Kyoto, Japan, October 2011 travel blog

Arashiyama's famous bamboo forest

Tenryu-ji Temple

Garden at Tenryu-ji, one of Japan's oldest gardens

Young women experiencing wearing kimono in a gorgeous setting.

Torokko train

Boaters on the river

First colorful leaves, bright in the rain

Douglas explaining about entry stones (in the pouring rain!)

Celebrating the birth of Alan's grandson, toasting with sake

The day started out chilly and gloomy. I thought I was back in Oregon!

Today we took many forms of transportation. Tamao is an expert at getting us to our connections on time, and luckily, everyone in the group takes being prompt seriously.

We started on the subway, getting off at Teningawa, then rode a streetcar to Arashiyama, in the western area of Kyoto. We walked along a river, through neighborhoods, until we came upon the famed Bamboo Forest, with thick stands of very tall bamboo. Douglas talked about bamboo as a plant, how it grows, how to control its spread, and how it is different from trees.

Just outside our next destination was a public bathroom, with a vending machine for toilet paper! Though I had seen vending machines selling just about everything else, that was a first. We entered Tenryu-ji, Japan’s oldest garden, having been built about 1339! The rocks, trees, buildings, and other features blend seamlessly together. It is nothing short of spectacular.

While there, we had a chance to talk to two young women from Tokyo who had come to Kyoto for a few days. They were students of tea ceremony and were wearing lovely kimonos. There is a renewed interest in kimono wearing among young women.

We ambled through a graveyard, giving Douglas a chance to explain about cemeteries in Japan. We spoke briefly with a caretaker who was weeding the area, sweeping up leaves, and generally keeping it lovely. Spent a little time at a bamboo shop, where I was impressed by the variety of bamboo baskets.

We then took the Torroko train through a wonderful river gorge. We had hoped for more vibrant fall colors, but the mist rising about the water and settling into the forested hillsides had everyone clicking cameras almost continuously. A public bus took us to our first Italian restaurant for lunch. By then, it had started raining hard, so while the lunch had been planned for service in the garden, we opted to eat inside. We braved the insistent rain to walk through the lovely garden, then wandered off to the last planned event of the day, taking the train back to Uzumasa.

We were fortunate to be able to have full access to the Uetoh Zoen Garden Nursery, a garden supply firm. Douglas explained that when houses are torn down in Japan, the land is totally cleared. Trees, shrubs, and garden decorations such as lanterns are removed from the land and taken to places like this nursery, where they will be stored until another homeowner buys them for reuse in their garden. Despite increasingly hard rain, we wandered amongst huge rocks, beautifully pruned pines, and garden ornaments.

After a very long bus ride back to Kyoto, we returned to the hotel, looking like a horde of refugees. I took my raincoat, pants, and shirt down to the laundry and used the dryer to make them serviceable for tomorrow, when it is supposed to continue to rain. We are scheduled to go to Nara.

We had an impromptu gathering in the hotel's community room to toast Alan's new grandson. How many newborns get toasted with top ranked Japanese sake?

With rain pounding, I'm off to bed. At least the rain was warm.

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