Japan 2013: Day 7 Kyoto Part 3

DAY 7 (CON’T)

As per recommended itinerary, walked out on Tenryuji and onto a bamboo-lined path. This is none other the famous Bamboo Groves walking path.

Arashiyama Bamboo 1

As per the itinerary guide, the path starts in the direction towards Okochi Sanso (a conservation villa that I did not include in my itinerary, but heard glowing reviews about).

Arashiyama Bamboo 2

A pretty nice and cooling walk amongst the bamboo groves, despite the crowd. The still-ness of the air gives one the feeling of being in 竹林深处 (Wang Lee Hom has a song of the same title). Believe the walk is quite a long one, but somehow didn’t really explore the path full distance as I walked back to where I came from again ……

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Decided that I would head back out to the main road (leading to the JR Station) so that I could grab some much-needed lunch (its already 130pm) and then continue on to the Togetsukyo Bridge along the riverbanks. Simply followed the crowd until it lead out to a main road lined with restaurants. After glancing through one or two restaurants along the street, settled on this restaurant – the first one I chanced upon right on the main street!

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This turned out to be the Udon O’zuru restaurant that I had marked down in my travel notebook from the gurunavi website in the morning. Perfect luck in finally locating one of the places I earmarked to eat at after the disaster that was Pontocho the night before 😛

O’zuru is a basic no-frills restaurant that specialize in udon noodles. The english menu was definitely a plus!

Arashiyama Lunch

Chose the tempura set with udon (served warm) that comes with a bowl of rice (with chicken and vegetables) since I was really hungry + you get more things with a set for just 500 JPY more as compared to ordering just ala-carte udon alone. Chose tempura instead the duck soba as I have yet to have any tempura in my 7 days in Japan so far ……

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Very delicious meal as I was hungry. The udon was really soft, and felt smooth when eaten. While the soup actually tasted flavourful as well …… Furthermore for the 1780 JPY that I paid for this meal (one of my more expensive lunches so far in the trip), the portions (udon noodles), tempura and even the rice (bigger portion that the pictures indicate) are pretty decent. Thinking of it now, I would have loved to try the duck soba instead as it seemed to be a local Kyoto speciality less commonly found (as I couldn’t find it back in Tokyo later on) …… but ultimately the temptation of piping hot fried tempura on a cool day won out! It doesn’t take away the fact though that it was a very satisfying and filling lunch!

It was already 230pm when I’m done with lunch. As Tongetsukyo Bridge (next on the itinerary) seemed quite a distance away (based on the road signs that I saw) …… decided that I should head back to Torokko Saga Station (start point of the Sagano Scenic Railway) which is just right beside JR Saga-Arashiyama Station where I originally came from.

Before that, more street views of Arashiyama. Spotted a tofu and beef restaurant right opposite O’zuru. Seems like Kyoto is well known for its tofu. Once again, am blessed with a clear blue sky and bright day in Arashiyama ……

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After passing by the building with the wood suface called Black Paint (note: it is actually a beauty place known for its charcoal masks, apt business name indeed :P) …… discovered a sign at the corner of the building which indicates I’m just 300m to 400m away to Saga Torokko. I’m way nearer then it seems. Yahoo!

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Went on the corner pathway with the crowd which brought me back to the station. Reached at around 2.48pm, and have some time before my scheduled ride at 3.07pm (tickets reserved the day before at JR West office at Kyoto Station). Mid to late November is the peak tourist season in Kyoto (due to autumn foliage). Thus apart from the railway being open on Wednesdays (usually closed on Wednesdays for off-peak seasons) …… one is also strongly advised to reserve tickets a few days ahead, or else you will end up squeezing in the free standing area. As you can see, the last train at 5.07pm only has free standing seats left.

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Nothing much to see at look at the train station itself, so got into the quene leading to the waiting platform for the train to get ready for the next item of my agenda – the Sagano Scenic Railway!

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Decided before heading to the platform to purchase a return ticket from the end point of the ride (Kameoka) back to Saga Torokko. The original plan was to take a 5 min walk from Kameoka to JR Umahori station (that would have saved me 600 JPY one way) …… but since I will be heading to the Tongetsukyo Bridge after the Scenic Railway ride (less rush as I would have more time to enjoy the sights around the bridge), decided that spending 600 JPY on the return journey back to Saga Torokko would be a more sensible choice than trying to save 600 JPY by changing JR train back to Saga-Arashiyama …… as either way, it is still a 15 min walk to the bridge!

Off we go on the railway!

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Some background information on the Sagano Scenic Railway as extracted from Japan Guide. This is one of the must-do items during autumn season in Arashiyama.

The Sagano Scenic Railway (嵯峨野観光鉄道, also known as the Sagano Romantic Train or Sagano Torokko) is a sightseeing train line that runs along the Hozugawa River between Arashiyama and Kameoka. Its charming, old fashioned trains wind their way through the mountains at a relatively slow pace, taking about 25 minutes to make the seven kilometer journey and giving passengers a pleasant view of the scenery as they travel from Arashiyama through the forested ravine and into rural Kameoka.

Originally part of the JR Sanin Line before it was replaced by a faster, straighter route in 1989, the scenic railway route was preserved and outfitted with nostalgic trains featuring wooden benches. The views along the line change with the seasons, and the train is particularly popular during the autumn color season from mid November to early December when the leaves along the ravine change color. Trains do not operate in winter from December 31 to the end of February.

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Struggled to get some good shots on the train (despite having a window seat) as the moving train meant that I had to constantly adjust the ISO and shutter speed in order to get more stable images. However did manage to get a shot of a group of people who actually stopped and waved to us when the train passed them doing the Hozugawa River Cruise. Really spontaneous and sporting of them!

Sagano Scenic Rail 1

Took more of the river stream (Hozu River) close up admist the rocks and emerald green water while I still struggle to get a good camera setting to do justice to the beautiful autumn leaves along the rail way ……

Sagano Scenic Rail 2

Reached the end terminus Kameoka …… and the last minute change of plan to purchase the return ticket back to Saga Torokko turned out to be a godsend! Surrounding Kameoka was mainly farming plots. How on earth I am going to figure out how to get to JR Kameoka station from the terminus stop. Guess the simpler and more convenient alternative would be to just spend the 600 JPY extra on the return train, which was whatI did 🙂

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