Sunday, 10 October 2010

Osaka-Nara-Kyoto-Kobe-Okayama-Hiroshima trip – 10 Oct 10

Today is our last day in Kyoto and we will be exploring the Arashiyama and Ginkakuji area.
This bread is yummy

As usual, we took a bus from the hostel to Kyoto station before changing to a train to Saga-Arashiyama. 
So many platforms
Inside the train
Railway tracks at Kyoto station

We reached Saga-Arashimaya station after 30min of train ride and walked over to Torokko Saga Station which is located at the same building as JR Saga-Arashiyama Station.
Tickets counter at Torokko Saga Station

The train tickets from Torokko Saga station to Torokko Kameoka Station cost ¥600 ~ S$9 per way. I purchased return train tickets and requested for open air carriage. The trains depart from Torokko Saga station every hour from 8.50am - 4.50pm.
Train Time table
Carriage 5 is open air carriage
Return train tickets 
These are sweets!
These toy trains can move!
Sagano train
Inside the train carriage 
 Hozo river
Hozkukyo station
Rural landscape

After 30min of train journey, we reached the last train station of Sagano Train ride. We did not alight as the return train back to Arashiyama is 5min later.
Passengers waiting to board the train at Kameoka Station
Anybody knows what these bears represent?
Open air carriage
A monster!

We alighted at Torokko Arashiyama Station which is a stop before Torokko Saga Station. Bamboo Grove and Tenryuji Temple are 15min walking distance from Torokko Arashiyama Station.
Want to try your luck? 
Stalls selling food outside the train station
Bamboo Groves
I saw Geisha again
The bamboo shoot are so tall

We passed by Tenryuji Temple 天竜寺 but didnt went in as there is an admission charge of ¥500.
Tenryuji Temple 
Nonomiya Shrine 野宮神社
A lantern at Nonomiya Shrine
Shops along the street leading to Togetsukyo Bridge
 Minnie mouse in Kimono

I have researched that Yoshimura is famous for soba in Arashiyama. It is located along the street which face Hozu river. It's full house when we reached Yoshimura hence we make a reservation and were asked to return 40min later.
Yoshimura restaurant
 Togetsukyo Bridge
View from Togetsukyo Bridge

Visitors can travel down the Hozu river in a kind of 'wooden' boat through the mountains from Kameoka (10min walk from JR Kameoka station) to Arashiyama. It cost ¥3,900 ~ S$60 and the ride is from 9am – 3pm.
Hozu riverboat

After walking around for 40min, we returned to Yoshimura. I ordered ebi oroshi soba (Cold soba with tempura and grated radish) which cost ¥1,365 ~ S$20.
Entrance of Yoshimura
Inside Yoshimura

View from Yoshimura
Tempura soba

After our lunch, we walked back to Arashiyama station (Keifu line) to take tram to Kitano-Hakubaicho where we can take a bus to Kinkakuji. The tram fare is flat ¥220 ~ S$3.50.
Tram route
Keifu tram

It takes about 20min to reach Kitano-Hakubaicho and then we took bus 205 to Kinkakuji.

Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) 金閣寺 is a zen temple whose top two floor are covered with gold leaf. Opening hours from 9am – 5pm and admission is ¥400. 
Another UNESCO site in my list
Close up view of Kinkakuji
The pavilion of Kinkakuji is not open for public hence we only know what's inside the pavilion from the photographs. 
Interior of the pavilion
Does the rock resemble carp?
 Make a wish
Tea garden cafe
Fudo hall
Ice cream vending machine
Batteries and ties vending machine

After spending about an hour in Kinkakuji, we continue our journey to Ninnaji while Fredrick's mom and relatives went back to the hostel as they are tired.

Ninnaji 仁和寺 is the head temple of the Omuro School of the Shingon sect of Buddhism and was founded in 888 by the reigning emperor. Over many centuries, a member of the Imperial Family used to serve as Ninnaji's head priest, and the temple was also known as Omuro Imperial Palace. Opening hrs: 9am – 4.30pm and admission: Free (temple grounds), ¥500 (former palace buildings).
Niomon front gate
 Chumon inner gate
Doesn't this resemble one of the gates in Kyoto Imperial Palace?

Ninnaji is famous for late blooming cherry trees called Omuro Cherries. Because the trees are late blooming, Ninnaji is a good place to visit towards the end of Kyoto's cherry blossom season, which is usually around mid April.
Omuro cherries
Monks chanting
Red maple leaves
Bell tower
Five stories Pagoda

After that, we took a bus to Royoanji which is a few stops away. Opening hrs: 8am -5pm and admission: ¥500. Chew Hiang and Fredrick are temple burnout hence they waited for me outside and I went in alone.

Royoanji 龍安寺 is a zen temple, famous for it's rock garden. The garden consists of raked gravel and fifteen moss-covered boulders, which are placed so that, when looking at the garden from any angle (other than from above) only fourteen of the boulders are visible at one time. It is traditionally said that only through attaining enlightenment would one be able to view the fifteenth boulder. I must have not gotten enlightenment cos I can only count 14 boulders. =p
Some believe that the garden represents the common theme of a tiger carrying cubs across a pond or of islands in a sea, while others claim that the garden represents an abstract concept like infinity. Because the garden's meaning has not been made explicit, it is up to each viewer to find the meaning for him/herself. It's so 'chim'.
Miniature of the rock garden
Rock garden
It's so crowded
Moss garden

Ryoanji's tsukubai (蹲踞), which is a small basin provided at Japanese Buddhist temples for visitors to purify themselves by the ritual washing of hands and rinsing of the mouth.
Ryoanji's tsukubai
Kuri, the main temple building
Tatami room inside the kuri 
Pagoda to commemorate those comrades who died during WWII
Lovely pond

We took a bus back to the hostel for a rest before heading out for dinner later.

I wanted to try the Kaiseki (traditional multi-course Japanese dinner) in Kyoto which it is famous for. However, the price of a Kaiseki is not cheap. The cheapest that I can find is Giro Giro Hitoshina 枝魯枝魯ひとしな and the set cost ¥3,680 ~ S$60 (one menu which change monthly). Address: 420-7 Nanba-cho, Nishi Kiya-machi-dori, Higashigawa, Matsubarashita, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto. Telephone: (075) 343-7070. Opening hours: 5.30pm – 11pm, closed on last Sun of the month. Best to make reservation first. I have asked the hostel to help us to make a reservation at Giro Giro Hitoshina for tonight's dinner. The earliest slot for our dinner is 8pm as the earlier slot are full.
We took JR train from Kyoto station to Tofukuji station and change to Keihan line to Kiyomizu-gojo station. Giro Giro is located along Takase-gawa which is within walking distance from the station.
View of Giro Giro Hitoshina from the path along the canal
Front view of Giro Giro Hitoshina
Chopstick holder and coaster

All of us ordered oolong tea ¥160 ~ S$2.50 which is the cheapest beverage on the menu.
I like the double layer transparent glass

The food portion is small but after finishing the 8 course kaiseki, it's quite filling. The serving of the food is quite slow as we took 2hrs to finish the 8 dishes. 
Fish, roe and raddish
Tofu, egg and pork
Potato, fish and mushroom soup
Sushi and scallop
Sardine, rice and vegetable
Chestnut rice, Salmon roe and egg plant, mushroom soup
Mochi, brownie, peanut macaron and pumpkin ice cream

By the time we finished our meal and settled the bills, it's already 11pm. We rushed back to the train station as we have to take the train and changed train again at Tofukuji station. When we reached Kyoto station, the bus has ceased operation hence we have to walk back to the hostel.

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