The most fun filled day out of the entire trip was today! I woke up rather early, around 8 AM or so. Not early for my normal routine but for vacation, I’d like to think that was early. I quickly ate breakfast and headed out the door to the bus stop. Now, the bus stop I needed to go to was about 2 Km away, so I got a beautiful walk in that morning. The area I walked around was amazing. Kyoto is truly a beautiful area. I was walking down this small road with tall bamboo trees on both sides, the occasional car or service truck passing me as I breathe in the fresh Japan air on a cool morning. It was still hot but 15 degrees cooler than Hong Kong. So I was in heaven.
The sun was already high in the sky at this point. I made it to the bus stop and got on the right bus. At this point, I knew where I was going and what buses I needed to get on. Later on that day, I would put my foot in my mouth for that statement. But for now, I was on the bus going to Arayashima, famous for the bamboo grove, monkeys, and temples. I first got my bearings aligned and took some money out of the ATM. I didn’t expect transportation to be so expensive so I didn’t bring enough money. I quickly got the money, called my dad to let him know where I was. I don’t talk to him nearly as much as I should so he loves it when I call him. I also sent him a bunch of pictures of everything I was doing that day as well.
After that, I bought a small latte and headed to the bamboo forest… or what I thought was the bamboo forest. My GPS said it was in that direction, but it was wrong. It didn’t matter because it brought me to a place I wanted to see anyway. It was a walkway towards a Buddhist temple high on the side of the mountain. It took quite a while to get there. Then again, I did stop every 20 feet to take pictures. Today is the most pictures I’ve ever taken in one day. When I made it to the temple I paid the admission fee. It wasn’t much, 400 Yen so about $4 USD.
There was a younger man there looking over the place and keeping it clean, he was very polite and knew enough English to talk to me. I’ve been living in a foreign country for almost 3 months at this point. I’ve begun to slow down my speech and use more common words so people who don’t know as much English can understand what I’m saying. He showed me around and I took a bunch of pictures. I even helped him with pronunciation of a few english words he was struggling with. I really wish I would’ve gotten his name. upon leaving I was able to ring the big bell they have in the temple as well. It was beautiful.
I made my way back down the side of the mountain and worked my way back to where I started. I asked some of the other tourists and found out that the bamboo forest was on the other side of this big area. Of course it was -_-
I walked a round-about way of getting there, making sure to stop and take more pictures than necessary and bought some goodies to bring back to the states. Specifically back to my mother for Christmas. I finally found the bamboo forest after walking by a dozen or so different temples. I made sure to look at all of them as well. I paid the fee to get into this area where there was another temple and pond area with big coy fish in it! They had to be at least 10 pound fish each and there had to be 3 dozen coy or more.
After walking through the garden and pond area, I made my way to the bamboo forest. Before that, I bought myself a good luck charm. I first thought of getting one that was for school since my Cantonese and Chinese reading and writing classes are kicking my butt. I decided against it and bought one for a happy life.
The bamboo forest was amazing. It lives up to its name. You can’t see too far into the forest because of how dense it is. It even blocked out the sun in some areas on the walk way. I walked up the path through the forest and paid to enter into another area. It’s a total tourist trap here. You have to pay to get into everything! Regardless, I paid and walked up another mountain, this one was more of a road than a path up the mountain. Towards the top they have a place where you give them a voucher, given to you at the entrance where you paid, for a free piece of small cake and a cup of green tea. Not very filling but the green tea was very bitter and just the right temperature, exactly how I like it!
The cake was essentially a green piece of sponge cake with a small amount of filling in the middle. We got to sit in a wooded area overlooking the area we walked up and the smell of the area I was at was awesome! The bamboo trees had an interesting aroma to them and it was totally amplified on the mountain. There were a couple small old houses at the top as well. One house in particular was built and owned by a famous martial arts actor. The name of the actor escapes me but he stared in films way back in the 1940’s.
At this point, it was about 2 pm. I needed to head out soon if I wanted to go anywhere else today. I quickly worked my way down the mountain, back through the bamboo forest, had a quick stop for more ice cream, then got back on a bus to downtown Kyoto. Once there, I got on another bus to go to the Thousand Buddha statue temple. Remember when I said I started to understand the buses? Well, I lied. I got on the wrong bus going in the right direction. The bus I was supposed to get on goes East then South, the one I was on headed South first then East. I quickly got off before it was too late and just started walking. It wasn’t so bad because there was another temple on the way to the Thousand Buddha statue temple.
I stopped at quick fast food style place for late lunch, I ended up buying deep fried oysters! I didn’t know what it was till I saw a translation of the food on the wall… After I ordered the food. I told myself to man up and eat since you already paid for it. “You’re in a new country trying new things, and you’re alone” is what I said to myself. You can try one more new thing. I did and it wasn’t too bad. It still tasted weird, I think what saved it was the deep fried part. Once I finished eating my meal, I got back on track to the temple. I stopped at the one on the way to the thousand Buddha statue temple and I’m so glad I did.
It was huge and completely open to the public! A nice change of pace since I had to pay to get into everywhere else! They did have a donation box though, and I gladly gave them a couple hundred Yen for how beautiful and well kept this temple was! It truly was amazing and I’m glad I got off track. If I didn’t get off track, I wouldn’t have seen this temple.
I spent quite a bit of time there as well. At all the temples, it is customary to take your shoes off. So I spent a lot of time putting my shoes on then taking them off for each temple. Regardless, after I finished looking at that temple I moved on towards the Thousand Buddha temple. Although… I was too late. The temple closed at 5 PM and it was about 5:15 PM. I was pretty bummed. One thing that really sucks is that everything closes at 5 or 6 PM in Asia, besides restaurants and department stores. All tourist-style attractions open at like 8 or 9 AM and close at 5 or 6 PM. It really sucks because it makes it hard to see a lot of things in one day.
After leaving that I wanted to go to the manga museum, but that also closed at 6 PM so I wasn’t gonna make it. At this point I just decided to head back to the hotel for dinner. Again proving I have no idea how the buses work. I could not find the right bus to get onto. It was awful. I spent at least an hour and a half wondering around this main hub where a lot of buses stopped at. I finally found WiFi and booted up my GPS really quick and found the couple of options to take to get home. I found the one that was the most familiar and got on that one. This meant getting on and off 2 buses and getting on 2 subways. Transportation is difficult here.
At this point it was about 8 PM. I made it back to my hotel area bought some food at the 7/11 just in case the hotel’s dinner didn’t fill me up. I got back just in time to eat dinner. It was really tasty! It was pitch black out now. Not a lot of light pollution so I decided to take some pictures of stars. I spent about an hour taking pictures outside then went back in for a shower and quickly collapsed in bed. I was so tired from all the walking today. I don’t know how I did it.
Anyway, today was really great. I was really surprised at how many Japanese people understand English. It made me sad that not a lot of native English speakers only speak one language. This kind of gave me more motivation to continue learning Japanese and strive to speaking Cantonese and learning how to read and write in Chinese.
I hope you all enjoyed! Have a wonderful day!