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.
Finally making ourselves leave Kinkakuji, we then walked to Ryoanji, which took around 15-20 minutes.
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…
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.
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.
Eventually we reached the river surrounded by the forested mountainside and Togetsukyo.
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.
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!
The walk back to Keage station seemed much shorter now that we knew where we were going.