Welcome back to my adventures while traveling in Japan this summer; if you haven’t read up on my experiences in Tokyo and the other cities in northern Honshu, I encourage you to check them out! Any case, we’re going ahead with Kyoto!
After an overnight stay in a hotel not too far from Kyoto, we hitched ourselves back on the bus the following morning to drive over to the train station, where we took the Sagano Romantic Train (famous for passing through absolutely beautiful scenery, especially in the spring and autumn when the cherry blossoms and bright red/yellow/orange leaves appear, respectively) over to Arashiyama, a district in the city’s outskirts which is considered a national historic site for its temple/shrine areas, old-fashioned houses, and lush nature surrounding all of them.
We started the morning in Arashiyama by taking a scenic stroll through the Bamboo Walk, which literally is what it is: a walk among scores of thin, towering beautiful bamboo trees. Although the place was, of course, packed with tourists, it was actually quite calm and peaceful; I felt myself at peace, admiring the wondrous, verdant trees and understanding how balance must feel like for the Japanese: nature and self.
After passing through the bamboo, we ended up on the other side of town, containing the touristy, souvenir shops and attractions. We got some soy ice cream (think tofu, but in soft-serve form), which sounds weird at first, but that’s not what makes it intriguing: you can tip your soy ice cream cone upside down (all the way), and it won’t drop! *mind-blown* Plus, it was delicious. 😛
More food was consumed as we had some free time to walk around in the touristy quarter; my family and I stepped into a shop that sold grapefruit jello…placed inside grapefruit peel! Considering that it was rather hot and humid that day, having a cool, refreshing, and very grapefruit-tasting jello (from the peel!) really hit the spot! It was an incredible, new experience for all of us.
Before meeting up with the other tourists for lunch, we quickly headed over to the Togetsukyō bridge, which separates two rivers– Hozu and Katsura– for a photo opportunity. If you know me, then you’ll know that I enjoy taking photos of bridges on my travels: while the Togetsukyō didn’t blow me away, it still was a nice one to look at.
For lunch, we were treated to another sashimi-filled meal, this time consisting of raw snapper! You can say that my taste buds were bursting with umami flavor from the fish in combination with the sauces and small side dishes that went with it. I definitely ate well. 😛
We left Arashiyama for Kinkaku-ji, aka the “Golden Pavilion Temple,” which is, of course, covered in gold (duh!) and is one of the most popular places to visit in Japan- after all, we humans have a natural tendency to be attracted to shiny objects, including myself! 😉 While the temple itself wasn’t as large as I hope it would have been, it was still worth a photo opportunity for memories’ sake.
We left the Kinkaku-ji in the afternoon, returning to the city center of Kyoto for dyeing class (not “dying,” as in death, but dyeing as in coloring cloth with ink. It’s not that morbid!) at a small trades shop. We got our hands dirty (well, not super dirty) as we blended colors and dabbed them into our white cloths the stenciled outlines of objects like flowers, animals, stars, even sushi (for me!). In the end, we got to take them home, which was really neat.
As it was nearing the day, we headed to our hotel in Kyoto, where similar to Tokyo’s, we would be staying for two nights. I believe that, after checking in, we headed out to explore the city proper in the evening. The city life in Kyoto is similar to that in Tokyo: busy, filled with people, lots of shopping areas, etc. That said, we ended our day by returning to the hotel after that, freshening up, and winding down before turning in for bed early, before 22h00, as we needed to wake up bright and early (around 5h30) to check out a temple nearby, in order to beat the crowds by 9h00. No staying up for us; then again, we were too pooped to have wanted to stay awake for longer!
Look out for the second part of my adventures in Kyoto. See you later! 🙂
— The Finicky Cynic
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