After all the walking I did the day before, I really wanted to chill for a bit. A little trip to Arashiyama seemed like the perfect antidote. The village is not at all far from central Kyoto, and a short bus ride led me to this location. Thankfully, I arrived around 8:45, before the crowds.
The scenery was absolutely stunning. Even though I live in rural Korea, and Kyoto isn’t even that metropolitan, I was really craving some good old mountains and trees. Arashiyama did not disappoint.
I began my day by eating breakfast next to a beautiful river. There was virtually nobody there and I enjoyed being by myself in the quiet. I then debated as to whether or not I should rent a bike for the rest of the day, but wisely decided against it. Instead, I looked for the bamboo groves. Somehow, I took a few wrong turns and ended up hiking up a mountain. I don’t know how these things happen, but I was most certainly not prepared for it. I was also still tired and sore from the day before.
Yet, my hike led me to the most beautiful view. It was just me and this scenery for a good few minutes.
A few other hikers ended up in the same area, but they all left after a while. I took out my notebook and started journaling. Just as I did, some gongs from a nearby temple started playing in the background. Cue a riverboat and I got this picture.
Seriously though. What is my life?
After this magnificent view, I ended up finding the bamboo groves, which were a little disappointing. The instant I arrived, everyone and their mother began taking loads of pictures. It seemed a little humorous to me that we were all taking pictures of some trees.
Instead of walking through the bamboo groves though, I got sidetracked with a garden behind the groves. Nobody was walking through it, and I readily paid to enter the grounds. I had no idea what I was entering, but felt a little adventurous. My goodness was it worth it.
I ended up walking through some of the most beautiful gardens of my life.
Apparently, the grounds were once the home of a silent film actor. He obviously had an appreciation for beauty because this was his view.
The garden was virtually deserted and I enjoyed having the place nearly to myself. They also gave me tea and a sweet afterwards! The entire thing reminded me of Eat-Pray-Love for some reason.
Finally, I decided to walk through the bamboo groves, which had by now gotten even more crowded. It was almost impossible to not have people walking through your photos.
I also ran into a few shrines, but didn’t care much for them, as I was hungry.
After walking around for a bit, I decided to rent a bicycle so I could find a place to eat that wasn’t in such a touristy area. Little did I know that not only would riding a bike through these streets be TERRIFYING, but I’d also seriously struggle to find a place. I finally bought sushi from some random side street store and then rode my bike for nearly 30 minutes trying to find a place to sit. Exhausted, frustrated, and starving, I finally found a place in a park.
I think I just really needed to eat because after this, I was in a much better mood. I finally felt confident enough to ride my bike through the streets and explore a little more. Unfortunately, because I spent so much time trying to find a place to eat, I didn’t have much time left on the bike rental.
When I did turn my bike back in, I decided to walk around a little more and see some cute little shrines.
There was one particular garden that seemed to be very popular with everyone. In the end, I chose to skip this garden, as the garden from earlier was enough for me. Seeing that there wasn’t much to do after this, and not really caring to hike up another mountain to see a monkey park, I decided to head back to Kyoto.
In Kyoto, I ate an early dinner that tasted like Mexican food, and then walked around a beautiful temple.
Mostly, I was just trying to kill time before the main event — a tea ceremony.
Now, I’ve been to a tea ceremony before in Korea, but was excited to see what it’d be like in Japan. I ended up joining a ceremony with a young newlywed couple from England. Nothing makes a girl feel more like a third wheel than crashing someone’s honeymoon. But they were super nice and the lady who led the ceremony was so adorable. I could not believe how tiny she was! What is her secret?
The ceremony wasn’t much and mostly just consisted of us watching her prepare the tea and then show us how to make the matcha tea. It was yummy and I enjoyed having a break from sightseeing.
When the tea ceremony was over, I felt like shopping and ended up in the shopping district of Kyoto.
Unfortunately, just about everything was closing. I also had in mind that I wanted to eat another dinner, as I felt like my earlier dinner wasn’t that great. I walked into a random, crowded restaurant and had some of the most delicious dinner of my life. It was literally just a hole-in-the-wall place, but it was AMAZING. Now I know what tempura is supposed to taste like. However, I overestimated how much I could eat. Halfway through the dinner, I felt like I was going to throw up because of how full I was.
I walked around Kyoto a little more after this and went back to my hostel around 9. At the hostel, I met some girls who were also traveling around Japan. We exchanged stories over some yummy Japanese tea.