Arashiyama

I said yesterday that today we would probably get up to something tiring and BY THE BEARD OF ZEUS DID WE EVER. I’m very tired. And very impressed with myself to be writing this blog post right now. So we got up and went to Arashiyama, a beautiful district of western Kyoto that feels a little more rural than the more central area. It is situated beside the Hozu river, and we had beautiful weather for it today, with bright sunshine and the horrific humidity we have become somewhat accustomed to. We went walking through the Bamboo Forest, down through Arashiyama Park, across the Togetsukyo Bridge, and up to the Arashiyama Monkey Park. Honestly, I thought the climb up to the Monkey Park could be my last. I was wearing shorts to try and keep my legs cool, but the sneakers I was wearing made my feet hot, and then the rest of me felt like lying down and dying, just so I wouldn’t have to walk anymore. I decided against it however, as I have a few things to live for. Up the top, you get a fabulous view of Kyoto, and a fabulous view of the bright red monkey butts of the Japanese macaques that live on the mountain. You can feed them, and take photos if you are respectful and stay away from them and don’t touch them – they are lovely and cuddly-looking, but they are wild animals. I am extremely glad I went up to the top.

We stopped to refuel with a coffee, iced chocolate, and complimentary origami supplies, then caught the bus back to Kyoto for an early dinner at Ippudo (aka our second home). We joined a huge crowd at 5.45pm in Gion for a show at Gion Corner which demonstrated seven types of Japanese performing arts – tea ceremony, flower arrangement, Kyo-mai dance performed by maiko, Koto Zither (a harp type instrument), Gagaku court music, Kyogen theatre (a comic play), and Bunraku puppetry. It was a beautiful display, but I feel it was too crammed – the whole performance was less than an hour. Also, get there EARLY to get a seat at the front. Otherwise you will spend the whole show trying to see over the sea of camera phones held aloft.

THEN we came home for showers and onsen. I am attempting to pack for Osaka tomorrow, and also to get an early night. Time will tell!

Advertisements

Arashiyama

This morning we got up early – too early! – and took a bus to Kyoto Station. After refueling, we took a train to a place called Kameoka and hopped aboard a boat sailing down the Hozu River. It takes, depending on weather, I think, between 1 and 2 hours to get down the river to Arashiyama, and it’s a very peaceful trip. There are rapids, and they look quite rough, but I was stunned by how smooth the boat is going over them. I think it has something to do with the fact the bottom of the boat is so wide and flat, but you just glide over the surface of the waves and it looks cool, but is very calm. The scenery surrounding the river is like Middle Earth, all tall forests and deep, green water and beautiful rock formations. It’s filled with ducks and cormorants and these tiny finch-like birds, as well as tortoises chilling on the rocks and watching you, and MONKEYS. We saw a couple of MONKEYS, you guys. They were up in the trees, eating fruits or flowers or doing whatever monkeys do, and they were small, about the size of a large possum. But I saw wild monkeys, so yep. Japan win.

Hozu River

 

Hozu River

 

Hozu River

We disembarked at Arashiyama and spent a couple of hours browsing shops, and went for a walk through the giant bamboo grove, which is a pretty magical place. I think half the population of Kyoto was in Arashiyama as well, but it’s Sunday, so we shouldn’t have been surprised. Arashiyama is a bit like Takayama, in that it’s not a massive, bustling city, but the tourism there is booming. We left at about 4.30, almost falling asleep on our feet. Crowds are tiring!

Bamboo grove

 

Arashiyama

We investigated a grocery shop and a book shop at Kyoto Station (the essentials), then headed back through CRAZY traffic on the bus back to the house. Dad made yet another delicious meal using udon noodles, soup mixes and some salmon. Utterly delicious. We are now all attempting to pack. We have to stay under 15 kilos for checked-in baggage on the flight home…