November 17, 2010
Kyoto Day 2: Arashiyama
(I skipped day 1 because I spent the majority of the day on an FDP for class and I already spent too long writing a paper about it so I had no motivation to re-write a blog about it. I’ll get to it eventually though, because it was a fun day wandering around gorgeous gardens.)
This morning we woke up relatively early and went on a hunt for breakfast. It wasn’t easy because most places didn’t open until 11. I’m sure we could’ve easily found something if we wanted to eat fish and other things covered in soy sauce for breakfast but I just couldn’t do that. We ended up at the Kyoto train station because that was pretty much an entire city all by itself, with shopping, pharmacies, food and anything else you can think of. We found a sign that pointed to more restaurants upstairs. There were 11 stories and we didn’t find anything that was open until floor 9. It was a waffle place. I had the best waffle I’ve ever had in my life…with fresh fruit and what was supposed to be yogurt but what I think was actually ice cream…oops! It rivaled croissant French toast…didn’t quite beat it, but it was close.
After we were stuffed from breakfast, we got on a train to Arashiyama. The tourist office told us that’s where we should go to see the changing of the seasons event. It was only a 15 minute train ride and we got off and just started walking. We attempted to ask directions but were terribly unsuccessful, so we decided to just follow the crowd. We were worried that we wouldn’t be able to find anywhere to sleep in Kyoto because all the hotels were booked for this event. Every single person in Japan was in this little town to see the beautiful fall foliage. So, following the crowd was a safe bet. We walked through a little residential neighbor hood until the houses turned into stores and strange-smelling restaurants.
We quickly discovered why everyone was here. Mount Arashiyama forms a gorgeous backdrop to the town and all the trees were the most spectacular colors. It was almost a complete rainbow—the most beautiful fall foliage I’ve ever seen. I want to go back during the cherry blossom season because I’m sure that would be just as beautiful. I can’t wait to add pictures to this blog because that’s really the only way to understand how gorgeous it was. The pictures I took on my phone don’t even do it justice…
We wandered around the streets, which was anything but relaxing because there were too many people and we practically had to be holding hands in order to not lose each other. We searched for sushi but every restaurant was so crowded with huge lines waiting so we ended up eating street food. It was definitely an adventure but it was such a terrible idea. Morgan and I got these dough balls that had a little piece of octopus in it. It looked amazing while they were making it but it tasted like feet and had the texture of…I don’t know…I can’t even think of something gross enough to explain its texture. Kelsey got the noodle dish they were making and it looked awesome, noodles, unidentifiable meat, egg, veggies and soy sauce, but then it was topped with these nasty dried fish flakes and it ruined the whole thing. Bad choices. Oh well, live and learn.
After our food failure and another hour of walking and admiring, we headed to the Sagano bamboo forest. I don’t have to describe that to you because it is exactly what you think it is: a forest of bamboo. It was massive and dense and gorgeous but lost our interest after 15 minutes because the scenery wasn’t changing at all.
After our walk through the forest we successfully made our way back to the train station and headed back to Kyoto. We were absolutely starving by this point because lunch was such a failure so we ate at the first non-Japanese place we found. It was “Italian.” It was a pretty funny rendition of Italian food, but at the time, it was the best pizza I’d ever tasted. I was just desperate for something that I could identify and something without soy sauce so it worked out perfectly.
We had another adventure riding the bus around that night, trying to find somewhere to go out to, but we were unsuccessful because it was Sunday and it was late so everything was closed. We ended up just going back to the hotel and going to bed early-ish.