Apart from the Sagano bamboo forest in Arashiyama, the other place that I’d insisted on visiting is the Fushimi Inari shrine, with its handsome orange pillars. The shrine is free to enter and situated just outside a subway station – what more can you ask for, really?
Arashiyama, “storm mountain”, is one of the most beautiful places I visited on this trip. It helps that the Sagano bamboo forest in this part of Japan (west of Kyoto) is so incredibly beautiful. I know I used ‘beautiful’ 3 times in this paragraph, but I’d stood mesmerized within the bamboo groves and couldn’t stop going, wow.
Kiyomizuera is a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, and one of the most famous landmarks in the city. The large wooden veranda that juts out of the main building and into the trees is very popular among visitors as it offers a scenic view of Kyoto.
Another main attraction is the Otowa waterfall. It is said that your wish will come true if you make a wish while drinking from one of its 3 streams of water. In my haste to carry out the procedure of drinking from a metal cup attached to a long pole, I forgot my wish so I guess I wouldn’t know if the legend is true.
Focus gone wrong – I didn’t mean to focus on the twig!
I remember this day to be cold and wet. We were huddled outside a convenience shop eating rice balls. It’s the first time we ate those, and we found ourselves trying to separate plastic sheet from seaweed without touching the rice ball. We giggled over our clumsiness; I’d felt a shard of self-consciousness but continued peeling at the wrapper anyway… and then I did it! The plastic wrapper slid off, with the seaweed still intact. Nevermind I looked the part of a novice, and nevermind that my seaweed was slightly torn in places.
We were so hungry we forgot to take pictures of our take-away lunch for our personal food diary.
The rain ceased as we were finishing our lunch, so we began on our journey to the Kiyomizu temple. Throughout the walk, the drizzle came in short intervals. Umbrellas opened and closed, but everyone’s moods appeared to be light. Including ours.
The sky was crowded with grey clouds, but the gloomy weather did not interfere with the aesthetics of this place! At least not to me 🙂
The rows of houses and paths in this part of Kyoto are parallel to one another and consistent in design. Is it not too much of an excuse then to say that we got lost multiple times while finding our way back?
Us, proud navigators.
I am a little embarrassed already.
Our 14-bed dorm turned out to be a nice surprise. We had unwittingly made a booking with this guesthouse, thinking that we had reserved a 2-persons room. But it ended up better than expected, with a nice bed, bathroom, and breakfast prepared by the lady of the house.
We arrived in Kyoto on the chilliest day of our trip.
On our final evening at Kyoto, we had soba at Honke Owariya (in Takashimaya), which has supposedly been around for more than 500 years. If you like your noodles springy, you will enjoy this version of soba, which is somewhat different from the ones we order from the vending machine in Osaka (this is another story for another day) or consume in Singapore.
My soba came with a tiny piece of yuzu that managed to give the soup a faint citric taste.
We took a long stroll down the narrow lane of Pontocho after dinner. I really like how the Japanese create pretty shopfronts using calligraphy.
At the end of Pontocho, we did a u-turn around the row of shops, and found ourselves on the street parallel to the Kamogawa River. It is all very romantic – the trees, bending over the river like that, with their almost-bare branches.
We headed for the Fushimi Inari shrine just before daylight was fully spent to see the orange Torri gates. After having to rely on our maps the whole afternoon, it was nice to find the shrine located just outside the Inari Railway Station (on the Nara line).
Foxes are believed to be the mesengers of Inari, the Shinto god of rice.