By day 4 we didn't even need to look for the "English Assistance" button on the ticket machines.
We were catching the train to Inari. Blythe dolls were advertising a University. Kinki University. Seriously, check the bigger version!
Off the train at Inari station Craig and I followed a group of Japanese people wearing backpacks, and a few other tourist-y looking people. A few metres down the road we stopped as we hadn't seen any signs directing us to Fushimi Inari. I think we had all been following students. A Spanish lady, a Swedish couple, and a Japanese couple were also lost. A lovely little old Japanese lady who was passing directed us back up the road where there was a GIGANTIC Torii if only we had turned left out of the station instead of right.
It was raining. Which meant that it was actually quite quiet. And lovely.
Okay. That's enough of the prayers.
Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社?) is the head shrine of Inari, located in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, Japan. The shrine sits at the base of a mountain also named Inari, and includes trails up the mountain to many smaller shrines. Merchants and manufacturers worship Inari for wealth. Donated torii lined footpaths are part of the scenic view. Inari is the Japanese kami (spirits, natural forces, or essence in the Shinto faith) of fertility, rice, agriculture, foxes, industry and worldly success and one of the principal kami of Shinto. Inari appears to have been worshipped since the founding of a shrine at Inari Mountain in 711 A.D.
Oh lord, Mo-Vember.
And after a while the rain became a little too heavy and we headed back down the mountain.
It was magical and one of my favourite moments on our trip.
We went back to Kyoto Station and visited Happy Terrace.
Where we had to leave behind our glowing cube. Not cool, Kyoto Station, not cool.
And we wandered across the Skywalk. It was 11 storeys up and Craig took photos of the structural bits and pieces. Getting his structural-draughtsman-geek on.
We had lunch at Katsukura. I rolled my eyes at the other tourists taking photos of their food and now? I find myself wishing I had done the same. Naturally.
And then, the moment that Craig had been waiting for, the Shinkansen!
Things we noticed: there was very little blurring outside the window. We were travelling at 280km/h and yet? couldn't tell at all. Also, there was no countryside to speak of, just varying levels of city/suburb.
The sun set while we were on the train and we arrived into Hiroshima in darkness.
My basic lazy-girl-baker idea of christmas baking is to take anything that usually comes as chocolate and add peppermint essence and candy canes. Because Chocolate and Mint is the best flavour combination in the world. THE WORLD.
Ah, jeez. I JUST realised that I only used 1 egg in this recipe. Though it calls for two. And tastes just fine. Hurrah!
Ingredients. Plus handy iPhone containing the recipe.
Cut the butter. Don't be terrified by just how much you use. Or at least, try to ignore it.
Place butter in a saucepan to melt. You can cut it in to cubes to help it melt faster but I prefer to not.
Because it's the perfect time to have a drink.
Or to continue with the recipe. Put the packets of biscuits into a plastic bag. Also? I have no idea if wine biscuits are called anything else around the world. They are plain plain plain biscuits and I can only stand them in recipes like this.
Crush the biscuits! Yes, we keep a hammer in the kitchen. Why?
Measure out the sugar. I love my measuring cups, they are ADORABLE.
Add to the melted sugar and stir until dissolved. Wooden spoon handle covered in electrical tape because I hate the feeling of rough wood. Makes my skin crawl.
Remove from the heat, allow to cool for a minute (just a minute) then add the egg(s. Damn,) and stir. The egg might go a little streaky white but that's just it cooking. DO NOT PANIC.
Add the vanilla and peppermint essences. I add extra because I love both flavours.
Stir in the cocoa.
Add the crushed biscuits. Don't panic if there are large chunks, you can crush them up in the next step.
Stir and stir and stir some more. And then a bit more.
Press into a greased 17 x 27cm slice tin.
And now you can watch Elf, or cook dinner, or have another drink. Then move on to the icing. You can use any chocolate icing recipe you like but mine is as follows:
Ingredients 1 tsp butter 1 tsp cocoa Water Icing sugar
The most annoying part is unwrapping and crushing the candy canes. This is where I rope in my darling darling husband, or, like last year, my darling sister.
Add the teaspoon of butter to a bowl and microwave for scant seconds to melt. Then add 1/4 cup hot water, the cocoa, and icing sugar.
Continue to add icing sugar and water, alternating between the two, until you have a) enough icing and b) the right consistency.
Spread over the slice and sprinkle with the candy cane shards.