A Travellerspoint blog

Arashiyama Kyoto

Bamboo forest and cemeteries

sunny 14 °C

Today we are heading to Arashiyama which is at the very western side of Kyoto at the foot of the mountains which surround Kyoto. The most famous site is the bamboo forrest and lots of temples. We are going to the bamboo forrest, however, instead of temples we will be going to a couple of cemeteries which i have read about. As i mentioned earlier temples are everywhere and you need to pick your targets. Should be a great day.
Train was only 15 minutes from Kyoto station. After a 10 minute walk through some streets we were at the Bamboo forrest. After a few minutes Jen and I both felt a little underwhelmed. The bamboo was not that thick and there were power lines amongst them as well as the path needing some repairs. There were some small shrines in the middle which we visited, however, not a place i would recommend.
As i mentioned earlier there are heaps of temples here. I had read about a cemetery and shrine in the mountains which are off the tourist track. So we decided to visit these. Found the right bus and made our way to our first stop Adashino Nembutsu ji. This site is a cemetery with a temple on its grounds. A Buddhist monk had brought up to 8000 gravestones from this region to this site. There is a main area where the headstones are located and the rest of the site is a cemetery. There is a bamboo path at the back of the site leading to a large area with tombstones. We walked up there and there was an elderly lady there who showed us how to pay our respects at a water statue. She showed us the ritual you perform with water holders.Very nice. Lovely kept grounds and well worth the visit.
From there we walked to Otagi Nenbutsu ji temple. This temple was built in 794. After many natural disasters the temple was transferred to its present location in 1955. There are several buildings on the site and scattered amongst them around 1200 carved stone figures of Rakan who are disciples of Buddha. Loved this site. There were only a few other people there which made it feel special.
We enjoyed both of these sites and enjoyed the fresh mountain air and the lack of people. If you get to this area visit these sites.
We caught a bus back to Arashiyama and wandered down the main street. Stopped for an ice cream. Japanese love there ice cream. Even when it was snowing they were eating ice cream. The ice creams we had were awesome. Looked at a few shops and took in the people and surrounds. It was getting late so we decided to head back to Kyoto. After a quick train ride we were back at Kyoto. Stopped at supermarket and got some stuff for dinner. They have the best food. I got a big serving of sushi and pickled veges and some random japanese desserts and jen got a meat and salad roll. Tomorrow is our last day in Kyoto before heading to Osaka.

Posted by andrewjenny 01:40 Archived in Japan Tagged japan forest arashiyama bamboo owl otagi nenbutsu adashino nembutsu Comments (0)

Nara day trip

City of deers

sunny 11 °C

Today we are doing a day trip to Nara. The snow from yesterday has gone and we have been hit by a heatwave as today will reach a max of 11. Nara was the first capital of Japan in the 710. Therefore Nara is full of temples. The biggest and most famous is the Todaiji temple. Our plan was to visit this temple and its surrounds as well as the biggest attraction the deers. Train ride from Kyoto to Nara took about 40 minutes. Nice to get a look at more of Japanese countryside. The train station is right in the middle of town so we got out of the train and headed towards Todaiji temple. Within minutes we encountered our first deers. Deers on the path getting food from tourists. The food they are given is sold to tourists by vendors. They are called deer biscuits and the deers go crazy for them.
The deer are everywhere. On the paths, sitting in parks, next to the road but always aware of someone with the cherished deer biscuits. During our time Jen and I feed them three times with mixed results. First time was a disaster. When they surround you they nip at you or give you a gentle nudge to tell you i am here and give me a biscuit. Jen dropped her biscuits when they first surrounded her not ready for the onslaught. I managed a little better, however, i got nipped and bumped a few times. By the third time we worked out how to position yourself so it was a bit of a success. The fun is watching everyone else dealing with feeding them. We couldn't stop laughing at the scenes around us. Awesome fun. They are regarded as messangers of the gods and are therefore sacred.
We slowly made our way through the park and towards the temple. The temple was completed in the 8th century and houses the worlds largest bronze Buddha statue. Since its completion is has been burnt twice and rebuilt. Leading up to temple are large entrance gates and then onto the temple. It is an awesome building to behold and i don't think pictures can do it justice. Inside is the massive buddha and other statues. Amazing. We spent a while wandering around this temple taking in the ambience. Everyone seemed to be happy and enjoying the positive energy this temple gives out.
We decided to make our way back. Stopped at a cafe and had some lunch and a beer. Made our way back to the station and caught the train back to Kyoto. Another quiet night as we are heading to Arashiyama tomorrow. Nara was excellent and should be a must if you get to Japan.

