Japan trip September 2017

8th Day In Kyoto, Japan

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Round Two At Saga-Arashiyama

We got up on time but we took our time on getting around and just talking this morning.  Dana wanted to go to Saga-Arashiyama.  If you have been keeping up with my blog then you would know that I have already been to this place.  But it was raining and I didn’t get to see the other sites that are that area.  Since it was a sunny day today I decided to go with her.

In our conversation this morning, Dana was really looking forward to seeing the monkeys on Mt. Iwatayama that is in the same area as Saga-Arashiyama.  Dana grew up in New York City and never seen monkeys outside the cage.  But for me, because I live in Taiwan, I was not looking forward to this site.  In Kaohsiung, we have a mountain called Chai Shan (Monkey Mountain).  We call it monkey mountain because this mountain is roaming with monkeys everywhere.  There is even a university in that area and the students would tell me that the monkeys will steal your food from you.  If you have food in your bag the monkeys will steal your bag and open it up just for the food.  These monkeys are very smart and aggressive when it comes to food.  So in my head, these monkeys in Japan would probably be the same I thought and I was not looking forward to seeing them.  But I’m doing this for Dana and I went with her anyway.

We left a little late to get to Saga-Arashiyama.  We got there around 11 am.  It was already crowded with people and busy.  I wanted to try riding a bike around Saga-Arashiyama.  We found a sign that told us where a bike-rental store was at.  We talked to the owner and got our bikes.  But we had to return them before 5 pm.  We figured that would be enough time.  The owner also gave us a map and showed us how to get to some of the sits in Saga-Arashiyama and where we can and can’t park the bikes at and where we are not allowed to ride our bikes at. We got on our bikes and we were on our way.

We got to explore the area a bit and see some interesting houses, a meadow field, and we even found 100yen drink vending machine.  I was really happy about this one.  And it wasn’t just one vending machine that had drinks for 100yen, there were three other vending machines next to it that was also 100yen with different drinks in it.  Usually, in the tourist sections, you would not find 100yen vending machines.  So that was a fun discovery.

Togetsukyo Bridge

We finally made it to the Togetsukyo Bridge.  We decided to ride our bikes the rest of the way there, but we ran into a small problem.  There were so many people there that it was too difficult to ride our bikes.  So we tried to find somewhere to park our bikes.  We found some bikes that were covered up with a tarp and some bikes along the fence.  We thought we could park there.  But we saw a sign saying that we couldn’t park our bikes there.  So we rode to the back of the building and parked our bikes back there.

We were getting a little hungry so we found a coffee shop that had some food and AC.   We got a table that was next to the window where you can the bridge and the beautiful scenery.  We ordered our food and we just talked.  After we were done eating we went straight to the bridge.  It was an amazing bridge to look at and take lots and lots of pictures.  You can see the boats that were seating on the outside of the bridge.  And the beautiful mountains in the background.  I can see why this place would be popular in the fall and spring.  You would be able to see the color changing from the trees in the background of the bridge and in the spring you could see the cherry blossoms from the tree behind the bridge.  But the trees were just starting to change color but not enough color yet.  Manly just green still, but that is ok, it was still a beautiful place to see any time of the year.

Jojakkoji Temple

After we crossed the bridge, we went to the left and saw a sign for a temple called Jojakkoji Temple.   There were two ways to get to the temple.  One way was following the road and find the main entrance.  Or you can go up this staircase that takes you up through some nature areas and smaller temples and you will come to the temple through the side.  We saw some high school or university students that were going to the same temple.  They decided to take the side entrance. We just followed them and took some pictures on the way there.  It was very nature like on the way up.  There was even a small temple that was locked up but I was able to get some nice picture of the beautiful garden.

We kept going up the stairs and we finally made it up to the temple.  The temple was very nice looking.  On the side of the stairs, we saw some old looking lamp post that had a house on top of the post with green moss on it.

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The temple had a few interesting thing to see and when you turn left to of the temple you get a nice view of Kyoto City with the mountains in the background.

