Showing posts with label Onsen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Onsen. Show all posts

Friday, 6 April 2018

8 - Return to the Golden Temple

(Monday 2nd April, Kyoto)

Another beautiful cherry blossom-filled day. 

In much the same way Awajishima is blessed with so much sunlight it can't use it all, Arashiyama is blessed with an abundance of sakura, so much so that you sadly reach a kind of plateau of happiness after about 36 hours. This is how it must have played out. A hundred years ago a guy decided to himself to plant a row of cherry trees along the river. "This is gonna look great, trust me," he told the other town planners who listened with polite but unconvinced expressions. "And it'll be great for the local economy too. People will come from miles around just to see this effusion of pink against the blue/green backdrop of the river."  They all sat doubtfully around the table for a moment, unsure. "For just one weekend a year?" They pause in hesitation. Then anther guy chimes in, "Yeah, but that weekend we'll all be able to knock off at six!" Thus the deal is sealed.

We retraced our steps across the bridge to an old traditional train station only to find that most of the tickets for the day had already been sold; we'd need to wait hours before being able to ride it.  
The unmistakable but very literal glass ceiling of Kyoto Station
Instead we moved on to Plan B: Kinkakuji (The Golden Temple). We got a train to Kyoto and found this nice kaiten zushi (conveyor belt sushi) restaurant in the catacombs, where you order in English by iPad, once again negating the need for uncomfortable human interaction.

Order via Ipad to avoid pesky human contact 
This left me in a strange predicament. I knew the name of my favourite sushi but only in spoken Japanese, not written. So I had no choice but to blurt out, "Sumimasen, shime saba arimusa ka?" to the chef for which I was rewarded for my efforts, like a seal, with some delicious vinegared mackerel.
Maguro, or raw tuna. The price of the dish is indicated by the colour of the plate

Job done!
An eye-popping variety of popcorn flavours 
From Kyoto station we took a bus to Kinkaku Ji (The Golden Temple - not to be confused with Ginkaku Ji, the Silver Temple) which I'd seen a few times before. We thought it would be an important part of our son's Japanese heritage and cultural education to show him it this holiday.
Kinkakuji - The Golden Temple

There were a lot of other tourists but we did our best to enjoy the garden for the beautiful spot it was meant to be. I imagined coming across the place by accident hundreds of years ago and the sense of awe that must have instilled. (I'd been stumbling through the undergrowth for days - my face, arms and legs gnawed to the bone by insects - when suddenly I fell into a clearing and rubbed my eyes. Hey, is that a golden temple?)
Shop til you drop : A mall stretches off to infinity
We took the bus back to Kyoto station and after searching for miles for a place to eat finally found an almost deserted Okonomiya san. I couldn't help wondering why it was so empty, but by then we were so exhausted and our feet so tired we threw caution to the wind, sat ourselves down and ordered a delicious meal.

Okonomiyaki is a kind of fried seafood omelet with fish flakes, sauce and mayonnaise

When we got back to Arashiyama we headed straight for the onsen, where I, feeling like the old hand professional and wanting to show off to my wife said, "Leave this to me, dear," and deftly purchased the tickets from the machine for 'weekday adult' times two plus a 'weekday child', only to be told that we had to use the more expensive weekend tickets. "Eh?" I said, "Isn't this a weekday?" but the guy insisted (without eye contact) that today we were to use the more expensive button. We looked back at the machine and sure enough there was a large hand-drawn arrow pointing at the 'Weekend ticket' button. Whether this was good or bad business sense only time will tell, but nonetheless, a good hot bath was had by all.

Read Day 9.