Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Kyoto, Part 2: Some Prefer Nettles

Day 3: Arashiyama

On day 3 I basically followed the route I suggested in my previous post.

Walking west from Utano, it takes about 10 minutes to reach Hirosawa pond.

Hirosawa pond panorama
Panorama of Hirosawa pond.

Hirosawa boat
A fishing boat moored in the pond.

A small monument by the pond-side road.

Rustic buildings dot the far shores.

A villa on the eastern shore.

It's easy to forget you're in a city.

Farms and rice paddies lay between Hirosawa and Daikakuji.

The pagoda at Daikakuji.

Looking west from the eastern side of Osawa pond, towards the temple proper. There is an admission fee to enter that part of the grounds.

Looking north at the pagoda from the southern side of Osawa. Admission to the pagoda and pond area is free.

On the way to Senryoji.

Senryoji temple.

Just before Nenbutsuji.

The tori and fork in the road that marks the turning-around point of the stroll in Sagano.

traditional house in sagano
Traditional thatch-roofed buildings mark the northern end of the walk.

tourist shop and teahouse
The entire path down to the Arashiyama bamboo grove is dotted with tasteful teahouses and souvenir shops.

Potted maple at a cafe.

Temples hide in the hills along the way.

Hozugawa from Kameyama park
Kameyama park gives nice views of the Hozugawa river and Mount Arashiyama, which is especially attractive during cherry-blossom season and in the fall.

Bamboo grove
The Arashiyama bamboo grove.

Walking the bamboo grove
Taking a stroll in the bamboo. The path and the grove is quite short; only a few hundred meters.

Bamboo sheds it shoot covers
The scales from the young bamboo shoots are still visible. In the spring Japanese will go to wild bamboo groves and dig for fresh bamboo shoots to cook and eat.

Nonomiya shrine
Nonomiya shrine is at the bottom of the grove.

A wall and doorway near Tenryuji temple. The gardens of Tenryuji are very beautiful, but the temple is also very busy, and I don't usually pay to visit either the temple or the garden.

Togetsukyo bridge. The river is the Hozugawa above the bridge, but changes to the Katsuragawa below the bridge.

This sand garden is in front of one of the high-class restaurants on an Arashiyama side street.

Lantern, moss, and sand in restaurant garden.


In the afternoon I moved to a hostel in the center of town, and spent the evening around Kiyomizudera and Gion.

The entrance buildings by day. The main temple is further up and further back. It's not a temple I pay to see every time I visit.

View from a pavilion.

It's one of the busiest temples in Kyoto, even if it doesn't look it from these secondary buildings.

Kiyomizudera is connected to Gion by stone pedestrian streets lined with souvenir shops. The closer you get to the temple, the less classy and more boisterous they are.

Looking down from the top of Sannenzaka ("three years slope") street. Slip and fall and you'll be dead within three years.


Yasaka Pagods peeks up over Sannenzaka street.


Yasaka pagoda shows itself.

Down ninenzaka. Slip here and you only have two years.

The heart of ninenzaka.

Yasaka pagoda from the outlet of Ninenzaka.

Gion alley.

Gion restaurant.


This path leads up to the Otani temple.

Yasaka shrine is open 24 hours per day, and the lanterns burn all night.


Day 4: Eastern Kyoto

Day fours was rainier than the previous days, and not a great day to be a tourist or take pictures. I walked through Gion up to Kiyomizudera, through sannen- and ninenzaka to Heian shrine, followed Philosopher's Walk up past Ginkakuji, and then went over to Shimogama shrine before ending in the Imperial Palace grounds.

Afternoon in Gion.

I'm not sure who or what she was. She was not a Geisha or Maiko, and was making brief stops at shops.

Teahouse off sannenzaka.

Teahouse garden next to sannenzaka.

Bridge to small building at Chionin temple.

Heinz in the rain
Heian shrine is one of the largest Shinto shrines in Japan, but is only about 120 years old. The temple grounds are free, but there is a large garden for which admission is charged.

Near Nanzenji temple.

Garden along Philosopher's Walk.

Another view along Philosopher's Walk.

Honenin temple
Honenin temple.

Tori at Shimogamo shrine.

Shimogamo Shrine.

Hall at Shimogamo.

Palace Entrance
An entrance gate at the Imperial Palace.


I took the local train to Osaka, where I met with an old friend at Osaka Station for a few hours, before leaving for Hiroshima on the night bus. 

Osaka Station viewing platform
View from the roof of the North Gate building of Osaka Station City shopping center.

For the trip to Hiroshima, I took Willer Express. The overnight trip cost ¥4,200, less than half of the ¥9,900 shinkansen price, and also cheaper than the JR bus. In Osaka, Willer Express buses leave not from any train station, but from a separate Willer terminal located less than a kilometer from JR Osaka and Umeda stations.

Willer only seems to run their baseline buses on the Osaka-Hiroshima route (on some of the more popular routes they run different classes of buses, including some that only have 3 seats per row), but it was still quite comfortable. All of their seats have hoods that pull down and cover your head,giving privacy and making it easier to sleep. They also use a staggered seating system, so that the seats are assigned in such a way that you won't have anyone sitting directly ahead of you, directly behind you, or beside you unless the bus is more than half full. As my bus was less than half full, everyone had lots of space to recline as much as they wanted without inconveniencing anyone else. In Hiroshima, we were dropped off near Hiroshima Station.

Willer Express check-in office
The surprisingly stylish Willer Express station in Osaka.

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