading