Third day in Osaka! Second day of free time! Before we left for Japan, I was already planning with a friend from Davao about what we would do on this day. Sandy (my friend) was also in Japan during the same week we were so we decided we’d do a little bit of exploring ourselves!
We decided to get out of Osaka that day and explore Kyoto. There was one specific destination that I really wanted to visit!
We met up at Namba Station and it took us a while to locate each other inside that complex. After a couple of calls and tactical direction-giving, we found each other! We then boarded a train bound for Arashiyama, Kyoto.
We headed straight for Arashiyama because this was where the famed bamboo forest was located. Arashiyama is a district on the western outskirts of Kyoto and it’s a nationally designated Historic Site and Place of Scenic Beauty. And it had every right to be!
I was awestruck, right off the bat! Arashiyama also refers to the mountain across the Oi River and it forms a backdrop to the district, and what a breathtaking backdrop it was. Sadly, we were a bit too early for the Cherry Blossoms this year so the mountainside wasn’t as alive with pink as it would probably have been a week later, but it still looked magnificent. I would love to visit again during the autumn season when the mountain would be ablaze with reds and oranges!
The week we went to Japan should have been the peak of the Cherry Blossom season but since it got colder (global warming??), the schedule was moved a week later, but there were still one or two trees that decided to brave the cold and grace us with their flowers.
It was a bit of a walk towards the famed Bamboo Grove but there was a lot to see!
Tons of girls (and a few guys) wore traditional Japanese clothing (yukata and/or kimono) while walking around. I was so happy to use my Japanese to ask locals if it was okay to take a photo with them. They were very much happy to have their photos taken as well. (Such nice people~)
We also saw a couple of these rickshaw guys. I think this was what Sandy was most excited about! I, on the other hand, loved the ninja shoes they were wearing. (I think they’re called Tabi shoes?)
After consulting a map, we found ourselves nearing the grove. And then we gradually started seeing the bamboo. We were a bit disappointed, honestly, when we got to this part because it didn’t quite look like the photos I saw online.
But we walked on and followed the pathway, most of our excitement gone. Until…
There it was.
We entered the main bamboo grove and we were immediately transported into another world. Standing there, in the midst of the sprawling stalks of bamboo reaching up to the heavens… was an unexplainable feeling.
We followed the one path through the grove and as we got deeper into the forest, we soaked in more of the ethereal surroundings.
When visiting Kyoto, DO NOT miss the chance to travel to Arashiyama to see this. It it worth it!
We went back the way we came from and entered the Tenryu-Ji Gardens.
The garden of Tenryu-Ji is designated as a Special Place of Scenic Beauty! We had to take photos, naturally.
This is the Sogen Pond, one of the highlights of the temple complex. The structure facing the pond is Ohojo.
Took quite a few photos within the complex.
I went inside the Tenryu-ji’s Hatto where the Cloud Dragon resides. It is found on the ceiling of the Hatto and was painted in 1997. I don’t have my own photos of the ceiling because we weren’t allowed to take any. What’s so unique about the Cloud Dragon was that it was drawn in the happo nirami style. This allows the dragon to “look directly at you” from wherever you are looking at it in the Hatto. I also noticed that if you stood at certain spots underneath it, it looks like the dragon is popping out, like it has depth or a lot of layers. It was pretty cool. I wish I took a photo of it, though.
Anyways, after Arashiyama, we went in search of Gion District, Kyoto.
We took the train again. We stopped at one station to use the bathroom. The hallway was decorated with tons of art and it was really cute.
We continued on our train route and after one stop, Sandy realized she didn’t have her phone on her. We got off and returned to the cute-hallway-station’s bathroom. It wasn’t there anymore. So we checked with the station’s office and was relieved to know that someone had found the phone in the bathroom and reported it to them. The Japanese are a wonderful people!
We continued our journey to Gion afterwards. We stopped for some Ramen on the way because we were suuuuper hungry.
And after quite a long walk, we found Gion District!
Gion is Kyoto’s most famous Geisha district. The streets are lined with shops, restaurants, ochaya (tea houses). This is where geisha and maiko (the geisha apprentices) entertain.
The streets were narrow and they branch off on both sides of the main street. It was fun getting lost in this district. We found little shrines in between houses and hidden desserts shops!
The houses here caught my attention because they were a perfect mix of modern and traditional styles.
We spent a good deal of the afternoon in Gion and then moved on to Kobe. We lost a lot of time during our train ride to Kobe. A couple of wrong trains put us way behind schedule! We did take photos inside the train, though. The light from the setting sun was glorious!
We visited Nagasawa in Kobe. This was our one and only destination that night. Nagasawa is an art and office supplies store that Sandy has visited before. We found calligraphy inks, nibs, rhodia and mnemosyne pads, stickers, brush pens, fountain pens and inks, and a ton more stuff that was so hard to resist buying. No time for photo taking that night. My wallet did all the exercise.
We parted ways on the train ride back to Osaka because I was meeting another friend that night. Ken is someone I met in Davao, during his time here studying english.
He took me to Tenjinbashisuji-Shoutengai (that was a mouthful), a shopping street. And it’s not just any regular shopping street. It boasts of being the longest straight shopping street in all of Japan! It has, approximately, 600 shops (with a lot of pachinko establishments)!
I haven’t had dinner yet that time so he took me to a sushi place.
This was my first authentic sushi since staying in Japan. They were delicious! The wasabi paste hidden underneath the slices or raw fish, shrimp, and octopus surprised me, though. I don’t usually eat my sushi with wasabi but I braved the green paste that night, to fully experience Japanese sushi.
Unfortunately, we met up late and the shops were starting to close when we started walking through the shopping street. We walked most, if not all, of the street all the way to Umeda station!
I also caught a glimpse of this narrow side street. It was interesting to see how it was alive with lights from, both, the traditional lanterns and the neon store sign!
We parted ways at the train station and got instax photo souvenirs of the night. I immediately dropped dead in my bed that night. It was a full day!
Check out the rest of my trip with the links below!