Wednesday, March 7, 2012

kyoto: ryoan-ji and arashiyama

From Kinkaku-ji we caught the 59 bus down to Ryōan-ji or the Temple of the Dragon at Peace. The most famous thing here is the zen rock garden. The garden was created at the end of the Muromachi Period around 1500 but the creator is unknown. There are 15 rocks in the garden surrounded by white pebbles that are raked everyday by the monks. Unless you're looking from above (not opened to the public) only 14 out of the 15 rocks can be seen at any angle. The wall behind the garden also plays an important part in the zen garden. The wall is made of clay and oil; the design on the wall is created by the oil seeping out of the wall over time.

This tatami room faces the rock garden. How awesome would it have been to just sit there drinking tea and enjoying the peace and quiet?!? Of course kneeling down for long periods of time isn't comfy at all so I don't know how those people did it. There is also a famous stone wash-basin, Tsukubai, on the grounds but I didn't take a picture of it because I didn't know it was famous. Lol. We planned to head over to the Arashiyama Area but while waiting for the bus Riley was complaining about being hungry, so we headed back into the city to grab a bite to eat.

I finally ate at Yoshinoya! I've seen Yoshinoya's all around Taiwan and in America but never had the chance to eat there before. We chose this place since its fast food we wouldn't waste so much time eating and also because it's super cheap! Yes anything under 500 yen is considered cheap now. Haha.

meals for under 500 yen!
beef bowl
Just as we finished our meal we saw the bus heading to Arashiyama pass by so we had to run hardcore to catch the bus. Good thing little old grannies were getting on the bus so we were able to jump on last minute. Buses in the Arashiyama area aren't covered by the Kyoto One-Day Bus Pass and aren't flat fare based but rather based on distance. If you purchase the One-Day Pass you just need to pay an additional 190 yen to cover the distance outside the area the pass covers. We headed all the way across town to Arashiyama because we wanted to check out the Iwatayama Monkey Park. Along the way we checked out the Nonomiya-jinja or Shrine of the Country which is where the imperial princesses resided to purify themselves before going to serve at Ise Shrine. I actually managed to visit Ise Shrine so more on that later.

Near the Nonomiya-jinja is the Sagano Bamboo Forest. I thought the bamboo forest would be an actual forest with dirt paths wandering through them and if people chose they could wander amongst the bamboo. It was nothing like that. The bamboo on either side of a giant path and is fenced off. Bummer because it would have been nice to run through the bamboo and take coquettish photos of myself peeking from behind the bamboo. Haha.

To get to the Iwatayama Monkey Park we needed to cross the Togetsukyō Bridge which is known for its amazing views of the cherry blossoms and autumn leaves on Mt. Arashiyama. Unfortunately this wasn't the season for either so the view was pretty dreary.

The river you see in the picture is the Oi River and after the bridge, it becomes the Katsura River. No clue why the name changes when the river is still the same. When we arrived at the Iwatayama Monkey Park we found out the park closed at 4:30 pm and we had just missed closing time by 5 minutes! Probably shouldn't have spent all that time in the Sagano Bamboo Forest but Riley insisted on walking through the whole thing. Ugh I was so annoyed that we came out all the way to Arashiyama and didn't get to see the monkeys.

On the way back to Osaka we stopped at the Cascade Bakery to grab some pastries that ended up being my dinner. I love how the train stations are literally mini malls where I don't have to leave to buy food or do some shopping.

lemon cannoli and a twist dipped in chocolate
The cannoli cost 140 yen and the the twist cost 160 yen. Bakeries are not cheap! The twist tasted like a palmier but with chocolate. Both were delicious but pricy!

The Details
13 Goryonoshita-machi, Ryoanji, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto
hours: 8:00-17:00 (Mar.-Nov.)  8:30-16:30 (Dec.-Feb.)
admission fee: 500 yen
directions: take bus #101 or #205 from Kyoto Main Station to Kinkakuji-michi stop and then transfer to bus line #12 or #59 and get off at Ryoanji-mae stop

Arashiyama Area - UPDATED APRIL 2014
Bus line # 11, #28, and #93 go to this area but only #28 goes all the way to the Kyoto Main Station. As of March 22nd 2014 the Kyoto One Day Bus Pass is also valid in the Arashiyama Area!
The Hankyu Arashiyama Station is located nearby on the side of the river where the Iwatayama Monkey Park is located. The Hankyu Arashiyama Line is accessible from Katsura Station which is connected to the Kyoto Main Station by the Hankyu Train Line.

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