On the eleventh day, we visited Kyoto (京都), the former imperial capital of Japan. Kyoto has a population close to 1.5 million and it is now the capital of Kyoto Prefecture, as well as a major part of the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan area.
We spend the majority of the time visiting various ancient shrines and other historical buildings. We did a lot of walking that day as a lot of these attractions are located in remote areas.
The first shrine we visited in the morning was the Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社). It is the head shrine of Inari, located in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, Japan. The shrine sits at the base of a mountain also named Inari, and includes trails up the mountain to many smaller shrines.
We headed to Arashiyama (嵐山) after that, a district on the western outskirts of Kyoto. Arashiyama was a scenic area with rivers and mountains. It’s a pity we came here during winter and the cherry blossoms which it is famous for was not in bloom.
At Arashiyama, we crossed the “Moon Crossing Bridge” (渡月橋) and also walked through the Sagano bamboo forest.
We then visited another shrine, Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺) which we did not go in as it requires an entrance fee and seems to involve lots of up slope climbing.
Hungry from all the walking, we had lunch in a small traditional-looking Japanese restaurant in the area. The food was pretty good, but the squatting tatami seats were a pain.
We went to more scenic sights and shrines after that. As it was drizzling, we did not pause much and were just briskly walking from one attraction to the next.
Mark persistently wanted to look for an attraction called the Philosopher’s Walk (哲学の道) which was recommended by his colleagues as a must-see in Kyoto for it’s beauty. We got lost looking for this place. This made the other three of us very pissed at Mark as our feet were sore from all the walking plus the rain made us wet and cold, upping the grumpy factor.
Eventually when we finally managed to find the place, it was a big disappointment as it was just a narrow path beside a tiny drain. Apparently, after looking at online photos, the area is most beautiful when there’s cherry blossoms. However, we came here in the middle of winter and saw only empty branches and a washed out canal. None of us got inspired after walking the Philosopher’s Walk.
The Philosopher’s Walk concluded our walking tour of remote shrines and scenic spots. We took a bus back to Kyoto Station after that and spent the rest of the day shopping.
The modern architecture of Kyoto Station was a far cry from the rustic beauty of the sightseeing spots in this imperial city. We visited a Tezuka Osamu specialty shop in the area where I bought an Astroboy tin can candy and a handphone strap.
We had ramen for dinner. Black and white soy ramen to be precise – served with black and white soy sauce respectively. The posters were very visually arresting, but the taste was average. We proceed to the supermarket after that to buy near-closing-time discounted food for supper. Since Mark said Kyoto is famous for their tofu, we bought a few types of tofu to try.
This ended our day tour of Kyoto. 🙂
Links to my previous blog entries on my Japan trip:
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