This is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start at the very beginning, click here.
After our lunch in Unagiya Horikawa, we took some time to walk down the main street of Arashiyama. This is a really busy tourist district – you can see the people packing the sidewalk. There are many, many restaurants and souvenir shops along the way.
Right at the bottom of Arashiyama, there is Togetsukyo Bridge. This famous bridge is popular for couples to do selfies, but we didn’t cross the bridge. Across there you can see part of Iwatayama Monkey Park.
Anyway earlier in the restaurant during lunch we saw some people holding %Arabica coffee cups, so we asked around for directions. Turns out its very near the bridge – facing the river with a fantastic view of the sunset. This is the second branch we patronized in Kyoto, but this being a more popular one. The queue to get our coffee fix probably took 20 minutes.
After getting our coffee, we made a beeline for the Keifuku-Arashiyama tram station. This is the only tram line in Kyoto, it functions just like a normal train but it moves slower and looks quite different.
Our destination is to Kinkakuji in the north of Kyoto, and getting there is a little tricky. We are supposed to board the tram, get off, switch to bus, and then walk a bit. But seeing that it was getting late and closing time for the temple was fast approaching, we boarded a taxi after getting off the tram.
It turned out to be a good move, as we made it to the temple just 5 minutes before the last entry. Phew!
Anyway, what is Kinkakuji? Well, it is one of the most iconic views Kyoto. It is a small golden coloured temple beside a zen garden and pond. It is best to catch it in the late evening, like we did, when golden paint catches the setting sun rays.
You will see the famous view of the temple immediately after you enter the grounds.
This place should not be confused with Ginkakuji, another famous temple (called Silver Pavilion), in another part of Kyoto.
Besides the golden temple, there isn’t much else to see in this place, but you can walk one loop around the garden.
Anyway, the original plan for today was to see Ryoanji together with Kinkakuji, since they are both located near each other. However, since it was already late, we decided to put off Ryoanji for another day. So for dinner, we boarded a long bus ride back to the city to Daimaru.
Daimaru is the second biggest department store in Kyoto (the biggest being Takashiyama on the same street). All these high end stores are located in Shijo-Dori, something like Fifth Avenue in New York or Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles, where is the biggest and most expensive fashion shops are located. At this time, the busiest stretch of Shijo-Dori was all lighted up for Christmas.
The reason we were going to Daimaru is to have dinner at the basement food hall. This phenomenon of basement food hall, known as ‘depachika’ is very popular in Japan. Good ones like Daimaru have huge selection of fresh and delicious snacks and pre-packed meals to choose from. Another impressive one that we found was Hanshin in Namba Parks, Osaka (we’ll get to that later).
We bought lots of stuff and took it to the seats outside and we had a good and cheap dinner.
Next – Ryoanji