So, I still can’t get over how wonderful it is in Japan that I decided to chronicle our day-to-day experiences in that place. (But who am I fooling – I wanted to do this even before the trip!)
I decided to put Arashiyama on the first day while I am preparing our itinerary because I already liked it from the pictures. Plus the places were already walking distance from each other so no fuzz needed in knowing how to commute – I wanted day one to be hassle-free from the complicated train/subway system of Osaka. I know some people only take a half-day in Arashiyama and go to central Kyoto if they only had one day to spend in Kyoto but since we have three whole days – I wouldn’t mind spending an entire day in it. It is on the first day because I know it wouldn’t disappoint. 🙂
I think I woke up at 7am on our first day in Osaka. My friends were already up by 6am but they cannot make the heater in the shower function well until past 7. Morning stress. We left at about 9am or 10am, I’m not sure (I know super-late) but we weren’t morning persons from the start! and considering the one-hour (more or less) travel time to Kyoto – we arrived in Arashiyama at 11am.
Travel to Arashiyama
The subway trains in Osaka/Kyoto needs a little getting used to. I am always a sucker in knowing where to exit (remembering the HK subway experience) that’s why I thank God and whoever invented the Google maps because it helped me a lot in knowing where am I and where I need to go. Can we also have a Google maps on our road to life? So I will know if I am getting closer to my dreams? 🙂 I also relied heavily on the Japan Travel app (I am not promoting, promise!) but it is easier to travel with these two apps (still cannot use the maps.me app) because it indicates the time of the train, what platform (most of the time, but when we needed to make sure, we just ask the guards and they were nice and helpful), the stations that you will pass and the time when you need to change trains.
Which would have been so easy – if only we were following the app. But no, we hopped on the first local train to Kyoto and it took us longer than it should have. At this time – we weren’t aware, and this is me still awed by the hassle-free commuting in Japan that I still wish for it to happen in Manila – oh, what I would give to have a train from Manila to Ilocos! It is a good thing because we have our own seats in the train (maybe because the tourists all took the sub express or rapid express trains! Haha) and we also enjoyed the view outside the train. But then – the train we were riding on suddenly took a left turn and I knew we should have gotten off at the station before that so we got off at the next stop and rode back. Haha. First time mistakes. 🙂 Maybe this is the reason why we got to Arashiyama at 11am. But still – riding subway and trains in Japan is a breeze: perfect atmosphere, not so much people, comfortable seats, people don’t talk loud on the train – Japan is a commuting haven for me, and if I still don’t convince you then I don’t know how to. 🙂
Autumn Leaves and Paramore
We arrived at Arashiyama station minutes before 11am and I have urgent business to do- which is to book the concert tickets to Paramore. Ticket selling starts at 10am Manila time and considering the time difference – it is 11am in Japan. So, while everyone hurries to the exit, I found a spot where I can access the internet freely. And I am so, so thankful to the people I am travelling with (Shell peeps you know who you are 🙂 ) because they let me hijack 30 minutes to one hour of their time – while I am booking for the concert tickets which takes on forever, they were just there on the platform taking pictures because lo and behold – this is the reddest autumn tree we have ever seen! 🙂 I spent an hour but to no avail because it’s doomsday – I cannot book the tickets because the server is not responding. Defeated, I said we should get to the exit to continue our day.
Arashiyama First Sight
Our Icoca card does not have enough balance and yes, first time again – to reload, thankfully the Japanese peeps were very helpful even if there is a language barrier – it was still good. And because it is almost noon, we tried to look for somewhere we can eat. Looking back, maybe it is only me but I enjoyed my surroundings – the people rushing to the exit of the train station, people selling street foods, persons wearing kimono in Kyoto, and the ubiquitous transparent umbrella. I enjoyed taking pictures here and it’s been a while since I enjoyed taking pictures. 🙂
We were hungry but when we crossed the bridge going to Arashiyama proper – of course, we cannot not take a picture. Especially on the bridge. Or on the random autumn tree. Or just anywhere. It is cold but it is nice. I didn’t know I could experience that warmth in the cold weather of autumn. But it’s true – autumn gives you a certain kind of warmth, beautiful colours and even though everything is falling it still gives off a nice color.
An Abundance of Udon
The only thing that somehow bothered me in Japan is looking for food – because everything seems to go in lines. We somehow ended up in this Udon restaurant and I am talking to my younger sister (via video messenger) who is in Manila about our qualms in the Paramore ticket selling (I was almost in the midst of crying in Japan, no less – because here is the third chance that I could go to a Paramore concert ever since I listened to them back in 2007 – I’m old I know – and I blew the chance – but my little sister actually bought three for us!) that I didn’t spend much time in choosing which food to eat that I just chose this seafood udon randomly, I guess one can’t go wrong with seafood, isn’t it? But it really is an abundance of udon – haha – to the point that you’ll get sick with it. The food tasted great actually and the soup and the seafood but the abundance of udon is overwhelming. I enjoyed the food but since we ordered different foods – they didn’t seem to like it. And then there’s this “lasang-medyas” joke that didn’t help in the appetite at all. Ha! Curse that lasang-medyas actually. Hahaha 🙂 One of us didn’t really knew how to use chopsticks well that I took it upon me to teach him. (Been using chopsticks since highschool but only actually learned it in college) Haha.
