06.07.2013 35 °C
We left our hotel early, planning to go to Hiroshima for the day. We arrived at Shin-Osaka at 9am; however the next possible train wasn’t until nearly 11.30am. We decided to head to Kyoto and boarded the shinkansen. While on the train, we ate our sweet rolls, purchased for breakfast. We arrived in Kyoto and booked out tickets for Hiroshima tomorrow morning.
We took the subway to Karasuma Oike and our hotel wwas about 100m round the corner from the station. Very easy to find. We had high hopes of finding it again after dark. We were unable to check in, but were able to leave our bags, saving ourselves 1000 yen on luggage lockers. While at the hotel, we formulated a Kyoto plan. We headed off to Imperial park, with Chris convinced of the direction. Although wrong, we did find a brilliant backsatchel show, which we will return to as it didn’t open until 11am.
We wandered around the park getting incredibly hot and it wasn’t even 11am. We found the palace in the middle, although this was not at all pretty from the outside. It was however offering the only shade along its moat. I went to walk along the other side of the moat, where the shade was best, when an alarm sounded and a pre-recorded Japanese message played the second my foot landed on the other side of the moat. There were no signs suggesting that you shouldn’t walk there! A bit further up, another lady made the same mistake and the alarms sounded again.
As you could not visit the palace until 2pm, we sat under some trees and worked out what to do next. We decided to head to Arashiyama where there is bamboo grove.
We got back to the subway and needed to change lines. We tried to use our ticket in the barrier, but it already needed topping up by 40 yen! We went through the barrier, and although we couldn’t find a price for the journey, we thought it could have been around 1200 yen. We decided to cut our losses and buy a day pass for 600 yen and take a JR train to Arashiyama, as Arashiyama station fell outside the boundary of the metro ticket day pass.
We arrived at Arashiyama just before 1 o’clock and began the 20 minute walk to Bamboo Gove. We found a fairly main street and decided to stop for lunch at an Italian offering a set menu for 1150 yen, which included a salad to start, followed by tomato and chicken pasta with bread and a cup of coffee to finish. All of this came with the free water, topped up regularly!
After lunch we continued a little way up the road before arriving at Bamboo Grove. It was beautiful. The bamboo trees were so wide and all arranged so neatly. It was really picturesque and also a lot cooler!
Bamboo Grove: the photos don't even begin to do it justice!
In the middle of Bamboo Grove was this peaceful and somewhat romantic temple gardens. We walked around, admiring the variety of flowers. In the middle was a large carp pond, which had a stunning backdrop of the gardens and the mountains. There was also a huge temple, which we thought we could look around too with our ticket, but it turned out to be a different attraction. As all the walls were open and we’d walked around it twice, we decided not to bother going in.
We returned to the Bamboo Grove and headed out towards the river. By the river there was a boating lake. Normally I would be desperate to take a boat out; however this boating lake was completely in the sun and this was what felt like our hottest day so far. Also it cost 1400 yen.
We continued up the river, watched a man fishing in the shallow waters before arriving at the perfect point for a paddle. There was a ‘wall’ rocks running across the river, creating a small 1ft high water fall as it changed level. After about 5 minutes, Chris joined me in the water.
Man river fishing
We walked into town and caught the train back into Kyoto, changing on to the subway. We headed back to centre of Kyoto station, which has an impressive arched roof starting about 5 floors up and peaking in the middle, some way above the 10th floor. On one side there is a department store; we had a browse at the stationery department; and a roof top terrace with ornamental gardens.
Kyoto train station
To reach the other side, there is a skyway roof, a passageway which runs along the top of the roof. This walkway offered viewpoints across Kyoto. I would like to go back after dark; hopefully tomorrow evening.
Chris and I posing on the skyway roof
On the other side was a terrace with trees lit up by fairy lights. We ventured back on the subway and travelled to Kamo-Gawa river, which was lit up with fairy lights, with a path of bamboo canes, with leaves attached and fairylights containing wishes on coloured paper.
Decorations along the riverbank
We got dinner from a Lawsons supermarket and ate it next to the river. Once finished we walked along the river before looping back into town, heading along Ponto-Cho, a narrow alley street with many shops, restaurants and bars all the way along. Lined up were loads of Japanese lanterns. This was an incredibly busy and bustling alleyway.
Alleyway all lit up
We finally checked into our hotel, worn out from te heat and the day’s advetures, not looking forward to lugging our bags up to the room, only to be asked for our luggage tag and on handing it over we were pleasantly informed that our bags had already been taken up to the room.
We went to be early, in preparation for our long day tomorrow.