Japan, Day 2: Kyoto (Arashiyama)

MARCH 7, 2017 (TUESDAY)

We started our 2nd day in Kyoto quite early since our goal was to get to the famous bamboo grove without the big crowd yet. When we got off in Arashiyama Station, there was a sign which exit was for the bamboo grove but we were not sure how to get there by walking. It also started raining so the temperature became too cold to handle (at least for me).

We ended up taking a cab so that we would not risk getting lost – short ride and the driver dropped us near the entrance. The first hundred meters of the bamboo grove got us thinking why people described SAGANO BAMBOO GROVE as majestic because there were electric posts + wires blocking part of the view.

We still walked some more and stumbled upon NONOMIYA-JINJA, which is a shrine dedicated to Amaterasu and the deity of fire.

After spending a few minutes here, we decided to continue our walk along the bamboo grove but we were surprised that it was quite short. We were at the back area of Tenryu-ji and we could not find any more bamboo. We decided to walk some more and finally, we saw the bamboo area captured in most photographs.

I finally understood what people meant when they said that photographs were not enough to do justice on how ethereal and beautiful this place is. Highly recommend to go here really early! Aside from us, there was just a tourist couple so we managed to get good pictures of the place. The place was also quiet which made it perfect for a bit of reflection and relaxation time.

At the end of the path, visitors can also go to OKOCHI SANSO VILLA. Since it was too early and too cold to wait, we retraced our steps to reach the city area. We grabbed some breakfast from Lawson – onigiri, sandwich, hot coffee and tea. We were lucky that it was very near to TOGETSUKYO BRIDGE and there were vacant benches. We ate our breakfast with the bridge and Katsura River in sight.

After eating, we crossed the bridge and explored the park on one side. On the other side, we got a closer and better view of the river. There were also boats offering a cruise along the river, but I think this would be best enjoyed during the spring and fall season. Trees were still bare at the time we visited.

We wanted to buy some local sweets in Arashiyama and we decided to get help in Arashiyama Randen Station. Another surprising discovery we made here was the KIMONO FOREST. A short pathway was lined with cylinder-shaped pillars, which were designed in different colors and patterns. I read a bit more about the place afterwards (read here), and people highly recommend going here during the evening as well as the pillar are lit up.

At the end of the path, we saw a small pond with a sphere designed with a dragon. There was a small sign near the pond that said that if one dips their hands into the water, s/he will feel refreshed and will be blessed with happiness. My hands were too cold already so I did not do this but J and M went ahead since they felt they could still withstand the temperature.

We walked to TENRYU-JI (UNESCO) afterwards and bought tickets for both the garden and buildings in the area.

It is the largest temple in Arashiyama and said to be one of the best Zen temples in Kyoto. Not a surprise because the place is beautiful, and there is a spot in the main hall where one can sit and admire the garden and pond outside.

Before heading back to Kyoto Station, we bought tickets for the SAGANO SCENIC RAILWAY. We were lucky because we only had to wait a few minutes before the special train arrives. The next schedule after ours was an hour later.

We hopped on the retro-looking train when it arrived (seat numbers are assigned upon buying the ticket). It was past 1PM already and since we had not yet eaten lunch, I ate the daifuku I bought from a stall near the bamboo grove entrance.

Flavors (L-R): adzuki, ???, matcha

The ride lasted for about 25 minutes – we passed by scenic views of mountains as well as a good view of the Hozugawa River.

We only bought a one-way ticket so upon arrival at the last station, we walked going to Umahori so that we could catch a train ride back to Kyoto Station. We had our very late lunch in KYOTO RAMEN KOJI, located at the 10F Kyoto Station .

There are 10 ramen shops to choose from and this “street” (koji) boasts of housing shops that serve ramen from different parts of Japan (check out the list of ramen shops here).

Since we had different ramen preferences at that time, we decided to go our separate ways for lunch and meet at the entrance of Kyoto Ramen Koji after eating. I chose HAKATA IKKOUSHA because I was super hungry and I saw that their ramen has huge pork slices. Yay! Securing a seat was not a problem since it was still off-peak hours.

Their hakata ramen tasted really, really good that I finished the whole bowl by myself. This was on top of my additional order of karaage (which I also enjoyed BTW!).

After lunch, J recommended going to Kitano Tenmangu as she saw IG posts that a lot of ume trees there are already in full bloom. We somehow gave up already in seeing sakura so we decided to go there.

KITANO TENMANGU is a shrine dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane, a scholar and politician during the Heian period who is also best known as the “god of academics”. Hence, this is also a shrine where many students visit to pray for their studies and exams.

We also went to the garden of ume trees (with entrance fee but forgot how much), and it did not disappoint at all! I’ll let the pictures below do the talking. 😉

We went home afterwards and bought convenience store food for dinner. Guess we had not yet recovered from the 30,000 steps we did the day before this.

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