Wonka

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DAY 10

(Reading time: 4 minutes)

One of the most beloved destinations for a day trip near Kyoto is the area of Arashiyama. The hilly landscape harbors bamboo groves and centuries-old temples. You can take a boat ride on the Katsura River, pay for a rickshaw ride, take photos from the Togetsukyo Bridge with trees reflecting on the river’s surface, or visit the snow monkeys in the national park on Mount Iwata.

First, we needed to verify our suspicions about the tourist trap in the famous Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. Photos on the internet promise an enchanting walk through narrow pathways lined with tall dense green bamboo. Well, if you raise your camera high enough, you’ll be quite satisfied with the result.

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However, the ground reality is less dreamy. Due to the place’s eminent popularity, continuous crowds of people flow here, and we even witnessed an ambulance rushing in.

Besides the bamboo grove, there’s another “grove” nearby. Granted, of a somewhat different nature, but here too, you can walk through an alley lined with something taller and rounder. Alright, I won’t beat around the bush. The attraction is called Kimono Forest – it’s a collection of Japanese fabrics stored and arranged in vertical cylinders placed around the Keifuku Randen station. 600 two-meter cylinders display around 30 different fabric patterns. Their designer, Yasumichi Morita, had them produced and dyed in a Kyoto factory called Kamedatomi using the traditional method from the Edo period.

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After crossing the Togetsukyo Bridge, we arrived at the foot of the tiny Iwatayama National Park, the home of macaques.

Both visitors and monkeys have the freedom of movement here, but there are certain rules for bipeds: don’t get too close to the monkeys, don’t touch them, avoid eye contact, don’t show them food that isn’t intended for them, and don’t blatantly aim a camera at them. However, the last rule is a problem…

Fortunately, the monkeys are used to human attention and blissfully ignore photographers.

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One sign with instructions also mentioned that monkeys don’t like it when someone throws stones at them… so I just put down those ready-to-go pebbles… seriously…?

Due to the advanced time and the never-ending stream of people, we decided to skip all the temples for this time and head back to Kyoto. And since we hadn’t properly explored it yet, we climbed up the Kyoto Tower to take a bird’s-eye view of the city.

Dinner was a bit of an experiment. We love Asian food anywhere in the world, but it tastes the best in Asia. You don’t want to compare sushi made from tuna caught that morning and from thawed salmon. Kimchi prepared for decades by a Korean grandma vs. store-bought are two different worlds. A dumpling in the Krkonoše Mountains and one from a semi-finished product are heaven and earth in contrast. Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but the point is, we went to an Italian restaurant to see how they handle Western cuisine, or rather spaghetti.

I must admit that they looked as good as they tasted, BUT we got hot green tea with them (okay, you can handle that) and chopsticks, which was a facepalm moment. The concept of noodles = chopsticks in an Italian restaurant, even in Japan, seemed at least funny to us.

A little gem to finish.

Discovery of the day.

Wonka’s semi-sweet heavenly delight really exists! Whether any of them contain a golden ticket…?

-endy-

DONKEY’S SPECIAL:

  • Given the number of visitors in the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, the ambulance fought for every meter, it was a tragicomic sight, people wanted to move out of the way, but there wasn’t much space, the ambulance wanted to pass quickly, but there wasn’t much room…
  • The Edo period, also known as the Tokugawa period, is a period of Japanese history from 1603 to 1867.
  • Unfortunately, we don’t have a photo of the sign prohibiting throwing stones at monkeys, but it can be deduced that it was erected after people started engaging in this pastime.

-mj-

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