Alternative title, ‘A 2-minute
Stroll Scroll down the Kyoto tourist attractions.”
Despite the early morning and having done no research other than which stop to get off at, we do not have to neither worry nor read maps when arriving to Arashiyama rail station as there is already a decent amount of tourists out and about.
We target a couple with pretty looking cameras and then shadow them; trying our best to walk slow enough not to surpass them, yet fast enough to not lose them behind the next corner. All while crossing our fingers they are, in fact, also on their way to the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.
Perhaps you recognise the grove; it can be found on several top lists on essential things to see whilst in Japan. These lists also tend to bring up the topic of how difficult the task of capturing this place on photo in a way that does it justice is.
Well, they are right. Now you guys know also.
Back in the city, a train ride and four espressos later, we slowly make our way to the Nishiki Market – a narrow arcade market stretching for five blocks.
Via Happycow (as per usual) we find the all vegan restaurant Hale that is located within the market. The place is pretty well hidden if you do not know what you are looking for. Actually, it is proven difficult to find even if you DO know what you are looking for, as I have to walk past several times before finding its entrance.
Once inside, the place really feels like an oasis compared to the market chaos just outside.
On our way to Gion, aka the “Geisha quarters”, we stumble (quite literally) over Ryozen-Kannon when its massive sitting statue of the Goddess of Mercy surveying the city from her height of 24 metres suddenly hovers over us.
(My kind of philosophy if I ever open up a business ↑)
After this we collect our bags to check-in at our new airbnb out in suburbia and that is the end of that Wednesday.
Thursday calls for yet another early morning. We are at Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Temple, well before the gates open.
A security guy tells us to walk around the sides of the complex for 15-or-so minutes and there will be another gate that opens before 9am. Either he was pulling an early April’s Fool prank or something very essential got lost in translation, as we end up in the hills without a single alternative gate in sight. Atleast we got to enjoy a decent view from up there.
Back at the temple grounds, still mere minutes after its opening, the place was pretty darn crowded (I can only imagine how it would be like going around noon!) and thus it felt very much like we were sheep being herded around.
I guess that is the thing with this kind of trip; you have a limited amount of time and you want to squeeze all the must-see sights in, yet you end up feeling completely un-original chasing down the same postcard views as everyone else. But hey, I guess that is how tourism works ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
In the afternoon we join the crowd queueing up outside % arabica – the award winning coffee shop. (They also have a shop out in Arashiyama if you are needing a caffeine hit whilst exploring the Bamboo Grove!) These guys are really passionate about their doings, and it is easy to tell why the queue more often than seldom swirls its way down the street.
Also, check out the look of that sleek espresso machine?! Divinity.
Following along the tourist trail, we take the train out to Fushimi-Inari Taisha to climb up through its seemingly endless amount of torii gates in time for the sunset.
This one was a top pick from the trip’s bucket list. There are four kilometres of wooded pathway that crosses over Inari-san. The bottom bit is well crowded with people wanting to have their photos taken, you are basically a potential photo bomber every 6th step you take (but don’t quote me on those numbers!). The higher you proceed, the lesser the crowd. Top tip of the week.
About halfway up the mountain there is a beautiful pit stop with a view over Kyoto.
We climb up as the sun declines from the sky. Suddenly the crowds seem to have vanished and you can hear birds chirp and the light buzzing as power travels through the electricity wires.
For both brunch and dinner that day we went to Choice, which I think you can tell is a pretty top notch grade. I will write a seperate post dedicated to this place a bit further on.
This is part 3/7 of my Japan Photo Diary, the previous posts can be found here:
Next time we will do a daytrip to Nara & Osaka, and head out on a historical hike. Until then! x