Mt. Iwatayama (Evil Monkeys)

After we were done looking at the Jojakkoji Temple, we started looking for the evil monkeys, I mean, the cute monkeys that live on Mt. Iwatayama.   We walked down the main road and passed the bridge again from where we first started and found the main entrance to see the monkies.  You had to pay a fee to get in and then you have to walk for about 20 minutes up the mountain.

It was fun hiking up the mountain.   We got to climb some stairs and walk along some nice, wide walking path.  It was nice and calm and just peaceful to walk through.  Not too many people and it was just calm.

We knew we were almost to the top of the mountain because we started to see warning signs about the monkeys.  The sign would tell you not to feed the monkies.  Don’t point your camera or smartphone directly at the monkeys.  Keep at least 2-meter distance from the monkey.  Don’t crouch down to take a picture of the monkeys.

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We were almost to the top when we walked into a park kind of area for kids.  There was a swing, a seesaw, and some tables for parents to seat at.  A small building to the side.  And a rope that went to one side of the tree to the other.  Connected to the rope was a metal stick that you could hold on to and slide across the rope with.  We kept going up the mountain and then we saw a metal slide that went down a small mountain that was part of the park for the kids.  There were some stairs on the side of the mountain that we used to get pass the slide.

 

When we got to the top you can see all of Kyoto.  They even had a seat of tower optical binoculars that you could look through.  Also, some benches you could sit on to just admire the view.  There was also a small cabin that had wire gates on the windows.  You can go inside this cabin to get souvenirs, water, and buy food to feed the monkeys with but you have to feed the monkeys from inside the cabin for your protection.  You don’t want the monkeys to jump on you and grab the food right out of your hand.  At less this way you are protected from the monkeys and the monkeys are protected from you.

These monkeys didn’t seem so bad like the one in Taiwan.  They seem less aggressive.  Some of the monkeys were even carrying a little baby is on there back or they were hanging on to there mothers stomach.  I kept walking along the pathway where the other monkeys were hang out at.  It’s a small pond area and you can see more monkeys just chillin out there.  I was taking some pictures of the monkeys and I forgot that you weren’t allowed to crouch down to take a photo.  I do it all the time in Taiwan with the monkeys and never had a problem.  I just make sure the monkesy are not looking at me and I’m not too close to them.  I was taking a picture of a monkey while crunching down, and I hear someone behind me whispering to me about how I shouldn’t be crouching down.  After he said that to me I got back up and went on my way.

I went back to the cabin and went inside to get some water.  I paid for my water and found a chair inside the cabin.  I was watching other people feed the monkeys.  Then they were telling everyone to go outside because the crew was about to call all the monkeys to feed them.  The crew had a special sound for the monkies that would let them know that it was feeding time.  The crew started to through some food on the ground for the monkeys and the monkeys where coming from all over to get the food.  Everyone stood outside to watch the monkeys get feed.  I stayed inside and to relax and it became so peaceful after everyone went outside to see the monkeys get feed.  I wasn’t interested in it.  I don’t care for monkeys and just wanted to sit down and relax for a little bit.  After I was done relaxing, and the monkeys were done eating, I went outside to sit on the bench and just admire the view.  Dana was still having fun taking pictures of the monkeys and I took a small nape on the bench.  I don’t know how long I slept there but by the time I woke up my arm was a bit red.  Dana came up to me and told me what she saw and how much fun she was having.  I was happy for her.  I’m glad she had fun and enjoyed herself.  I’m glad I did go with her in the end.  I enjoyed seeing the difference on how the monkeys are in Japan then they are in Taiwan.  Also, how the Japanese people take care of the monkeys here.

After Dana was done we went back down the mountain.  We sat in the park area for a little bit trying to decide if we wanted to try the rope with the metal stick on it.  We saw some guys swing from it first and it looked fun.  So we just waited for them to get done.  But then another couple went and swung on the rope.  We decided in the end not to do it.  Dana was too shy to swing on it and I really didn’t care either way.  I was getting a bit tired at this point and when I get tired I get into the whole ‘I don’t care what we do’ kind of mood.  We decided to go back down the mountain.  It didn’t take us to long to climb down the mountain.  By the time we knew it, we were back to the entrance.