Posted by andrewjenny 00:31 Archived in Japan Tagged japan temple statue nara buddha deer bronze todajii Comments (0)

Snowing in Kyoto

Winter wonderland

snow 2 °C

Woke up this morning to find it has snowed overnight. We could see snow covering the mountains around Kyoto. It has started to clear up when we set off to visit the Ginkaku-ju temple. Which was a 30 minute bus ride from Kyoto station. As we got closer the snow semed to have fallen a lot. By the time we got off the bus the streets and mountains around us were covered in thick snow. Awesome! Ginkaku-ji teimple is also called the Silver Temple and features as well as a lovely temple but some of the better sand gardens in Kyoto. However, due to the snow they had become a snow garden. You enter the temple and follow a path through the grounds taking you up the side of tne mountain and down again to the temple. I can imagine when everything is lush and green it would be great. However, the snow made it magical. I hope the photos do it justice.
After leaving the temple we made our way down the Philosophers Walk. This is a stone path running for about 2 kms. It is lined by cherry blossom trees and during the cherry blossom season it is crowded with tourists. Today we slowly wandered the path with hardly a soul to see. Taking our time enjoying the peace and quiet. The snow was slowly starting melt away and while is was cold it was great to be in the fresh air. We stopped at a couple of stores and had look. Found a great vending machine that sells warm drinks and stopped for a warm drink and take in our surroundings. This is the life.
Made our way to nanzen-ji temple. An amazing looking building. Didn't go up to the top as they wanted to charge 500 yen and thought we could spend money on something else (like food). We have plenty of more temple action ahead of us so we are picking our temple targets. We had a wander around the grounds and decided we needed some food.
There was not much around this area so we decided to head back to Kyoto station area. After a day in the snow we thought the best meal would be Ramen! Loving this stuff. Went back to ramen street and went for a store which did pork ramen with roast garlic broth. Now i said the other day that i had the best ramen ever. I am sticking to that comment. This ramen was awesome, however, not as good as the other day. I am sure we will have many more during our holiday.
Decided on a quiet night. Doing a day trip to Nara so need to get up early.

Posted by andrewjenny 03:00 Archived in Japan Tagged snow kyoto japan temple silver Comments (3)

Out and about in Kyoto

Loving this cold weather

sunny 4 °C

Another good nights sleep. Had some breakfast and headed out. Decide to get bus to our first destination Kinkaku-ji which is the Golden Pavilion. This is a temple covered in Gold Leaf. Bus ride went well and dropped outside Pavilion. The grounds outside were lovely and made our way through gates and the pavilion was the first thing we saw. Looked very majestic surrounded by a lake and manicured gardens. There were plenty of people there and we had to jostle for best positions. Have posted some video and pictures on facebook as well as a couple here. A path leads you around pavilion so you get a good view from all angles as well as up close. Enjoyed it a lot.
Next we headed to local subway station via a bus, getting a grip on this local transport, to head to local food markets. Nishiki markets are the local food markets. They stretch several blocks and the lane is only a couple metres wide so it can get very crowded. Lots of different foods to try, mainly seafood. We tried stuffed squid, scallops, eel, octopus with a egg in its head, oysters and sea urchin. It is a bit of a sensory overload, however, definitely a must if you get to Kyoto.
From there we headed to the Gion area which is the area where the geishas work. We found this area a little underwhelming. The buildings were lovely, however, it seemed like it is a place to visit at night which we will do another night. From there we headed to Kiyomizu-dera temple. This is an iconic place to visit in Kyoto. To reach temple you need to walk through some narrow streets which have been renovated to look like you have stepped back in time. They look great, however, the crowds were huge. Not much room to move. Got to the top and realised temple is going through renovations so it is covered up. Bummer. Had a look at some nice looking temples next door.
Decided it was time to head back to hotel and recharge. Grabbed a bus and got back in no time at all. They have great public transport in Kyoto. Back at the hotel had a couple of drinks and reflected on the day before deciding what to do for dinner. After a few drinks we decided we did not want to travel to far. The temperature had dropped to -2 by this time. So something nearby was in order.
Went across the road to a restaurant which served a bit of everything. Jen got some sashimi and i got some pork and egg with a side of noodle broth which was awesome. Topped off with a couple of beers. Not bad at all.
Felt like something sweet so dropped into local convenience store. Too much to choose so grab a selection. FYI I ate 3 of them.
Capped of a mighty fine day. Look forward to tomorrow.

Posted by andrewjenny 04:22 Archived in Japan Tagged kyoto markets japan temple market golden kiyomizu gion nishiki Comments (2)

Making our way to Kyoto

Its very cold

sunny 4 °C

Great nights sleep. We hit the bed and were out. Woke up this morning to a nice clear day. Listened to local news to hear that Japan is being hit by a massive cold snap. Heavy snow across the country. We are in the Kansai region which normally does not get much snow, however, areas in Kansai have been getting lots of snow. Osaka is not predicted for any but Kyoto where we are heading is expected to get a little. Max 4 min -4 today.
Need to get our travel passes sorted this morning and make our way to Kyoto.
Travel passes sorted. The Japanese are so helpful. They give you all options available, at the best price and then after deciding what you want explain everything to you. Excellent customer service. Train ride was good and got to Kyoto in about a hour. We managed to find our hotel and after dropping off our gear headed out for some lunch. I had read about there being lots of restaurants at the station. This place is not only a railway station it is a sensory overload. Amazing architecture.
Being a fan on Ramon we decided to head to a section of restaurants that serve only Ramon. Found a restaurant that served pork ramon. Ordered via vending machine in front and went inside to be greeted by a chorus of welcome from the staff. Within minutes jen and i had a bowl of the best ramon i had ever tasted. Awesome!
Time to walk some food off so we headed out to the Kyoto Tower to get a good look of the city from above. Some nice views of the city and gave us a chance to get our bearings.
In the evening we went for a walk around the city. It is always good to see a city at night. Grabbed some sushi and a couple of drinks then headed back to hotel for an early night.
Great first full day. Tomorrow we hit some of the sights of Kyoto.

Posted by andrewjenny 02:25 Archived in Japan Tagged kyoto tower japan airport Comments (0)

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