Travel: Japan Trip 2012 (Day 4 – Kyoto, Arashiyama)

See: Japan Trip 2012 itinerary and summary

Day 4: November 29

Uh oh, this post is going to be overloaded with amazing autumn colours. Be warned…

In the morning we took a subway to Kitaoiji station, then a bus to Kinkakuji. It was an absolutely stunning day and we were so lucky that we were able to witness some of the peak autumn foliage colours in Kyoto. It was breathtaking.

japan trip 2012 kyoto kinkakuji

IMGjapan trip 2012 kyoto kinkakuji0677

japan trip 2012 kyoto kinkakuji

japan trip 2012 kyoto kinkakuji autumn leaves

japan trip 2012 kyoto kinkakuji autumn leaves

japan trip 2012 kyoto kinkakuji autumn leaves

japan trip 2012 kyoto kinkakuji autumn leaves

Finally making ourselves leave Kinkakuji, we then walked to Ryoanji, which took around 15-20 minutes.

japan trip 2012 kyoto ryoanji

japan trip 2012 kyoto ryoanji autumn leaves

japan trip 2012 kyoto ryoanji autumn leaves

japan trip 2012 kyoto ryoanji autumn leaves

From Ryoanji, we wanted to walk to Ryoanji station to get to Arashiyama. We were in some very quiet suburban streets and there weren’t any signs to help us so we asked an elderly couple for directions. As it turns out they were also trying to find the station and were going by “probably in this direction?”, which was the same direction we were all going in. We more or less followed behind them, and every time they turned a corner they would turn around and motion to us. It was so cute! We did end up correctly at Ryoanji station, and took two trains to Randen-Saga station. From there we had some difficulty finding Saga-Arashiyama station (which is supposedly only 300m away!). At Saga-Arashiyama station, the plan was to buy Sagano Scenic Railway passes for that day. Unfortunately they were all sold out (Arashiyama is very popular in autumn for its autumn foliage), and while night-time passes were available, the staff advised that we wouldn’t be able to see anything in the dark, so we decided against it. Oh well, next time…

japan trip 2012 arashiyama autumn leaves

japan trip 2012 arashiyama autumn leaves

From there we decided to just explore the main attractions. We wandered to Tenryuuji (didn’t go in though) and visited Sogen garden. We also walked along the bamboo grove, which was so crowded with people and yet taxis were still trying to crawl through – probably moving slower than the people walking.

japan trip 2012 arashiyama

japan trip 2012 arashiyama bamboo grove

We wanted to head towards Togetsukyo, but once again we were going in the wrong direction! A traffic control officer helped point us in the right direction. (Going the wrong direction was starting to become an unfortunate theme…) Righting ourselves direction-wise, we passed through Kameyama park and and climbed to the 340m summit.

japan trip 2012 arashiyama

Eventually we reached the river surrounded by the forested mountainside and Togetsukyo.

japan trip 2012 arashiyama

japan trip 2012 arashiyama

Around the bridge seemed to be a busy area, with lots of shops and buses. We wandered into a few shops and then decided to have a very early dinner before heading back to Kyoto.

japan trip 2012 food

japan trip 2012 food

So… we got lost again trying to find Saga-Arashiyama station!!! Life would have been so much easier if I had internet on my phone. We asked some store workers for help and they whipped out a schematic map with scribbles all over it (I assume they had used it to help others before us). With the help of that map and after walking probably five times the distance it should’ve been, we finally arrived at the station. I am definitely more prepared when I visit Japan now. The diagrams on the internet always make places look so easy and obvious, but in reality there are a lot more roads, turns and forks!

We took the train back to Kyoto station and decided to continue to Eikando, which was open for autumn light up illuminations. We took two subway trains to Keage station, from which it meant to be a 20 minute walk. All was well at the start as there were signs on the road pointing to Nanzenji and Eikando (the latter being further). Unfortunately the signs stopped after Nanzenji, as it was the more popular of the two. We trusted our gut and kept walking but we really couldn’t be sure that we weren’t once again hopelessly lost. Thankfully we would not get lost for the millionth time that day!

japan trip 2012 kyoto eikando

japan trip 2012 kyoto eikando autumn leaves

japan trip 2012 kyoto eikando autumn leaves

The walk back to Keage station seemed much shorter now that we knew where we were going.

  • Ria

    My most favorite picture was thay stoned pathway with the autumn leaves.

    I’m happy I can relateto this post as I’ve been to most of the places mentioned. Wah! Our Sagano train ride made a comeback in my mind. I hope you get to ride it in the future. I’d take the boat ride next time I’m at the area. I also want to take the train again and again! I hope you get to take the open carriage.