I was in Kyoto Station. I headed over to the platform to grab a train to Arashiyama, but first I grabbed some sandwiches at the shop there, and gobbled them down on the platform to save money on cafes. I almost missed my train.
I made it to Arashiyama, and headed out of the station there. The crowds were massive. As I headed out of the station, I saw a bicycle rental shop right there. I wasn’t interested this time (because it’s impossible to bike in these crowds), but it’s something to keep in mind for next time.
I headed towards the main street in Arashiyama, and it was jam-packed with people. That was almost more interesting than the shops and the few street performers I saw.
Arashiyama’s main street is full of restaurants and souvenir shops that are designed to separate you from your cash. If you like browsing and eating, it’s definintely worth a trip.
I decided to head on over towards the giant bamboo forest I saw in one of the brochures for Arashiyama, because it looked interesting. In reality, it looked okay, but didn’t quite match up to the level of the magazines and brochures. (Of course.)
I lowered my camera a bit, and you can see the crowds!
One amazing thing: I spotted trash cans in Arashiyama! I could toss out my sandwich box from Kyoto Station there. Awesome. (No I did not take a picture. I probably should have.)
In the middle of the bamboo forest, I walked past a beautiful Shinto shrine, Nonomiya Jinja. It had great fall colors around its front gates, so there was a huge crowd trying to take pictures.
Getting around was kind of difficult at times, because there was a rickshaw service whose rickshaws were pretty big, and they would force the pedestrians out of the way so one or two people could get by. One guy would run in front of the rickshaw to clear the mob of people out of the way so the rickshaw could go through (although usually it was 2 or 3 rickshaws), and then another guy would bring up the rear.
It was really annoying.
After that, I came upon the main JR line, and had to wait for some trains to pass, so I took some train photos as they went by. I wasn’t the only person doing that. Trains are a bit of an obsession for some people here. It stands to reason: there’s a huge variety of models, and some of them look kind of cool. And there are enough varieties of trains and railway lines that fans can probably argue for days on end about which is the coolest.
I love this woman’s body language as the train approaches:
Back into the bamboo forest for a bit more.
My walking had an objective, and that was Nision-in temple. But I saw a lot of pretty sights along the way, like this cottage:
Looking back at the way I came (same really big field!):
I did some more walking, and then I finally wound up at Nision-in temple, on the side of a mountain. The views were great, and the foliage was pretty, too. I climbed the steep stone stairs up the side of the mountain for some great views of Arashiyama and Kyoto in the distance.
Going through the gate (I like this photo a lot):
The Honden, if I remember correctly:
Then I climbed a bunch of stairs into the cemetery on the top of the hill, and saw this beautiful view of Arashiyama and Kyoto:
To give you an idea of how steep the stairs were– going down was a little scary:
All in all, it’s a beautiful temple, and the walk there from the main street was also gorgeous as well. There were lots of fall colors and great scenery along the way. Another nice part about it: it wasn’t as crowded as the main street, and it definitely wasn’t as crowded as Kyoto.
Then I headed back towards the main street in Arashiyama again (still busy!):
I took a short break on a bench by some vending machines. That was a lifesaver. I had a Coke. It was in one of those oil can style aluminum bottles I only see in Japan:
Revived, I headed down the main street, all the way towards the Togetsukyou bridge, another famous Arashiyama landmark.
The sun was starting to set, so the scenery around there was especially pretty. The sun goes behind the mountains pretty early in that part of Arashiyama.
After all of that, I decided to head back to Kyoto Station. I had some fun trying to find new ways to get to the JR station in Arashiyama, but I eventually got there.
In Kyoto, I decided to have dinner at Kyoto Station, on the 11th floor in a place called The Cube, where you can find a bunch of different restaurants. Tonight I decided on an Italian restaurant that I had eaten at 4 years ago. The food was good then, and it was still good now.
500 yen got me 3 pieces of cheese, 3 slices of tomato, and some basil. Yikes. But I got a decent pizza for 1200 yen. I ordered a slice of cake for dessert that was only slightly more challenging than a Rubik’s Cube to open. It was bound in some kind of plastic that was apparently also used to seal away demons, but the cake was delicious.
Generally, food in Japan is expensive. Add to that the crappy dollar-yen conversion rate, and it’s even more expensive.
Sated, I headed down to the lockers to get my bags out, and headed to Osaka for the night.
The train ride from Kyoto to Shin-Osaka only took about 23 minutes, then a 10 minute wander through the maze that is Shin-Osaka station to the subway, and 1 stop to Nishi-something-or-other to the hotel.
That’s an interesting neighborhood. I got a weird vibe as soon as I left the station, but I shrugged it off. I got to the hotel, settled in, cleaned up, and headed out to get some food: breakfast for tomorrow and a late evening snack.
As I was looking for the 7-11, I was propositioned by not 1, but 2 very eager “massage therapists.” Yeah, it turns out it was that kind of neighborhood. They were aggressive, too. But I just kept on walking, got my food, headed back (alone!), and passed out.
Long day, but lots of stuff done.