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Day 11 Kyoto Arashiyama monkeys and more


Published: June 14th 2017

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We slept in, called home, and had a leisurely breakfast – some of us hadn’t slept so well after Olivia kicked the house down in the middle of the night &#x1F609 (Olivia bumped a paper screen door in her sleep, and it fell out of its tracks. G thought it was an earthquake or the zombie apocalypse and was prepared to run! The boys and I slept through it all).

We walked to the nearest JR train station, part the fishing tackle shop and countless cute little houses, then straight to Arashiyama, where we had read that we could see the snow monkeys.

As we arrived in Arashiyama, it became clear that this little town at the foothill of Mt Arashiyama and about 20 mins from downtown Kyoto was a very pretty tourist town, a little like Montville. Rita, I bought just one more pashmina – couldn’t let a holiday go by without packing pashminas!!!

We walked through the old town, to the Togetsu-kyo Moon Bridge, where in summer, the fishermen still use fire and trained cormorants to fish from the river. Very picturesque, with the mountains “like one of Nonna’s quilts” according to Matthew, with their Autumn colours.

Then, we walked up the mountain, about a 25 minute hike up, and suddenly, we were overlooking the city of Kyoto, with dozens of monkeys (Japanese macaque or snow monkeys) playing around us. The monkeys weren’t all that interested in the people, just doing their own thing, but when we went into the caged area (people IN the cage, monkeys outside the cafe) and purchased the monkey food (peanuts and apples today), the monkeys were much more interested in us, quickly taking each piece from our hands. It was great – particularly loved the tiny baby monkey!!!

We then walked back into town, sampling potato cakes with sweet red bean curd, some puffy rice cake thing that we could have with soy sauce or with “granulated fruit sugar” and some sweet green tea, which turns out to be powdered mulberry leaves (tastes like sweet garden compost!) Lots of little tourist shops, and we found a very popular katsu curry house – we queued to get in, and still couldn’t all be seated together. One of the best ever pork katsu meals – I had the cutlet sets with yummy potato salad and cabbage (always cabbage!!). Chatted to some nice Californians,

traveling with their child through Asia….and this was where a jacket got left behind for a short time!

We then looked at the Kimono Forest – dozens of 2m high tubes with lovely fabric inside, which are illuminated at night.

Further up the street was Tenryu-ji, a UNESCO World Heritage listed temple, with Zen garden. The temple was built by a shogun in 1339, and is famous for the gardens, including a pond in the shape of a Chinese character that means “enlightened heart” (we didn’t pick this at the time, but read it subsequently!)

In the gardens, we realized that the bags of jackets were one jacket short – luckily, this is such a safe culture, and Steven dashed back to the restaurant where they were keeping the jacket for us. All good.

As an aside, I have to be impolite and mention the Japanese toilets. We are impressed. Always spotlessly clean, generally even the public toilets are computerized. The seats are heated, the flush is triggered by your butt leaving the seat, there are various “wash your butt” options as to speed, direction and temperature – there is even a button to make waterfall sounds to disguise your own bathroom

noises. Like I said, we are very impressed! At this temple, (as we generally have to do), we removed our shoes to wear the slippers provided – there were then “toilet shoes” that you slipped out of the slippers and into the toilet shoes to go into the bathrooms!

We then went to the Bamboo Grove Forest – a path through towering bamboo 30m high. As we entered the gloom, the evening illuminations were switched on – after all, it was close to 4pm, with sunset coming by 4.30pm! Very lovely. We also went to a temple in the forest where the Imperial Princesses came, for ritual purification, for hundreds of years.

Back to the train station, and back to Kyoto Station. We passed a Daiso (Y100) shop and everyone went a little crazy with gifts and gimmicks and weird looking snacks for tomorrow’s train trip – regardless of what Steven and the kids tell you, the visit to the 100 Yen shop ($1) was NOT the highlight of the day!! (Although it was a lot of fun!!)

Tom wanted teppanyaki BBQ for his birthday, and we thought we might find it easier on Kyoto than Miyajima tomorrow, so we looked

for dinner options on our way home. We didn’t find teppanyaki, but found okonomiyaki, which were described in the English menu as Japanese pancake pizzas. They were a bit like a frittata, and were cooked on a hot plate in front of us – very tasty and very different.

Walking home through the quiet city streets and lanes – this is a very safe place, where there is no feeling of concerns for personal safety.

Another great day! (And only walked 14.8km! No wonder the kids are sleeping soundly!!)


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