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:
(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:
I also felt right at home at London Books.
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: