Planet of Doom

On Two Wheels

Posted on April 7, 2011

We woke up and rode some bikes.

Our first stop was Nintendo's last remaining Hanafuda building found in an obscure alley near Kyoto's Kamo River.

Some might not know, but before producing one of the most successful video game enterprises, Nintendo was originally known for their playing cards and love hotels. These playing cards are known as 'hanafuda' which translates to 'flower cards'. This game is centuries old but it wasn't until Nintendo came around in 1889 that the game's popularity came back. In the early 1900's the Yakuza caught on to this game and used it in their gambling parlors around the city bringing in a large portion of the company's revenue. As of today, Japan has cracked down on gambling and the game has since lost it's popularity. Even so, the building remains standing and the area is supposedly still heavily populated with Yakuza strongholds. As far as anyone knows, the building is no longer used for producing anything but has been kept preserved as a keepsake to Nintendo's history.

Note the pre-war kanji scripture (it's backwards), Do-Ten-Nin.

Not welcome.

Saw this little guy on the back door.

Sakura tree down the street.

Finishing riding around the city, we stopped by a place we walked by a few times but usually saw it to be too crowded, JiJiBaBa DOS. Located alongside several other bars in a very small alley that is no wider than an arms length, JijiBaBa stood out in the crowd. I don't know what the name means and there are only 8 seats in the bar, but when I saw there was open seats this time, we stopped in.

That's Shingo, the bar owner. A friendly guy that wanted to talk about surfing after I mentioned I was from Santa Barbara. I don't know a lot about surfing so the conversation quickly turned. We ordered a few beers and he made us several dishes that were far from ordinary bar food. One of the coolest things was a full leg of acorn-fed Ibérico pig aged at 36 months that he has in front of his bar. If you're lucky enough and he likes you, he'll shave you off some samples.

After talking and drinking with Shingo past his normal business hours and meeting a nice lady who bought us a couple rounds the night was over and we headed back to our room.

On the way I spotted this: Warm pancake drink.