Kyoto-Osaka Series Day 3 (October 22, 2015)
If you have gone to the main tourist spots in Central or West Kyoto, I suggest going to Arashiyama next. The places are so scenic, natural and beautiful, worth the extra effort to travel west of Kyoto.
How to Get to Arashiyama
I found going to Arashiyama quite tricky for a DIY trip as it involved riding a bus and a train that lead to the outskirts of Kyoto. Based on research, the bus-train route was the most optimal and efficient. At first, we wanted to ride a train from Kyoto Station but even the officers guiding the tourists also recommended riding the bus.
From Kyoto Central, we rode the bus to Shijo-Omiya Station. After a number of stops, we were dropped off near the Keifuku Dentetsu-Arashiyama Line. We weren’t able to see the train station at first because there were other subways around that made it confusing. Thankfully, locals brought us to the right station that lead us to Arashiyama. Reg and I made it 5 minutes before the train left! It was apparently the first station of the train.
We alighted in Arashiyama Station and bought some snacks before starting the Arashiyama adventure. Stepping out of the station, we saw a number of rickshaws in the area where I was amazed at how the power of the body could do such activity. I am sure that the innovation of the rickshaw has been made more ergonomic in time but I still find it amazing!
I found Arashiyama tourist-friendly given all the signs in almost every corner. All we had to do was follow the directions that led us to our first agenda, Togetsukyo Bridge. It is considered one of the most popular spots in Arashiyama that spans the Katsura River. There were many shopping spots and restaurants near the bridge that made it attractive for tourists to visit. The best time to go to Arashiyama is in fall where cherry blossoms line the slopes with autumn colors.
Iwatayama Monkey Park
After a few minutes of admiring the scene, Reg and I found the Monkey Park. The Monkey Park is said to house about 170 monkeys, mostly wild but have grown accustomed to the presence of humans. We climbed the stairs to get to the entrance where we paid for our tickets and dropped off my stuff. Signs pointed to securing all belongings in case the monkeys try to grab hold of them.
There was a specific trail guiding the tourists to the main feeding and watching area. My heart skipped a beat when monkeys appeared along the trail. I tried my best to stay calm and act like a “monkey whisperer.” Thankfully, we reached the peak after about 30-45 minutes where the trail ended. I recommend tourists to wear comfortable walking shoes.
People were taking photos of the city from the peak while some were watching the monkeys. Reg and I headed to the cabin where we were allowed to feed the monkeys outside. We bought packed peanuts and fed various monkeys hanging outside the cabin, waiting for the treats. At first I didn’t want to do it but I eventually did when I saw Reg having fun. I found it therapeutic handing out the peanuts to the monkeys. I tried to be fair across all the monkeys.
After watching a couple of monkeys scratch their bodies as they lay on the roof, Reg and I followed the exit trail back down through a different route. Fortunately, no monkeys appeared to scare me!
It was a fun experience worth trying especially for the kids!
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