When I was planning for Japan, I had a hard time booking our rooms. This was three sold months before the trip, so these were not last minute bookings, but somehow, all the rooms in good location are booked way ahead of time, on the particular week we were in Japan. And then I found out it was the exact week where autumn in Japan is in full fall explosion. There are two super high tourist season in Japan: that week in Spring when cherry blossoms bloom, and the week where the colorful leaves of Autumn start to fall, and we have unknowingly set our vacation right smack in the middle of that crazy fall booking season.
But this is Japan, and even in Kyoto where the bus system is much more convenient than subways, any hotel location is a good location as long as there is a bus stop. You can get anywhere fast as long as you know which bus to take, and armed with a 500 yen day bus pass, you can pretty much go anywhere in Kyoto.
When Jr and I travel, I do not follow any generic itinerary that first pops up in a google search. When crafting an itinerary, I employ the “one for you, one for me” method. We’ll go to watch museums and car meccas for him and then he won’t complain if he spends the afternoon sitting down on a bench while waiting for me to be happy with the shots I have. He’s not a happy traveler. I’ve handled many groups and dealt with many characters on the road and by far, I can say, he’s my worst travel participant. By designing our own itinerary, I am happy, and I keep him happy enough so we can travel again.
So for my day in Kyoto, I dragged him to the central Kyoto station and make him ride a hour on a bus going to Arashiyama. Arashiyama lies on the outskirts of Kyoto, and is most famous for its bamboo grove. The only probable reason why you will consider going here is for the pathway leading to a sprawling forest of towering bamboos. The bamboo stalks dance with the wind; the rays of sunlight frolic around them with each sway. It’s romantic in concept, but as with any popular area in Japan, it’s chaotic in reality. There’s heavy foot traffic all throughout the pathway, far from the serene, calming photographs that enticed you to endure the trek here in the first place. Jr decided he’ll just wait at one of the stores that lined the busy street. Take all the time you need, he told me. I entered the alley leading to the grove and there were people everywhere. But Japan is just beautiful, in every angle. Crowded or not.
And if you stand still long enough, magic happens.
When I came back from the pathway to see my husband on a bench, eating an ice cream in 12° weather, I excitedly told him what he missed. I scrolled thru my camera to show him, to which he said,
“Ay kawayan lang pala. Madami sa Pililia nito.”
Arashiyama Bamboo Groves
How we got there: Took the Kyoto Bus #28 from Kyoto Station to Arashiyama