Food and Returning the Bikes

We came back to the bridge again and as we crossed the bridge we went on the other side to take more pictures.  After we were done taking pictures we decided we wanted to walk to the Bamboo Forest but we had to return the bikes before 5 pm.  We are also not allowed to ride our bikes in the Bamboo Forest and the street was still heavily crowded with people still so it made it impossible to ride our bikes there.  It was only a little after 3 pm.  Since it was still a little early I wanted to check out the souvenir shops to kill some time and to look for my dad’s boat that he wanted.  But after checking out every single shop they had, none of them had the boat.  We decided to head back to the bike shop.

We went back to collect our bikes and we were off to try to find the bike shop.  We weren’t sure how to get back to the bike shop so we decided to retrace our steps.   We followed the same road that we came on and crossed some train tracks.  We found the bike shop pretty quickly.  It was only a quarter to four and we still had an hour left with the bikes.  We were getting hungry and we decided to go back to that shop that we saw that was next to the 100yen vending machine.  We figured since that vending machine is not in the tourist section we were hoping that the food shop that we saw would also be cheap.  And it turned out we were right.  Once we found the 100yen vending machine, we checked out the shop and they sold noodles and pastures that look like fish.  You could get red bean pastures or cream paster.  I got some noodles and only paid 250yen.  They were so delicious!!  Dana and I got some drinks from the 100yen vending machine and just chilled out by our bikes.  There wasn’t anywhere to sit because it was a shop that sold food that you take home.  You don’t stay and seat around on chairs or tables.  So Dana and I just talked and chilled by our bikes and enjoyed our drinks and I enjoyed my food.  She then went to the same shopkeeper that sold me the noodles to get some fish pasters.  She got the red bean one.  It looked really good and I went and bought myself a fish cream pastures.  As I bit into it, it was warm and soft.  It wasn’t too sweet and the cream was pretty good.

After we were done eating and relaxing for a bit, we head back to the bike shop and returned our bikes.  We started walking down the street and just followed some people for a little bit.  Then I saw the temple that Abby and I passed to get to the Bamboo Forest and we turned right.  I knew then we were on the right track and we kept going straight for a little bit.  Then we saw a sign for the Bamboo Forest and also saw a lot of people leaving or entering into the forest and we turn left.  And let the walking through the Bamboo Forest began.

Bamboo Forest Part 2

It was nice walking through the Bamboo Forest without the rain.  I got some better pictures this time and I knew where I was going.  I didn’t feel lost and the forest was still crowded with never-ending people.  I took Dada down the same path that Abby and I took.  It was a lot of fun.  Once we got to the end of the Bamboo Forest we took some pictures.  Then we saw a couple in their wedding outfits getting their pre-engagement photos done.  They went to the popular spot where everyone gets there photo done in the Bamboo Forest and I really admire the photographer.  I was laying on the ground while taking there photo getting his shirt and pants all dirty. I admire photographers that are willing to go the distance for there clients to get the perfect shot.

After we were done taking photos we went down the same pathway that takes you the neighborhood area.  I got to get a better view of the neighborhood since it wasn’t raining it was really nice.  With the traditional houses and walls around each property.  It was very peaceful and nice and not many people came this way because it wasn’t part of the attraction.

After we were done exploring the area, we had to walk through the Bamboo Forest again to leave.  It was getting late and dark outside and the Bamboo Forest had fewer people walking around.  It was even quieter and quit peaceful to walk through without all the crowds.  The only problem was there isn’t any kind of light post anywhere through the whole forest.  So if you get stuck inside the forest when it gets dark, you will struggle to see your way out.  But we made it out before that happened.  The sun was seating and I really needed the bathroom.  It was almost 7 pm and the streets were getting deserted.  There weren’t many people walking up and down the street anymore and the shops were starting to close for the night.  I was a little shocked that everything was closing down so early.  It was almost 7 pm but this whole area was starting to look dead.

