Arashiyama: The Red Sea

A couples of weeks back I went to Arashiyama for full momiji (autumn leaves) immersion. The whole of Kyoto decided to visit on that day too. Or maybe it just highlighted how crowded Japan is. I blame the mountains. They should keep chopping them down and using them for reclaimed land – that’s how they got the land for Kansai International Airport.


We walked across the bridge with a gorgeous view sweeping upstream of the Oi River, but I was too busy eating already:

Sod the scenery - let's eat!

(It actually wasn’t very satisfying; you can read all food-related trials here.)

We headed straight for Tenryu-Ji, the largest temple in the area and built in very strange circumstances. According to my sometimes faithful Lonely Planet, the temple was built on the former site of Emperor Go-Daigo’s villa after a priest dreamt about a dragon rising from the river. The dream was somehow interpreted as symbolising the Emperor’s uneasy spirit and the temple was constructed to appease it. I’m wondering who doesn’t feel better when they have big fancy buildings dedicated to them?

To be honest though, it wasn’t the temple we went to see; it was the gardens.

We then had lunch. And it messed with my tongue and my head. What’s worse is that we waited over half an hour to be seated for the lunch. At least we found a friendly house, apparently meant to play with your mind:

Mind Games

I also felt right at home at London Books.

Home to Hitler Paraphernalia

Actually that “at home” feeling vanished when the first book I pulled off the shelf turned out to be a manga about Hitler.  He was on every page, looking very angry.

After lunch, we visited the crowning glory of our trip – Okochi Sanso, the villa of an actor in samurai movies. And wow, did he have some taste when it came to garden design. Not only that, but it’s nestled into the hill with a spectacular view of the city. It really gives a sense of how Kyoto, like a lot of Japanese cities, is carved into the flat land between the clusters of mountains. Admire the Red Sea:

Tea under the maple leaves

Author: Phoebe Amoroso

Phoebe Amoroso is a Tokyo-based reporter, multimedia journalist and storyteller. Hailing from the UK, she moved to Japan in 2014 and has since been shouting about the country to all who will listen. She divides her time between covering breaking news and producing feature stories for TV; writing about everything from business and tech to food and travel; and guiding hungry visitors who want to sample the best of Japanese cuisine. When not working and/or eating, she can often be found running up a mountain or cycling by the sea.

3 thoughts on “Arashiyama: The Red Sea”

  1. NIKUMAN!!!!!!! 😀 Always the best during winter!!! Always!!!! I see you and I are the same when it comes to foreign countres… eat first, talk later! 😀

    1. Haha that’s a great motto and I subscribe to it fully! 😀
      Btw very jealous of you being in Tokyo – I miss it! But if you ever wanna visit Kyoto, I’ll happily show you around 🙂
      Please post about Okayama if you get the chance – I’d like to hear about it.

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