Happy birthday to me! Thanks for the birthday messages and texts, nice to know I haven’t been forgotten, apologies if I haven’t gotton back to you, it’s still pretty hectic.
We had a full day planned and as it was my birthday I got to choose. First off we caught the train to Inari, only a couple of stops out of Kyoto. This is the home of the Inari temple, and more popularly the Inari gates. There are over a 1000 gates leading up to the temple, and further up the mountain (should you go that far), but this is a very busy site, so although the gates are truly impressive and evocative, you are pretty much always in a crowd, I would imagine that if you got there very early there would be far fewer people.
Once we were finished there we jumped on the train back to Kyoto, and then another train to Arahsiyama. Here you will find the Bamboo forest, where I wanted to go to act out my Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon fantasies. A beautiful place, it is a small wood rather than the forest and you walk along paths so you cannot go into the forest itself, but it is a stunning place quite unlike anything you will see in Europe.
Amishyara is also where you will find the home of Okochi Sanso the famous Japanese film star. You have to pay to get in to this private residence, a bit like seeing National Trust gardens. He spent a lifetime developing the traditional Japanese style of garden (when he wasn’t acting) and it is beautiful, we had a green tea in a the tea house there, all very civilised. Some great views of Kyoto too, well worth a look.
After we crossed over the nearby crescent bridge and enjoyed a bbq corn on the cob by the river.
Evening was drawing in as we got back to Kyoto station. Kyoto has an amazing station, we went to the roof to look at the views over Kyoto, wandered around and admired the architecture, watched the staircase that also showed animations, admired the Christmas tree (yep, I know it’s only November but the Japanese are well into the Christmas season now and seem to do a better job of it than we do). We then sat and had a coffee and cake from one of the mid levels of the station and watched the world go by on the ground floor. If you ever want to marvel at people, watch them high up a busy station and try and figure out why thy never crash into each other, I love people watching and this was a great place to do it.
It was then off for dinner in Kyoto, nothing fancy, just meat rice and a beer, then we went to Sinbashi Dori, the street where all the posh dining is, I don’t think you can just walk into these restaurants, you have to be in the know! Then a walk along the river and a quick visit to a Pachinko parlour, we couldn’t figure out what you had to do and the noise was unreal so we went back to our room for some night caps, exhausted from a busy day.