It was clear blue skies with a warm forecast for our day in Arashiyama, an area of Kyoto on the western side of the city. About 30 minutes by train from Kyoto central station, Arashiyama makes for a good day trip.
We started the day by going to the monkey park located up the hill on the other side of the river. We were the first people up there for the day and the monkeys must know the schedule; as we arrived they were all making their way to the area where you can feed them. To feed the monkeys, you go inside a hut/cage where you can buy fruit or raw peanuts for ¥100 a bag, and you just feed the monkeys on the other side of the bars! They’re free to roam and it’s pretty entertaining watching them all interact!
We then made a quick visit to Tenryu-Ji Buddhist temple and its 1600 year old gardens. It was quite hot by this stage and really busy at the temple so we didn’t hang around for too long. And in any case we had an appointment at Kokedera, better known as The Moss Temple.
They only allow a limited number of visitors in to the moss temple and you have to write a letter to the monks with preferred dates that you would like to visit. We arranged all this well in advance before leaving for Japan with some tips from a friend. Once inside, you go through a Buddhist ceremony in which you write (actually trace) the Buddhist text before entering the gardens where you are free to roam.
The gardens themselves are impressive having had generations of monks weed out everything except moss, creating this bright green carpet.
Heading back to the centre or Arashiyama, towards the end of the day we wandered through Arashiyama park which connects to the famous bamboo grove; another iconic location from Japan. It’s much smaller than you might expect, but lovely nevertheless and especially at that time of day.
For our final day in Kyoto we thought we would take things a little bit easier and spent the day doing a bit of shopping and eating before making our way to Kiyomizu-dera overlooking Kyoto towards the end of the day.
The gates close before sunset at this time of year meaning that you don’t get to see sunset from the temple, but it did provide some spectacular shots of the gates at the front of the temple complex.
Walking back down the hill, we made our way through the Gijon district where we were lucky enough to see a procession of Mika with a crazy crowd of photographers in tow.
And with that we ended our time in Kyoto. It was a busy few days as there is just so much to see and do there. We could have easily spent a few more days there, but it was time to move on to our next destination, heading south towards the island of Miyajima.