Iwatayama Monkey Park
So after I have already written 1,170 words, we get to the first actual place in our itinerary – Iwatayama Monkey Park! Excited, we paid the entrance fee but we didn’t realise that we need to climb up to the top. The first flight of stairs were bearable and it is cold (which I actually like because I only like to climb mountains in the cold).
I was moving ahead of them because I don’t know – I was excited to go to the top? or that I wanted to enjoy the scenery alone? or that I wanted to take more pictures? I guess it is just my pace. The hike up was a bit short but I suggest you bring water because even if it’s cold, the climb was dehydrating.
Before you reach the top, there is this rest area and playground and when I spotted the swing, I rushed towards it! 🙂
And then when we get to the top, it has this amazing view.
And if that wasn’t enough, a rainbow has shown! (It was rain and sun, rain and sun that day at Arashiyama) I actually kept quiet when I saw the rainbow. Haha. Selfish me – I didn’t want others to find out, I only wanted it to ourselves. Lels. 🙂 This was the Iwatayama Monkey Park and there are a lot of monkeys roaming around but they were actually pretty scary. When this one monkey rushed towards us and I tried getting a picture – it was very blurred because I was so scared it would rush towards me.
But it still didn’t disappoint. We were high up in Kyoto and we can see everything! It was very cold but the colors everywhere is brilliant, we spend a lot of time just taking in the surroundings and taking pictures, of course. 🙂 We climbed down and in that road was the autumn foliage and maybe it is because there is no autumn in the Philippines that I appreciate the colors more.
We stopped at a coffee shop to rest. After all, we did climbed up and got tired. And also because the establishments is warm inside. So double purpose there. I ordered hot chocolate because of the not-coffee-person that I am.
Arashiyama Bamboo Groves
Braving the cold wind, we crossed the Togetsukyo Bridge. (Darn, I did not take a picture of the bridge because I am so preoccupied by the very very cold and harsh wind and the very nice scenery of the river) It was a challenge to cross the Togetsukyo bridge before dusk – the wind was very cold coupled by the breeze from the river and then the people were everywhere that we really wanted to cross the bridge in a hurry but you can’t because there’s people everywhere that you can only cross the bridge slowly.
It was like a 20 minute walk to the Bamboo Groves and there are so many people in here. I don’t know what’s with the crowd in Japan but they weren’t stressing or irritating unlike all the places I’ve been to – where whenever there’s a crowd I wish I could just disappear because I dislike crowds (except when I’m attending a rock concert or gigs).
It was a little bit sad that it is already dusk when we reached the bamboo groves. We also crossed the Tenryu-ji temple but we didn’t go inside – we headed straight to the bamboo groves where there were a lot of people as expected.
The bamboo groves were very tall almost reaching up to the sky (lels, joke) but it would’ve been nice to just walk there without the people but I guess that’s the good thing in Japan – even if you were surrounded by a lot of people – it doesn’t seem suffocating because they weren’t loud. I can enjoy my own quiet moment there which is good.
We took obligatory shots at the end and strolled back towards the main street of Arashiyama and we ate street foods – although they weren’t priced the way street foods were priced back home. Thinking about it – I was going to buy something but when my eyes flashed into gyoza, I immediately ordered it! Gyoza for the win! Thinking about it makes me hungry, wait I still haven’t eaten breakfast.
Walking in the Streets of Arashiyama
It was still early even if the dark tells you otherwise so we just strolled along the streets of Arashiyama. We entered store after store and also because there is a heater inside the stores. We also stumbled upon the Kimono Forest. There are a lot of souvenir shops there and art and art and art. Maybe when I’m old I want to have a store like that? Like the same kind of store in Cubao X? Or not. I’d get bored. Sorry. Mistake right there.
When we realised that we have to get dinner and almost all the restaurants have closed already, we travelled back to Osaka.
So it’s a goodbye to Arashiyama already. Crossing the cold Togetsukyo bridge once again. We headed to Dotonbori to have dinner and it was still an hours ride away. Local train again. We still didn’t know how to ride the rapid express. But at least – we get to sleep. Haha. Sleeping in public transport never goes old.
Walking to Dotonbori at night is very cold so what we ate is this noodle/rice/gyoza or chicken mix. And it was a hefty amount of noodle serving. And it tasted good! I miss it already. 😦 The food! I didn’t actually appreciate it while we were there but looking back I miss the good ole Japanese food. Even if they have no 100+ side dishes like in Korea. We didn’t stay long in Dotonbori because we were already tired and I guess it’s still day one – we are going to have a lot of time exploring Dotonbori – it’s just one station away from where we were staying.
Last Thoughts in Arashiyama
I guess this will be one of the place that you’ll come back to. We haven’t explored the far part of the Arashiyama because we started out late. But it’s good. We weren’t missing out on something because we enjoyed. Maybe some other time, I’d like to ride the Sagano train or explore the Hozu river or to wander along the deserted streets of Arashiyama but for now – it feels nice to remember but better to come back!
Arashiyama is a nice part of Kyoto and looking back, it was a good first day in Japan – not very tired but brimming with a lot of sceneries, especially that one atop Iwatayama Monkey Park. The autumn colors are so lovely, I wonder how Arashiyama would look like in Spring?