10 days away
15 km / 9 miles since last post
10,415 km / 6,472 miles total
We took breakfast in the hotel this morning as it was included in the price of the room. There was the choice of the Japanese or Western style restaurant, but we decided that the appeal of eggs and bacon was too great and so opted for the Western style restaurant. The choice of food was good; eggs, bacon, sausage, croissant, danish, French toast, onion rings(?). The only disappointment was that it wasn't very hot - actually, I think tepid would be the best description! Despite this we had a feast to set us up for the day.
I had to do a tad more washing this morning. We probably shouldn't have left it this long as there was quite a lot to do and not a huge amount of space to hang it. Like the last, this hotel also wanted a lot of money to wash items of clothing - £2 for a single pair of underpants is plain wrong.
After some laundry in the sink we headed off to the Arashiyama/Sagano area of Kyoto. It was just a few stops away on the subway. Whilst here we took the recommended walk around temples and shrines given on our area map. There was lots to see, it was a really nice walk around the town.
Amongst the places we visited were the Tenryu-ji Temple, the Nembutsu-ji Temple and the Daikakuji Temple.
At the Tenryu-ji Temple we took a walk around the gardens which were lovely. The gardens had a huge lake which contained many koi carp. This temple was established in 1339, but due to being ravaged by fire eight times most of the current buildings date to the Meiji period (1868-1912). However, it is the garden around the temple which is one of the oldest in Japan, still retaining the original design from the fourteenth century. This garden was designated a World Cultural Heritage site in 1994 by the United Nations.
The Nembutsu-ji temple was founded by Kukai (Kobo dash, 774-835) and contains an image of the Amida Buddha here. Within the temple area there are about eight thousand stones of Buddha. These were made as gravestones for the dead who were buried in the Adashino area in the Heian period (793-1183) and the Edo period (1615-1868) and were only founded about 100 years ago. The leaflet we received after paying to get into the temple did advise that photography of the stones was not allowed, but this didn't stop Stu. (Stu note: I didn't read the leaflet!)
The Daikakuji Temple was an impressive red colour, and was originally the detached palace of Emperor Saga. Also in the grounds of this temple is Osawa Pond which contains many carp and tall pond plants.
The Daikakuji Temple concluded our tour of the temples in this area. So we headed back to the centre of town to grab a snack for lunch, then crossed the river towards the Arashiyama Monkey Park, which is a popular spot for wild Japanese Snow Monkeys to congregate.
From the entrance you walk up a mountain path for about 20 minutes to a height of about 160 metres. It is a steep walk, but well worth it. At the top you are greeted by around 100 Japanese Snow Monkeys and great views over the city of Kyoto.
The monkeys were very cute and there were even a few babies around. The signs reminded you not to stare the monkeys in the eye and not to have any food and drink on show. They went about their business and didn't seem bothered by people. They had free run of the whole mountain area and seemed very content.
There was a small building where you could go inside and purchase some nuts or fruit to feed them through a meshed window. The monkeys would just take more and more food from you; it was amusing to see how many pieces of fruit and nuts they could fit in their mouths.
Somebody did not heed the warning about food and drink on display; we spotted one of the monkeys rifling through someones coat pocket, lifting out a can of drink and running off with it! Luckily one of the park rangers spotted this, ran after the monkey and grabbed it back! We spent a while up here with the monkeys as they were fun to watch. I think Stu took more than a hundred pictures up here!
After our time with the monkeys we headed back to the train station. We caught a Japan Rail train (and made further use of our great Japan Rail Pass) and intended on heading to Enmachi Station to go to the Golden Pavillion temple. As we boarded the train, we both decided that we were feeling quite tired, besides which the daylight was starting to fade anyway. So instead, we stayed on the train back to Nijo and headed back to the hotel. We have booked ourselves in for another night at the hotel - we can see the Golden Pavillion tomorrow.
Stu decided that he wanted to eat in one of the hotel restaurants this
evening. I tried to explain that it was going to be expensive, but he insisted on taking a look. After looking round at each restaurants menu and realising that it was going to cost a minimum of £50 each for dinner (they did have set menus for well over £150 per person) we decided to nip out to the local mart and grab something from there instead, and it was actually quite nice and a tenth of the cost.