Kyoto

We have made it to Kyoto. Kyoto served as Japan's capital and the emperors's residence from 794 until 1868. It is one of the country's ten largest cities with a population of 1.5 million people and a modern face. Countless temples shrines, and other historically priceless structures survive in the city today.

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Kyoto has more shrines and temples you can shake a stick at. We visited the one of the most popular called the Fushimi Inari Shrine on the outskirts of Kyoto. It is dedicated to Inari the diety of rice and sake.


It is famous for its thousands of vermilion tore gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings. The trails lead into the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari, which stands at 233 meters and belongs to the shrine grounds.
At the very back of the shrine's main grounds is the entrance to the torii gate-covered hiking trail, which starts with two dense, parallel rows of gates called
Senbon Torii ("thousands of torii gates"). The torii gates along the entire trail are donations by individuals and companies, and you will find the donator's name and the date of the donation inscribed on the back of each gate. The cost starts around 400,000 yen for a small sized gate and increases to over one million yen for a large gate.

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In the afternoon we visited the Higashiyama District along the lower slopes of Kyoto's eastern mountains, it is one of the city's best preserved historic districts. Apparently it is a great place to experience traditional old Kyoto, especially between
Kiyomizudera and Yasaka Shrine, where the narrow lanes, wooden buildings and traditional merchant shops invoke a feeling of the old capital city. Lots of young couples walk around in hired Kimonos which gives it a picturesque look.
The streets in Higashiyama are lined by small shops, cafes and restaurants which have been catering to tourists and pilgrims for centuries. These businesses retain their traditional design, although many have been renovated through the years, and they continue to serve customers today, selling local specialties such as Kiyomizu-yaki pottery, sweets, pickles, crafts and other souvenirs. All in all a massive tourist centre that still operates as a Geisha centre.

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Arashiyama


Today we decided to visit Arashiyama and area west of Kyoto. It should be said that Kyoto is rammed full of tourists of which we are too of course. This means that the busy it is the more you have to research and pre-book. We got the train to Arashiyama, I have been to the wrong railway station in my time and have also caught the wrong train. But this was a first time I have caught the wrong train at the wrong station.


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Arashiyama is a pleasant, very touristy district in the western outskirts of Kyoto. The area has been a popular destination since the 794, when nobles would enjoy its natural setting. Arashiyama is particularly popular during the cherry blossom and late fall colour seasons.
The togetsukyo bridge is quite pretty, but seen one bridge seen them all. We managed to get to Arashiyama on our wrong train with only a slight detour with help from a kindly Japanese lady who used to live there.

We visited the Zen Temple called "Tenryu-ji" a Unesco World Heritage site, Although rebuilt like most of japan in the 1860's . We also saw the
cloud dragon picture finished in 1997! Cost me 500 yen.

We also strolled in the pretty landscape garden attached to the temple and then went with the mass of people to walk down the bamboo groves. I have to say people are not shy of taking selfies in a variety of artless poses, more entertaining than the bamboo. You can take a scenic railway journey up river and return by boat skilfully managed by a couple crew with sticks. Unfortunately our poor planning meant we did not book the train ticket early enough and the trains were all full until late in the afternoon and the boats were all cancelled due to strong winds.

After two attempts we found the correct railway station home, which is apparently a quite famous tramcar railway all very "Thomas the Tank Engine."

For all you trainspotter: The Randen Line operated by Keifuku Electric Railroad can be considered the last tram line in Kyoto.

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Speaking of selfies , how about this selfie-stick Go Pro action.

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