Day Seven: Arashiyama and Kyoto

Ok I’m going to try to crank out another post so I’m not back logged because it’s actually the most annoying to have to go through a whole day’s pictures to post a blog about yesterday’s photos.

I woke up around 6am and instead of blogging I decided to go on a walk in our area which is close to Nishiki Market. It seemed to take no time at all to get there but once I got there I realized a food stall market is not likely to be open at 7am. In fact just about everything was closed. Oh well. I was listening to Hamilton and the streets were quiet so I was pretty content.

I made my way back to the Kyoto hotel, partially walking underground between subway stations. I hate how my phone always assumes I’m writing stains not stations. Actually what I hate MOST is that it thinks I want airways not ALWAYS.

I was in search of a bakery to buy breakfast goods and found a place where I got an egg sandwich, green tea sponge cake and a little katsu chicken roll. Yum!

We then set off for Arashiyama. My take is that Kyoto’s transit is ok but not amazing. There are a lot of places where you have to walk another 10-15 minutes to arrive.  I guess it makes sense they can’t build stations smack on top of all these historic temples.
We had to take the subway then cable car to Arashiyama.

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Those poles are meant to represent bamboo. Very cute themed station!

They are smart about having riders pay at the end of the ride and for touristy places,  you pay as you exit the station rather than on the car. At first I thought everyone was going to bumrush the door and avoid paying as you do in SF, but everyone was so orderly and there are people waiting with buckets to take your coins.

We hit just about everything on my to dos in Arashiyama. Neither of us were interested in the monkey park. We did the Tenryuji Temple first, known for its zen gardens, fall foliage and mountain views. It was ¥500 entrance fee and I thought well worth it due to its giant gardens. My main goals for temples were:

☆ fall foliage
☆ night time illumination
☆ popular

Funny enough, Kiyomizura, which hits all of those, was not my favorite temple but that might be because it felt like fifty tourist buses had dropped off here when we arrived.

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Tenryuji Temple

We then continued on a journey that took us through the bamboo forest (smaller than I had expected) then through some small streets then to the temple I wanted, Gio-ji, known as a moss covered temple. Then back out to walk past the Arashiyama station and to Togetsukyo Bridge before heading to the JR station.

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I originally thought,  WOW so many geishas! upon arriving in Japan. then after looking at their socks and thinking, god they’re a little disheveled, I realized they were probably just tourists playing dress up. What a let down.

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My favorite was eating ice cream as we walked through the bamboo walk. I got green tea and roasted tea!!! SO GOOD. Even the cone is a perfect amount of crunch and butter. My main regret from this trip was not having enough green tea ice cream. On the other hand, we had the worst food on this trip on our walk back toward the station. Very poorly made takoyaki! The fried part was soggy. It makes me more committed to finding a Gindaco before we leave.

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Gio-ji temple, the moss covered temple that’s an uphill walk away

Off we went to Kyoto station! A modern transit building in an old world Japan. In my mind we were looking for cheap delicious restaurants but instead we ended up headed toward the department store area that had more modern architecture and naturally that led us to more expensive food. Oh well. We tried something new which was okonomiyaki, circular patties of noodle and egg and meat like pork or scallop, octopus and shrimp. It comes cooked but they put it on a low heat grill plate to keep it hot and from becoming soggy.  It was quite rich but a nice turn from the usual meal of… noodles (but in broth).

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Kyoto Station, part transit, part shopping, part food court

Then we took a bus to Kiyomizura temple, supposedly the most popular temple, famous for its wooden deck. Unfortunately we arrived after sunset so I feel like I didn’t see it in its glory. The night illumination started at 530 and we arrived at 520. Everyone was crowded around the deck and we stood there too, pretty much just staring at darkness. 530 came and went, and seemingly nothing had really happened. Maybe a few lights had come on but nothing grand! We started leaving the wooden deck and realized the view WAS the deck. Even then though, without a nice camera I feel like everything just just looks brown in photos.

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The souvenir streets here were a bit lacking. On the way up, Robyn did stop to do a sake tasting on one of the side streets. There were just too many tourists here, the kind that push people to get their photo. On the souvenir street, we did get a green tea cream puff which is one of my top hits of Japan.

We attempted to find dinner on Pontocho Alley but it didn’t have anything that looked intriguing and seemed overpriced. We ended up deciding we wanted to try mos burger, which appears to be their version of a Burger King. I got their classic bacon and cheese burger. Robyn got some sort of Tobiki burger. Not sure what that is. I just loved the atmosphere of being in a fast food restaurant after so many actual restaurants and station meals. We also got fries and two drinks.  To me, having a meal at a fast food place and not just a burger is a LUXURY.

I was thrilled to find a McDonald’s just two stores down, which I’ve always wanted to try in Japan. Not that I would’ve ordered it, but they didn’t have the rice buns that I was expecting.  They did have “Kalbi Macs,” presumably better quality beef hamburgers,  and ebi (shrimp) burgers. What I wanted was a green tea mcflurry, which did not seem to be something they served. We did get a shaka shaka chicken, which was just fried chicken,  and the best thing ever … choco pie?!?!??!!

Because I have honestly had pretty much everything we’ve eaten in Japan before, to me, this choco pie was truly novel and AMAZING. I don’t think it’ll come to America, it is delicious but is reminiscent of asian desserts where filling just goos out. This, along with takoyaki, is on my must try again list.

We took a cab back to the hotel, and after a shower I pretty much passed out.

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