We spent out third and final day covering the Arashiyama-Sagano area. After a rather long day two, we preferred to keep it simple the next day. Although we had fewer places to cover, there was a reasonable amount of walking to be done. To get to Arashiyama, we took the JR Sagano line, from Kyoto Station to JR Saga-Arashiyama Station. It’s a 20 minute journey. Alternatively, you can take a bus from the depot, outside Kyoto Station.
From Saga-Arashiyama station, it takes about 10 minutes to reach Tenryu-ji temple. The walk to the temple is scenic – with empty streets for company.
Flaring red autumn leaves mark the outer confines of Tenryu-ji. When you see red, you know, you’ve reached Japan’s foremost Zen Buddhist temple and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Step inside and you’d understand what ‘Alice’ might have felt in wonderland. A large pond teeming with Koi fish, trees that look like they’ve been set ablaze, patches of pale blue sky, and a temple aligned with principles of minimalism, are all key elements of this wonderland. Pathways lead you from the main temple to a higher vantage point, eventually bringing you back to where you started.
Conceptualised by Muso Soseki, Tenryu-ji was built to appease Emperor, Go Daigo’s spirit. Tenryu-ji literally translates as ‘Dragon of the Sky’. The main temple forms a stunning backdrop against the clear blue skies. Surrounding it, is a pond, with neatly raked white sand (characteristic feature of most Zen Buddhist Temples) and a picturesque Japanese garden. If you haven’t much to do, take a while, to soak in the beauty around.
Admission Fee: 600 JPY ; Timings: 8:30 am – 5:30 pm ( 5 pm between the last week of October and March)
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
A small exit gate, from Tenryu-ji gardens, leads you to the Arashiyama Bamboo Groves. By the time we reached the groves, there were hordes of tourists walking through. The temperature dropped drastically and it’s quite understandable, as the bamboo blocks most of the sunlight. It will be difficult to take photographs here as there will be a lot many tourists coming in your frame. We stepped out of the grove and into a general lunch area, facing a tranquil lake. There are many more temples to visit, but we skipped them, and opted to walk around, discovering quaint Kyoto. By evening, we head back to the station.
Kyoto station is a sharp contrast to the Kyoto of temples and Japanese gardens. It’s modern and offers a stunning view of the city from its main observation deck. Once again, if you look at all the lights, you’d find it hard to believe the sights you’d see during the day. A giant Christmas Tree adorned one of the higher levels. We called it a night. We wished we could stay longer, but it was time to head to Tokyo, the next day.