The Unexpected Japan Trip [Part 2]: Kyoto
I have two places I intended to go in Kyoto. The first one was Arashiyama. Since I was staying in Osaka, I’ll just give the way I took from the station near my place. From Hankyu Railway Kami-Shinjo Station in Osaka, take the Hankyu Main Line [towards Kawaramachi] to Katsura Station and transfer to Hankyu Arashiyama Line towards Arashiyama.
Get off at Arashiyama Station. The one way trip takes about 1 hour 13 minutes and costs 370 yen. The Hankyu Arashiyama Station’s location is on the opposite side of the river, about a 5-10 minute walk from central Arashiyama.
Arashiyama is a pleasant, tourist district in the western outskirts of Kyoto. The area has been a popular destination since the Heian Period (794-1185), when the nobles would enjoy its natural setting. Arashiyama is particularly popular during the cherry blossom and fall color seasons. I went during the summer so don’t hope any of cherry blossom pictures from me.
The Togetsukyo Bridge
The Togetsukyo Bridge spans the Katsura River, on whose surface is reflected Arashiyama. This bridge, which is famous for its cherry blossoms and autumn leaves, enhances the elegance of Arashiyama. Togetsu means “moon crossing”. The present bridge, designed as if it melts into the beautiful scenery of Arashiyama. If you are in the right spot, you are able to capture this amazing bridge, but for me, when I saw this young lady was sitting down alone with her mineral bottle, I did not care much about the right spot because I just wanted to capture this rare moment. She did not have to talk at all but I could feel her from her behind.
Still in Arashiyama, Kyoto, Japan. This place called “Bamboo Groves” have been on my lists for a long time, even before I knew I would go to Japan. I saw it in Anime when I was a child and I just wanted to go there. When I was told that I would go to Japan, I did not have any particular places to go BUT I wrote this place in my list without knowing where it is located. Guess what? Google knows everything, with all the searching, Here I was! The feeling when the place you were could previously only seen in pictures or tv, but then you went there, it was awesome!
The walking paths that cut through the bamboo groves make for a nice walk or bicycle ride. The groves are particularly attractive when there is a light wind and the tall bamboo stalks sway gently back and forth. The bamboo has been used to manufacture various products, such as baskets, cups, boxes and mats at local workshops for centuries. Another good time to visit is during December’s Hanatoro illumination, when lanterns line the streets and bamboo groves.
I am not a huge fan of temples or shrines though, this place were recommended by a friend of mine. When I told him that I would go to Arashiyama, this was what he said to me “you should go to tenryuji temple, just go! I know that you are not a temple person, but please just go! It’s one of the must visit temple” and see how lucky I was, I even got the change to capture this one when no one was around. Dedicated to my friend!
Tenryuji is the largest and most impressive temple in Arashiyama. Ranked among Kyoto’s five great Zen temples. The temple is one of Kyoto’s many world heritage sites. Tenryuji was built in 1339 by the ruling shogun Ashikaga Takauji at the beginning of the Muromachi Period (1338-1573). Tenryuji is just a short walk from the Keifuku Arashiyama Station, which is connected by the small Keifuku trains (also referred to as Randen) with the Ryoanji/Kinkakuji area and Omiya Station along Shijo-Dori Street. The temple can also be reached on a 5-10 minute walk from JR Saga-Arashiyama Station, which is connected to Kyoto Station by train (10-15 minutes, 240 yen).
Remember when I wrote about walking aimlessly, ready to be surprised what it comes along the way. This was not coming from walking aimlessly tho. I was meant to be looking for a restroom when I found this place. It was located behind the food court in Arashiyama, I learned later that it was Arashiyama Station, which connect to Kyoto’s centre and what made me impressed more was something “new” around the station.
The most attractive feature in Randen line or known as Kyoto’s Keifuku Arashiyama line is the so called “Kimono Forest” decoration. It consists of pieces of textile dyed in the Kyo-Yuzen style, covered with acrylic fiber and shaped like a 2-meter tall cylindrical poles installed around the station and the railway tracks. There are over 600 of them all over the station grounds! If you take your time to inspect them closely, you will immerse yourself in the beautiful world of Kyoto’s textile works. It feels like you’re in a museum, even though you were at the station!
The daytime view is of course impressive, but I recommend you see the decorations at night! There are LED lights which incorporated into the poles and the whole place turns into a mystical light forest. Truly a “Kimono Forest”! I did not manage to go until the end of the Kimono lane. They say that there is energy spot “Ryu no Atago.” The water springs from 50 meters below ground and comes from the underground water sources of the sacred mountain Atago.
FUSHIMI INARI SHRINE
I spent too much time in Arashiyama which made me forget that I still have another place to go. For this place was in my first list so I decide to go back to Kyoto in the next day.
Fushimi Inari Shrine or known as Fushimi Inari Taisha is an important Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto. It is the most important of several thousands of shrines dedicated to Inari. Foxes are thought to be Inari’s messengers, resulting in many fox statues across the shrine grounds. Fushimi Inari Shrine has ancient origins, predating the capital’s move to Kyoto in 794.
They said the primary reason most foreign visitors come to Fushimi Inari Shrine is to explore the mountain trails. The shrine buildings themselves are also attractive and worth a visit. At the shrine’s entrance stands the Romon Gate. Behind stands the shrine’s main building (Honden) and various auxiliary buildings.
At the very back of the shrine’s main grounds is the entrance to the Torii gate covered hiking trail, which starts with two dense, parallel rows of gates called Senbon Torii (“thousands of tori gates”)
Fushimi Inari Shrine is famous for its thousands of vermilion Torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings. The trails lead into the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari, which stands at 233 meters.
The hike to the summit of the mountain and back takes about 2-3 hours. However, you are free to walk just as far as they wish before turning back. Along the way, there are a few restaurants offering locally themed dishes such as Inari Sushi and Kitsune Udon. After about a 30-45 minute ascent in the density of Torii gates, visitors will reach the Yotsutsuji intersection roughly half way up the mountain. There are some nice views over Kyoto you can enjoy, and the trail splits into a circular route to the summit.
Just like Bamboo Groves in Arashiyama which had been on my list for a long time. This place was there wrote along with it. I could not recall why I wrote it, but when I was searching for Arashiyama which apparently, located in Kyoto. This place was also there so I took the change to go there. It is a must visit place if you are coming to Japan especially to Kansai.
Every trip should has its own story. I always am wanting to make a different story in each trip. “This trip has to be different” that’s what I always say before I start a trip. Who says backpacking is not fun. Get lost and find a way are the unique color in “backpacking”. This Japan trip has become an unforgettable one. Sometimes the unplanned one is more precise and the special sensation of a journey.