We got an early start today because the forecast called for rain mainly in the afternoon. We were hoping we could get through most of our sightseeing before the rain started. First up was Arashiyama. Arashiyama is a small town on the western outskirts of Kyoto. It is well known for its bamboo groves, which was our first stop after getting off the train. The way to the bamboo groves wasn't obvious, but thankfully there was a tourist information booth outside the station. The attendant gave us a map and showed us the route to follow to get there. It was a short 10-15 minute walk from the station. We saw a nice little shrine or memorial on the way, so I stopped to take a couple of photos.

Small shrine

This area was a lot less touristy than some of the areas we had been to so far. There were more residential buildings and fewer businesses. The map helped and we managed to find the bamboo groves without getting lost. None of us had ever seen bamboo growing in a natural setting before and we all enjoyed it.

Arashiyama Bamboo Groves

In addition to the bamboo, there were some flowering trees that were in bloom.

Flowering Trees

We continued walking through the bamboo groves. Since it was relatively early in the morning, it was very quiet and peaceful. It was really nice to be away from the crowds we had at most places in Japan for a little while.

Bamboo

We walked to the end of the groves and reached a nice little residential area before turning around and heading back the way we came. We then decided to walk through Arashiyama to see what else was there. We explored the area and found some nice looking buildings and lots of small shops.

Arashiyama

We tried a couple of food items that vendors were selling and continued through Arashiyama until we reached the main bridge over the river. We walked across to the other side and looked around a little, but didn't see anything too interesting, so we headed back to the train station.

Arashiyama River Area

The next activity on our list was a scenic train ride up the river canyon. It leaves from a small platform outside the main Arashiyama train station. We purchased our tickets and waited for our trip to start. The train that runs is an old model and the train goes along the old tracks which have been bypassed by a newer, faster, and more direct route.

Arashiyama Scenic Train

The train pulled into the station and we boarded it and started off on our trip. Tyler took a picture of Erin and I enjoying the train.

Enjoying the train ride

We saw some sightseeing boats coming down the river. We had originally thought about taking the boat ride back down after the train, but the inclement looking weather and the expensive cost made us reconsider. The boat ride takes about 2 hours and we didn't think the rain would hold off that long, so it didn't seem worth it.

Boats on the river

The train winds through the river gorge and goes over many bridges and through several tunnels.

Hozu River Gorge

We enjoyed the ride, but it was just a little cool sitting in the outside car with no top on it.

Enjoying the views on the train

We got off the train in a small town from which you can catch a modern train back to Arashiyama/Kyoto. You have to walk between the two stations and it is probably about 2/3rds of a mile. On the walk, we saw a sign for the boats that you take down the river. I was pretty amused to see Tom Sawyer mentioned in rural Japan.

Tom Sawyer boats

On our way to the station, we decided it would be good to pick up some lunch from a restaurant in town. As soon as we ventured off the main path to the station, a couple of Japanese people started pointed and telling us we were going the wrong way. We knew where the station was and tried to communicate that to them, but I'm not sure we were successful. There weren't many restaurants around, but we did find a bakery where we were able to get lunch to go.

We took the train back to Arashiyama and ate our lunch, then headed into Kyoto to Kinkakuji. Kinkakuji is a very famous temple in Kyoto that is covered in gold. As with most things in Kyoto, it isn't easy to get to by train, so we rode the train to the nearest station and got on the bus headed to Kinkakuji. The bus was packed and not very easy to use when you don't speak English, but we did manage to get off at the correct stop for Kinkakuji. It's a short walk from the bus stop to the temple. As we got off the bus, it started to rain. We purchased our tickets (400 per adult, 300 per child) and headed in.

Kinkakuji in the rain

We walked around on the designated path and took a few more pictures. I bet it would have been much more impressive on a sunny day, but sometimes you just have to deal with the weather you have.

Kinkakuji - Golden Temple

As you continue on the path, you walk through a nice garden area. We didn't spend much time there since it was starting to rain a little harder.



Kinkakuji Gardens

We headed back from Kinkakuji and caught the bus back to the station. If it hadn't been raining, we might have just walked it as it wasn't too far and the bus is pretty expensive for just a short trip. We got off the bus and took the train back to Osaka. We had a little time to relax before we went out and just ate a quick dinner at a Japanese version of McDonalds. Nothing too exciting, but it got the job done. Afterwards, we walked around the Namba area some before heading back to the hotel and turning in for the night.

Continue to Day 7

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