I forgot my notes
Posted by Heliocentrism on April 3, 2015
Saturday, January 3, 2015
Let’s take the bus.
We arrived at Kyoto on the night of the 2nd in the middle of, what seemed to be, a snow storm. Luckily, we live in a boondock town without the modern-day conveniences like salt trucks or snow plows. Everyone in Miyoshi puts snow tires on their cars in December and we had ours on for the trip.
We got to the hostel safely, but it kept snowing the rest of the night. When we woke up the city looked like… Well, you can see for yourself in the photo above.
Rather than spend half an hour shoveling our car out of its parking space and then navigating Kyoto under piles of snow, we chose to use the bus. A day pass for the bus cost 500 JYN and the bus stop was not too far from the hostel. We bought the pass from the reception desk and went on our merry way.
We got to Kyoto station. This was where the tour I had planned would begin. But, when I put my hand into my pocket to get the paper with the lists of things to see, it was not there.
My notes where back at the hostel. In them I had information about the things we should see, when they opened, how much it should cost, and interesting trivia we should think about when looking at the sights. But, now I had none of that with me.
I tried to remember what it was I wanted to see in Kyoto. But, this was a 2 week trip that I had planned months ago. I wanted to see lots of things in many cities. Kyoto didn’t really stand out in my mind.
“I think there was a temple with steps, but we could or should only go there in the morning. Or, maybe there was a garden, but we should make sure to get there before 17:00…”
We looked at a map of the bus route. A few things on it jogged my memory. Like there was definitely a temple I wanted to see, but I couldn’t tell which one from this map.
In every Japanese city there are temples that are important to Japanese tourists because some famous Monk or writer lived there. Non-Japanese (or rather non-Buddhist/ non-Shinto) tourists might not care so much. One temple pretty much looks like another. Unless the temple has a beautiful view of a lake or bamboo forest.
I remember that Gion was a place I wanted to see. So we went there. We walked through the overly crowded streets and tried no to bump into anyone. We found a tiny tempura place to have lunch. What didn’t find were any geishas or maikos; not even someone pretending to be a geisha or maiko.
The Nishiki Market is one of the famous landmarks in Kyoto, but I’m not sure why. Almost every city in Japan has a shopping area that looks just like this. (Miyoshi doesn’t have one, but Miyoshi doesn’t even have a movie theater.)
We wondered around looking at random temples, shrines, and palaces.
Many of the bus stops in downtown Kyoto have free wi-fi. I stood at one, hoping that at some point in time, I emailed my notes to Mark. I didn’t. But I was able to do a google search of things to do in Kyoto and was reminded about Arashiyama.
“We need to go there. That name sounds familiar!”
We walked around some island but found nothing interesting. I couldn’t remember why I wanted to get to this place so badly. We found a train station and walked into a 7-eleven nearby.
I was about to ask the lady at the counter for information on the area, but she beat me to it. She pulled out an English tourist map of the area. She circle the spot where we were now standing.
Then she drew arrows across the bridge. Her arrows led us off the island and near a temple. The temple’s name, Tenryu, looked familiar. The arrows stopped at a trail through a bamboo forest.
“That’s it! The bamboo forest. Oh, and we need to get there before sunset.”
We got there just in time. We took several photos before it got dark.
How to get there:
You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.
Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.
- Emergency Numbers:
- Police 110
- Ambulance and Fire 119
- Important phone numbers to know while in Japan
- Comfort Woman
- The Commoner
- Empire of the Sun
- Flyboys: A True Story of Courage
- Geisha, a Life
- Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II’s Most Dramatic Mission
- The Last Concubine
- Memoirs of a Geisha
- Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath
- Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan
- What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
- Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan. Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
- InternationalATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank to ask whatATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
- ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
- The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
- You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan; I’ve never been a tourist here.)
Kyoto UTANO Youth Hostel
- Coordinates 35°01’37.8″N 135°41’59.1″E
29 Nakayamacho Uzumasa Ukyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan 616-8191
- About 3,400 JYN/ person/ night
- 610 JYN for breakfast
- Check in: 15:00 – 23:00
- Check out: by 10:00
- This was one of the best hostels I have ever stayed in!
- Children and babies are welcomed.
- free parking
- free wi-fi
- free onsen within the hostel
- There is a really nice kitchen you can use.
- all appliances, tableware, and flatware as well as pots and pans are provided.
- You can buy a day pass for the bus at the reception desk.
- 500 JYN
- The bus stop nearest the hostel is called Utano Youth Hostel.
- Coordinates 35°00’13.3″N 135°46’37.6″E
Gionmachi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0001, Japan
- This is the setting for Arthur Golden‘s Memoirs of a Geisha.
- Gion is around Shijo Avenue between Yasaka Shrine in the east and the Kamo River in the west.
- Coordinates 35°00’20.2″N 135°45’56.9″E
Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
- The are many shop in which to spend money
- typically 9:00 to 18:00
- typically closed Wednesday or Sunday
- Coordinates 35°00’59.3″N 135°40’13.4″E
Togetsukyo, Saga, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 616-8383, Japan
- It’s best to visit the bamboo forest when there is at least some light.
- See the Bamboo forest inSagano.
- It’s 100 meters north of Tenryu Temple.