The begining of our weekend gateway was very intense, but also satisfying – we’ve managed to realize all our plans (missed how? check here!). The second day in Kyoto was even more challenging, as with afternoon train back to Nagoya, we had much less time.
Here’s how the second day of our weekend trip to Kyoto went!
Our second day in Kyoto has started early in the morning on the bus stop. We were heading to the far west side of the city – Arashiyama. The whole ride from the city center takes around 30 minutes, but the place is definitely worth visiting. The bus stop is right next to the Togetsukyo Bridge, which you can use to cross the Katsura river and visit the Arashiyama Monkey Park or hike the Arashiyama Mountain. Although the forest and nature were really alluring, we didn’t have enough time for hiking and enjoying the landscapes. Therefore, we took few pictures on the bridge and headed north to Sagano area.
The first stop in Arashiyama (besides the bridge) is usually the Tenryuji Temple. This Zen Temple is one of the main attractions of Arashiyama, as well as one of Kyoto’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The entrance to the temple grounds is free, although you need a ticket to visit its famed garden (500 yen) and the interior of the temple buildings (300 yen). We’ve decided to limit our visit only to the first option, as the garden is said to be the most beautiful one in Kyoto. The pound with the mountains view is definitely worth the price.
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
After visiting the temple, we took the north exit and just after few steps found ourselves in our next destination – Arashiyma Bamboo Grove. While its considered as one of the Kyoto’s top sights and the “must see” place to visit, I didn’t like it that much… For someone who has never been before in a bamboo grove or forest, the view will still be something amazing, but in my opinion, the crowd destroys all its magic. In Fushimi-inari, despite its popularity, you can admire the torii gates in peace – taking the side paths and strolling off the track – but here the only way to get through the grove is a narrow main path, always full of people. I liked much more the Hokokuji Temple’s bamboo garden in Kamakura, near Tokyo. Place where you can wander alone between the bamboo stalks, choosing your own paths.
The main attraction of Arashiyama is the Bamboo Grove, but it’s not the only place worth visiting there. Besides the already mentioned Tenryouji Temple, the whole area is filled with many amazing temples and shrines. After leaving the bamboo grove, we’ve decided to stroll around in the search of some hidden games, unknown by tourists. In this way, we’ve visited a couple of less popular temples.
After walking like that without a map or any specific aim, we wandered into a residential area of single-family houses.
It was the place where we’ve noticed that there won’t be any other temples and we’re quite far from the beaten tourist path. Therefore we finally took out our map, looking for the best way to our next destination – Kinkakuji Temple. The easiest option was to go back all the way to the Arashiyama station, but as we walked quite a distance, I came with my classic “it doesn’t look so far!” idea to walk to a bus stop further in the way to our destination, instead of going back.
Lost in the rice fields
How we thought, we did and somehow we found ourselves in the middle of rice fields.
Although the views were truly wonderful, our situation wasn’t so perfect. There were no people around, there were fences and drainage channels everywhere and we had no idea where the path will lead us. We even didn’t know if we actually can be in this place, maybe it was unintended trespassing?
After going further we’ve noticed the main road, where we probably could catch a bus or at least try hitchhiking. The fences and channels were still blocking our way, making it impossible to go in the planned direction, but at least we knew that there is some civilization and we probably can somehow find the exit. After finally getting out from our labyrinth we found ourselves in another beautiful place – Hirosawa Pond.
Besides the magnificent view and vicinity of a big road, there was also a bus stop and the bus was going to the stop next to the Golden Pavilion! We had so much luck, that even despite the fact the bus was coming only once in over an hour, we waited for it about 10 minutes.
Kinkakuji – the Golden Pavilion
Besides the Arashiyama area, the main plan for our second day in Kyoto was to visit the Golden Pavilion, known in Japanese as Kinkakuji. The magnificent golden temple, surrounded by nature and situated on the edge of the beautiful “mirror pond” Kyokochi is probably the most widely-recognizable sight of Kyoto.
The building covered with golden leaves, its water reflections and a small island with rocks and two pine trees, make all together a magical view that is definitely something everyone should put on his bucketlist. It can be visited all year round for the price similar to every other Japanese temple or shrine – 400 yen. During the visit, you can walk around the pond to see the Kinkakuji from each site and relax in the temple’s gardens.
Just before heading to the exit you can also visit the Sekkatei Teahouse. While, outside of the paid area there are few souvenir shops, a small tea garden and a Buddhist temple with Kudo Moyoo statue. For our great surprise, we also bumped there into our American friends from our hostel in Tokyo. The world is so small!
The end of our second day in Kyoto
After our visit to the Golden Pavilion, we took a bus to our hostel to pick our bags and headed to the train station. The second day of our Kyoto trip was coming to the end… On the last hours of our visit, we climbed to the station’s roof to enjoy the city landscape and ate a late lunch (or early dinner) in the restaurant on the Kyoto Station – delicious tonkatsu.
Unfortunately, our schedule didn’t allow us to visit more places, but these two days were enough to fall in love in the city. I’m still dreaming about visiting Osaka, Nara, Himeji and will definitely go back to Kyoto on my next trip to Kansai area!