Day 5: The Shinkansen and Arashiyama

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Today, we left the ultra modern Tokyo for the much older and quaint Kyoto.

Today was also the day I had to admit to myself that, yes, I have managed to get sick. Yesterday, I realized my nose was running much worse than usual despite taking my allergy medication, and today, my body has added a scratchy throat and a general feeling of crappiness. Yay.

But, you know, I’m in Kyoto, where there is much to see so I am powering through my days as best as I can.

To get to Kyoto, we took the Shinkansen, or the bullet train as it’s known in English. It’s a marvellous piece of technology. We zoomed right out of the city and into the suburbs and if you weren’t looking out of a window, you’d never realize it. It’s super quiet and smooth.

Even better, we got a fantastic view of Mt. Fuji, although we couldn’t get a picture of it because we were on the wrong side of the train. You’ll just have to take my word for it that it was beautiful.

Top: the view from my seat in the Shinkansen. Bottom: zooming by!

We arrived in Kyoto a little before 1:00 p.m. Jr had some business to take care of so he left for our hostel while Katherine and I dropped off our luggage in one of them many coin lockers and headed for Arashiyama in the western part of the city.

First was the Tenryuji Temple, a massive place with a large garden and koi pond. Despite all the tourists milling about, it was still a rather peaceful place.

Just north of the temple was the large bamboo grove. If you’ve ever watched films like The House of Flying Daggers, the bamboo grove is really like that!

Left: Tenryuji Temple and grounds. Right: bamboo grove.

By the time we got out of the bamboo grove, we were running short on time so we made the decision to skip the Togetsukyo Bridge and monkey park for a long hike in the opposite direction to see the Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple and the Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple.

Although I do kind of regret not being able to see the monkeys, I definitely enjoyed these two temples a lot. Even the walk to these temples took us through quiet streets lined with traditional tea shops, cute souvenir shops, and quaint houses with pretty gardens. The best part? There was a significant lack of tourists so it was very peaceful.

Top: a quiet residential street. Middle (L-R): a small shrine in Adashino Nenbutsuji; more bamboo. Bottom: many statuettes in memory of the dead.

Adashino Nenbutsuji is mostly a Buddhist temple dedicated to the dead. Naturally, it has a cemetery but it also features hundreds of little statues, supposedly to memorialize the dead, all surrounding the Buddha.

The temple also has a small bamboo grove leading to a small cemetery in the back. This time, I could get a picture of the bamboo withou having crowds of people obscuring the view.

After, we had just enough time to hike up even further to Otagi Nenbutsuji. It’s an interesting temple featuring thousands of statues representing followers of Buddha. Some were serious looking, but many others were comical and others looked very modern. For example, we spotted one with boxing gloves.

Otagi Nenbutsuji

After, Katherine and I made the long trek back and took the train back to Kyoto Station. We hit the public transportation around rush hour so we got to experience the joys of being squished on a train and a bus.

We managed to find our hostel, where we met up with Jr. Since it’s Jr’s birthday today (otanjyoubi omedetou!), we had dinner at his choice of restaurant…Matsuya’s, of course!

And so concluded our day. Oh, and here’s a cat:

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