Day 3: Arashiyama, Kyoto

Little o-jizos

We slept in a little bit on Day 3.  Then it was off to the Western part of Kyoto to Arashiyama, a beautiful, less urban part of the city where we explored several temples and walked through beautiful bamboo forests.

We took the public bus with a few dozen of our new best friends for half-an-hour.  Hmmm, this was not the best way to start the day and may I suggest the train in the future?  Both the JR and Keifuku Electric Railroad head out that way and it may have been more enjoyable.  Also, the Randen line is a streetcar line that goes out that way.  That also may have been nicer.

Top: Tenryu-ji garden Bottom: Happy Dad on Tatami

We arrived and saw the Togetsukyo bridge crossing the Hozu river.  It was really pretty but I knew we had a big walking day ahead of us so we just admired it from the bus window as we headed to the Tenryu-ji bus stop.  Tenryu-ji is a beautiful Buddhist temple with gorgeous gardens that include the nearby mountains, Kame-yama and Arashi-yama, as part of the recruited landscape that is part of the garden view.  Shakkei is the term for using surrounding landscape as part of the garden composition.  The garden was designed by Muso Soseki (early 1300s), a master gardener, and it’s thought to be relatively unchanged from its original form.

The temple served as the only legal middleman for China-Japan trade in the 1300s-1400s.  As a result, it became very wealthy.  We thought it was really beautiful and Dad once again fell in love with walking on tatami mats.

Top: Washi paper fans Left: Flowers at Gio-ji Right: Bamboo forest

We walked around the gardens and then went out the North Gate to the Sagano Bamboo Forest/Trail.  It was really pretty, which is not how I ever really thought of bamboo.  I always thought bamboo was relatively common and almost weed-like since it grows so fast and spread but it is really pretty and the trail was so quiet.

We exited the trail and went to a cute coffee shop/pizza place for lunch.  It was clean, cute and airy.  The pizza was delicious!  I wish I wrote down the name.  I thought I had it on the receipt but when I asked Miyumi-san to translate, she said it just said, “Receipt.”  Oh.  *Sad trombone*  But if you want to go, make the a right at the bamboo forest t-intersection, walk past Okochi Sanso, make your first right and its the third(ish) building on your right (a field will be on your left).  After lunch, we went to a small shrine across the pond which ended up being the Shrine to the God of Hair.  This made for a very funny joke the next day when Dad told our tour guide that the day before he went to the shrine, he was bald!

Then…we started walking.  We found a beautiful washi paper store and bought quite a few things.  In return, they gave us a walking map and highly recommended Gio-ji.  I’m so glad they did.  It had my favorite moss garden of the trip!  It was so serene and pretty.  I highly recommend it, too!

Next was what I call “The Letdown Temple.”  I really wanted to see the temples with the expression-filled Buddhas.  When I came across the sign for Adashino Nenbutsu-ji and the 8000 Buddhas, I thought I was in luck.  Eight THOUSAND cool carved Buddhas.  Yeah!  Well, nope. The sculptures were more like lumps of rocks with some features here and there.  Boo hoo!  Where were my funny-faced statues?!?!?

YAY!  My favorite temple with scary guard statue (top right) and resident bell-ringer (bottom left)

Up the road!  Yes, uphill (woo hoo, parent torture tour continues!) about 10 minutes past the Ichi Torii gate (keep it to your left) was the Otagi Nenbutsu-ji temple.  Notice how only the first word is changed.  Tricky, tricky.  Anyway, HERE was the temple I was looking for.  There were so many kawaii statues.  And although there are only 1200 instead of 8000. I was very happy!

Dad had my camera and documented his favorite thing: tourists taking selflies.  One picture is not a selfie (guess!)

The end of the temple touring day was nearing and since we were on the Western side of town, I wanted Mom and Dad to see the Golden Temple, Kinkaku-ji.  It was crowded and a very different vibe from Arashiyama but I’m glad we went.  We didn’t have time for Ryoan-ji, but fortunately we saw it our last day of Kyoto (foreshadowing!).

Dinner was tasty.  We went to a Kyoto place that I read about on a blog that must be in every guidebook because it was completely filled with white people.  That was a first for me in Japan- even base is more diverse!  But the gyoza were pretty awesome.  Then we went to a chain izakaya and ordered lots of delicious food in my very best J-english.  Then it was time for bed.  We had a tour guide the next day.

Oyasuminasai!

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