Noontime on a hot and sultry summer day can be pretty quiet in Japan, especially in the posh Gion district of traditional Kyoto. Growing in hunger, and torn between pricey and confusing traditional restaurants, not all of which were open, and Lawsons, we walked past Issen Yoshoku’s slightly naughty statue several times before deciding to give it a go.
Visible from the street, a sort of short order chef was busily and singly handedly cracking eggs over a sort of omelet sitting on pancakes on a griddle. It turned out to be a dish called okonomiyaki, which was developed about a century ago, apparently to take advantage of the newly introduced western-style wheat flour. The price was right, and having a single entry on the menu simplified the ordering process greatly.
Although the statue of a dog pulling down a boy’s pants, prominently and memorably displayed on the restaurant’s exterior should have clued us in, it turned out to be a bit kitschier and droll than we’d expected.
Creepy kimonoed manikins were sitting at some of the tables, funny pictures were on the wall, and an entire miniature village was in a display case.
Right above our table was a large display of ema, the wooden plaques that are often seen hanging in Shinto shrines with prayers or wishes painted on them. These were a little bawdier than the ones we’d seen at the shrines (sort of a Shinto version of saucy seaside postcards).
We polished off our pancakes, had a Kirin..or two, waved goodbye to the staff, and headed back out into the Kyoto heat.