We just finished a fantastic day of sightseeing in the Arashiyama area of Kyoto.
After wedging ourselves onto a packed train we had a thankfully short journey to the Arashiyama station. There were a few must-sees I wanted to check off my list: the bamboo grove, Otagi-nenbutsu-ji (a temple noted for its many statues), and the kimono forest.
It was lunch time when we started walking through town so we stopped at a tiny restaurant for some steaming hot yakisoba and matcha ice cream for dessert. Thus fortified we began our explorations
Tenryuji Temple is the first site most visitors to the area experience. We chose a ticket only allowing entry to the gardens and not the buildings as we were more interested in the fall colours and making our way to the bamboo grove. The gardens are massive! And peaceful despite the huge crowds walking through. We didn’t linger long though as I knew we had a fair amount of walking ahead of us.
Next stop, the Bamboo Grove. Again, despite the incredible numbers of tourists making their way down the path, the grove is very tranquil. And really lovely. Tall stalks of bamboo gently swaying…. and yet we continued on.
Trying to keep to our path with the interesting signage along the way was a bit of a challenge. We did manage to stay basically on track which was a nice change. There are so many temples and shrines and other sites along in the area that I can’t imagine it would be possible to see them all in one day. We only stopped at a couple.
Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple – to see the thousands of Buddha statues which were originally gravestones for the dead who were buried in the area. The stones were scattered all over until about 100 years ago when they were rediscovered and brought to the temple. The temple grounds are quite interesting to wander.
Otagi-nenbutsu-ji – more statues!! But there are hundreds of statues of the disciples of Buddha. All with different facial expressions and characteristics. They are wonderful! Well worth the walk to see them. It’s just unbelievable how many there are. And many of them are adorable or funny or both. It’s probably my favourite of all the temples we’ve visited thus far.
After spending a fair amount of time taking pictures of the extremely photogenic statues, we started our walk back to the train station area. Once there we went to Togetsukyō, the bridge with views of the beautiful autumn foliage on the nearby hills.
One last place to visit was the train station which has a display called the kimono forest. Kimono material in cylinders lining a pathway. Tough to describe, it’s much more impressive than it sounds. More picture taking there, and then to our final stop, still in the train station, the foot bath. For only 200 Yen (about $2.45 CAD), you can soak your weary feet in a hotspring with other savvy travelers! And you even get to keep as a souvenir the little towel you’re given to dry your feet! Heck of a bargain.
After that we caught the train back to Tokyo and finished our day with dinner at McDonald’s. I know I know, there’s tons of amazing food in Japan. I totally agree. And it’s crazy to eat at McDonald’s with all those better options out there. It’s true. But I do like to eat once at a McD’s when I travel to check out the very different local menu items you’d never see anywhere else. Tonight we had the fillet o’shrimp sandwich and corn soup. Pretty tasty actually and somehow entertaining.
That’s about the summation of the day. Packing to do tonight so we can check out and make our way to Tokyo tomorrow after our tea ceremony!! I get to learn to make matcha. Yay!!