Saturday, June 9, 2012

Japan : Kyoto/Osaka - Day 4

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Japan (Osaka & Kyoto) May 5th-11th 2012
Warm Welcome by Arishiyama Bears

Day 4 - Kyoto / Arashiyama (8th May 2012)

Cock-a-doodle-doo! Up & shine. Today is going to be exciting, we're taking a short trip to Arashiyama - a romantic place for couples. And we were going to take the romantic Sagano Train there.
We grab a light breakfast at Sizuya Bakery opposite the hotel, and pop onto the JR train from Nijo Station and alighted at the Saga-Arashiyama Station.

Sagano Train Route
From there we walked over to the adjoining Saga-Torokko station. 
It was just next to each other, but it was like entering a time-warp into the past - from a metropolitan station to a rustic one,. Sure, the station was busy, but it didn't have the maddening bustle of a Japanese station.

And here comes the Sagano Train
The nostalgic setting built up our anticipation for the train's arrival. And .... "Here it comes!"
It was more than expected, not just an old train, but a bright red locomotive pulling yellow coaches - reminiscence of "Harry Potter".

Scenic Hozu River
The Sagano Train runs 7km. along the scenic Hozu river. It is a joy ride of sorts, but a beautiful, romantic ride.
The best seasons to take the train is during Spring or Autumn as the landscape is more beautiful then. We were there in early summer, and the beauty of the route fascinated us, even then.

To add to the loving mood, the conductor even sang some lovely Japanese songs.
We got down at the last station Kameoka, but found out that it was far from our destination. Arashiyama was only one station down from Saga-Torokko. Well we had to get lost sometime, and luckily it was only at Kameoka and not Hokkaido. Nevertheless, it wasn't a wasted trip, it was a beautiful ride.
Not wanting to waste time, we took the regular JR train back to Arashiyama.


Arishiyama Town
Arashiyama is such a quaint place, take away the tourists and the cars; and it feels like a village from Samurai hey-days. It's surrounded by temples and parks, in a way similar to Kyoto's but with a more rural feel.

We reached the place just in time for lunch, and had it at a shop just outside the station. It was run by a friendly, old lady. Lunch was a mix of sashimi, tempura, teppan, etc. Somehow eating in the country-side was different. Or perhaps it was the old lady's good cooking.

Sea Urchin (Courtesy of Shizuoka Sushi & Sashimi)
Among the dishes we had was the sea-urchin sashimi (uni). Marina had it at Matsumoto and strongly recommended it. It was good, something like fish roe but more slurpy.

Tenryu-ji Zen Temple
Having had that interesting meal, we were ready to continue our tour - to the Tenryu-ji Temple. Having seen other temples earlier, this one wasn't that impressive, but..........

Sogenchi Garden : tree-lined avenue
But then the gardens grounds of the temple, Sogenchi Garden - that is something else.

It was picturesque, with different corners offering different settings - landscape avenues, tree-line ponds, etc. It's no wonder that the gardens is listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site.

Bamboo Forest

Well, enough of temples, next on Marina's and Lynn's iterinary - the Bamboo Forest. And it was not a wrong decision - the forest is not a big park but it was enchanting.
A serene place for self-reflection, searching for one's inner self.

And we did that - at one of a few secluded moss-covered ground spots. We just sat down and absorbed the comforting "chi" and had a good rest.

Kinkakuji Map
Full of "chi" and rejuvenated, we hailed a cab to head for West Kyoto, towards the Golden Pavilion,.
The cab driver surprised us! A tall fellow, he managed to stop his cab, slide over to the front passenger seat, opened that door and popped out. Standing tall, he opened the rear door for us, all within a couple of seconds. That's service!

The Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji)

See the crane? If not click on photo
We entered the grounds of the Kinkakuji, to  a lush grounds, rounded a corner to be greeted by a nice pond - with a crane on a small islet.

Basked in the sun, peeping through the foilage.

 AND came upon the GOLDEN PAVILION. The beauty of this shrine, changed my mind and -

- I was interested in temples again.

I can't help but post more photos of it.

Our Sumptuous Dinner
Having spent a fair bit on the taxi from Arashiyama to Kinkakuji we took a bus back to the Hotel for a quick bath &a short rest. This being our last night in Kyoto, we treated ourselves to a sumptuous Japanese dinner.

Ponto-cho Alley

Brightly Lit Umbrellas in Pontocho Alley
We were ready to explore the vibrant night life of Ponto-cho Alley

Pontocho Alley
Ponto-cho Alley is narrow 3-5m, with dining & drinking outlets lining both sides. These shops cater for various clientele - from the back-packers to the elite, making it a fun place to be.

It has been a long, exciting day. From a nice breakfast, to riding on a romantic train, an interesting lunch, beautiful gardens, serene bamboo forests, a sumptuous dinner and a stint at the night scene.


Related Blogs :

Japan : Kyoto/Osaka - Day 1 & 2

Japan : Kyoto/Osaka - Day 3

Japan : Kyoto/Osaka - Day 5

Japan : Kyoto/Osaka - Day 6

Japan : Kyoto/Osaka - Day 7

You may also be interested in :

China-Yunnan Day 1

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