Day 5: Kyoto: Arashiyama, Otagi Nenbutsu-Ji

Since we had the rental bikes, we decided to cycle to Arashiyama, as we had read that it was a very nice place to explore on bicycles.

The tip was true and we passed by residences and fields with scare-crows decked out in various unique fashion.

By the time we reached Arashiyama, we were starving. We decided to try the famous cold Yudofu set at Shintogetsu, which is named after the Togetsu-kyo Bridge (just a stalls away from the bridge).

We headed to the famed bamboo grove forests and it was really cooling. It would be fantastic if not for the mozzies who were happy to be fed with fresh tourists! However, it was a fairly short route, so it wasn’t too bad.

We had heard of a really interesting temple called Otagi Nenbutsu-Ji around the area, so we headed to the Information Centre. However, the lady we met outside said “No Information” and we were confused as the flag pole clearly wrote “Information Centre”. We decided to venture in and indeed there was a help desk, but it was unmanned. We looked around, and the same lady spotted us. She came up to us and we said we were looking just for an area map. “No Map!” It was a strange experience and the only Japanese we met who was not too helpful.

Amused, we decided to rely on google maps and intuition and quarter-baked Japanese to find our way there. Finally we reached and this is such an interesting temple. There are 1,200 carved stone figures made by people from various parts of the country for the reconstruction of the temple. And each of these figurines are unique!

We had a very fun time checking out all the expressions and what these stone guys were trying to convey to us. Some were drinking wine, some were super happy, some were meditating, and some were sleeping.

The best unexpected find of this day was actually a very quaint shop which you would pass by between Arashiyama and Otagi Nenbutsu-ji. You will see a very cute showcase of items made out of silk cocoons and just take the steps up and you will see this:

This is one of the happiest guys I have ever met. After we said Hello, he quickly got us to sit down where it was cooler and his wife served us green tea and snacks. He was very excited to learn that we were tourists and started to ask us many questions in quarter bits of English and Japanese. When he learned that we were a young married couple, he seemed truly overjoyed and turned to his wife and said “La-bu, Labu, haha!” , which I guessed meant that we were in love and were lovers. His joy was infectious and his crafts revealed that as well as they were extremely cute, with various animals made from silk cocoons with happy expressions. Needless to say, we were very happy to purchase souvenirs for family and friends and ourselves from him too.

We decided that we shall become happy old folks like them too! And to offer kind hospitality to tired and thirsty voyagers.

Our happy day was not over yet as we returned to Kyoto and came across an eatery that had a super value meal. Free flow of salad and drinks with a main dish. All for just 1000 yen!

The sun began to set and we came across a giant health and beauty outlet. We ventured in but there was nothing much to buy in there. We started wishing there was such a big Daiso (100 yen shop) outlet here and guess what? Daiso was just right next door!

Excited, we started looking around for stuff which we could use for our upcoming hike. Gloves, hats, sunblock, wet tissue, the basket started filling up. We came to the poles section and seriously started contemplating if we should buy some gardening bamboo poles or retractable clothing poles as our stand-in walking sticks since the real ones cost at least 4,000 yen. Eventually we picked 2 poles and were about to make our payment when we realized that Daiso actually sold walking sticks for 100 yen each too. They are seriously the best store in the world.

In the end, here was what we bought from Daiso at 100 yen each, some of which we were going to use them for home. It was a happy day!

Did you meet any interesting locals during your travel?


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