Arashiyama: Round Two

Fall colors are here, and they won’t last long. Arashiyama is one of the best viewing spots for the changing leaves in Kyoto, and for that reason, millions of tourists visit this spot annually.

Since my first visit to Arashiyama, I have told myself that I must absolutely go back during the height of autumn, to see the full, paint-like texture of the hills during the autumnal color shift. Since Nicky both had work today, and doesn’t like monkeys, Erin and I decided to head to Arashiyama.

As expected, all of Arashiyama was packed with tourists. No matter which way you went, tourists lined the streets- it was impossible to escape them until we went towards the monkey park, as the monkey park is nestled up a mountain’s side. Before we went, however, we made a quick stop at the Torokko Station to buy tickets for the Sagano Romantic Train. I’ve been on the train once before, on Nicky’s birthday, but this time, I wanted to take the train at night, to see the maple leaves under spotlight. We were lucky enough to be able to purchase standing tickets for the last train.

Arashiyama Monkey Park is famous for the roughly 200 monkeys that wonder the top of the mountain, as over time, they have grown used to humans. The monkeys are also famous for being fairly aggressive, and it is suggested that you not let your children walk around without supervision, or stare at the monkeys for any extended length of time.

The walk up the mountain was gorgeous, if a bit steep (or I could just be out of shape). The colors looked like acrylic paint spotted all over a canvas. Completely unreal. Until this fall, I had been certain that all of the photos I had seen of Kyoto in fall had some sort of saturation/contrast filter going on to make the colors stand out more, but now I find that is absolutely not the case. They really are -that- vivid.

We bought food to feed the monkeys at the top of the hill, where Erin was promptly threatened by one of the monkeys on the roof, before we decided to watch the monkeys from inside the safe house for a while.

After we had our fill of monkeys, we headed back down the mountain to go get some lunch. We got some delicious osukinomiyaki and candy apples! The osukinomiyaki (roughly fry-whatever-you-like!) was absolutely delicious. Every single bite was heaven. There was egg and beef in addition to the usual sauce and cabbage. The apples were huge, and not prepared quite like their American cousins, so they took well over 45 minutes to consume. Still, they were super delicious, though I am in possession of, as most know, a terribly strong sweet tooth.

After lunch, we headed back into town to swing by the Tenryuji Temple, which is another famous temple in Kyoto- However, since both of us were feeling pretty tapped out on temples at the moment, we just walked the rim of the temple before heading to the bamboo forest. For one reason or other, I can’t seem to find the real name for this bamboo forest, but it is something not to be missed if you go to Arashiyama. If you have ever seen House of Flying Daggers and remember the fight scene in the bamboo forest, this forest is pretty much a replica.

There were a bunch of merchants along the path, so Erin and I stopped to buy postcards drawn by a local artist, and then these really awesome dragonfly toys that balance on your finger. I bought one for Nicky, since she wasn’t able to come with us, before taking Erin through the rest of the forest.

Around this time, our feet were tired, and it was about time for our Torokko ride, so we headed back to the station. It was just as good the second time as it was he first. In the dark, we watched as gold and amber leaves lit up by spotlights on the ground rushed by us, while the dark of the tunnels completed the overall feeling. It was really fun, and I think Erin enjoyed herself too. We caught the JR line at the last station to head back home. While walking back to our houses, we stopped to eat crepes- a perfect end to the day.