Bathroom Story

I really really really needed the bathroom and I remember the temple that we passed earlier had a bathroom.  So I figured that we could just walk to the temple and I could just use the bathroom there.  When we got to the temple, you have to walk across the parking lot and pass some other shrines.  Dana and I were talking the whole time.  While we were walking I realized I haven’t seen any people here.  We saw a woman earlier that was leaving and two cars that were parked in the parking lot.  I started thinking that maybe the temple was closed.  I was really hoping it wasn’t closed.  I really needed the bathroom and I couldn’t remember if the bathroom was outside the entrance or inside.  If its outside hopefully it won’t be locked so I can use the toilet.  But if its inside pass the entrance, that will definitely be locked and we would have walked all the way here for nothing.  It’s about a 10-minute walk to get to the grounds and I also notice that the other shrines that were open when I was here last were all locked up.  Not a good sign right now.  We finally made it to the entrance of the shrine and everything was closed.  There were locks on everything and there was a gate up.  We looked through the gate and there was the bathroom.  I was so sad!!  The bathroom was right there and I couldn’t get to it.  I was very disappointed and we had to go find another bathroom.  The only other place I could think of was at the food court area.  I remember they had a bathroom and hopefully, the food court was still open.  So we took another 10-minute walk across the grounds and finally made it back to the entrance.  We turned left and walked for another five minutes and we finally made it back to the food court.  And luckily for me, the food court was still open and there was my best friend the bathroom.  Yeah!!  I can finally use the bathroom.  I’m so excited and happy!!

Now I haven’t’ talked about how the toilets are different from the American toilets or Taiwan toilets yet.  I would say some of the differences would be the toilet is really clean.  The toilet stall always seems to have tissues.  Unlike in Taiwan where most of the time you need to bring your own tissues with you because the toilet you are using may or may not have tissues or there won’t even be anything attached to the wall for toilet paper.  There are usually buttons on the wall or on the toilet seat for you to adjust the heat on the seat, change the rotation of the water, or use the spray to clean your butt and dry it.  Also, there is a flush sound to hide the fact that you are peeing or pooping in the bathroom.  Because you know girls don’t pee or poop.  Joke joke.  Hate to burst some bubbles but everyone pees and poops.  Just saying.  Also the most important button of all.  The flush button to clean out the toilet.  I’m used to having automatic or having to look for the flusher behind the toilet.  But to have a button on the side of the wall was a new one for me.  Here are some photos of the lovely toilets that you will very likely see in Japan.

Kimono-Forest

After I was done using the bathroom, Dana and I sat down in the food court area to rest for a bit.  We talked a little and I told her about the Kimono-Forest.  When I was here with Abby I got to see the Kimono-Forest but it was still daytime and rainy and I didn’t explore it much.  I figured while we were here we could check it out.  The Kimono-Forest has a lot of different designed light poll that is on both sides of a walking path.  Most people will be dressed up in their kimonos and get some pictures done.  But the site is a lot more beautiful at night.  All the lamp poll light up and show off all the artwork on each poll along the walking path.  The Kimono-Forest is on the other side of the food court.  Dana agreed to go and we went to the Kimono-Forest.  It looked just like the pictures.  It was a beautifully lit up walking path with polls on each side in different colors and designs.  There were a few people walking in their kimono through the Kimono-Forest.  It was just gorgeous!!

As you can see from the pictures it was just a beautiful site to see at night.  I highly recommend seeing this place at night.  It’s so much better at night then in the day.  We took some pictures and walked through the Kimono-Forest.  There was a little area that you can turn into and you will see a marble ball on a very smooth flat water.  The marble ball is reflecting in the water and the marble has a dragon design on it.  It was very beautiful.  On the side of the wall that the marble ball was sitting on, there was a metal plack that had some information about this marble ball and water.  It said, ‘Pond of Dragon.  Wishes are granted if the dragon that landed in Arashiyama is prayed to. If you immerse your hands in the water, your heart will be filled with peace and you will be lead to happiness.’    This statue just looked like a beautiful artwork to me and I didn’t dear touch it.  But I took a lot of pictures of it.  Here are some of the pictures.

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After we were done walking around the Kimono-Forest we decided to head back to the train station.  It was a very long day at Arashiyama but a great fun-filled day.  We got back to our hostel safe and sound.  I have no idea what I will be doing tomorrow but we will find out soon.  Hope you enjoyed the blog.  If you like what I write please follow me and if you want to see more pictures from my travels, just follow my facebook blog page.  Hope to see you here again soon.

 

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