My third day in Kyoto was just as magical as the second. Again, I began bright early, walking about 15 minutes to the train station to catch a direct train to Arashiayama.

As you might have caught on from the first instalment of this series, I did a lot of walking in Kyoto and Japan, in general.

Higashiyama Ward Kyoto

In Kyoto, I was especially conscious about taking public buses because I had read about them being overcrowded with tourists to the point where locals were inconvenienced.

Therefore, despite a bus station only a minute’s walk from the hotel, I chose to walk further to catch trains or directly to my destination.

In any case, starting my days early meant that I could catch buses outside peak hours, but I enjoy walking, so I did just that.

Day 3 in Kyoto: Arashiyama

I rode the Hankyu Line to Hankyu-Arashiyama station and the first sight that greeted me as I made my way towards the famous bamboo grove was that of Togetsu-kyo Bridge, against a backdrop of Mt. Arashi and a forest of colourful autumn leaves.

After a few minutes, I arrived at Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and joined the handful of visitors who had the same idea as I did to visit early.

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Grove Kyoto

Sagano Bamboo Forest (aka Arashiyama Bamboo Grove)

In the calm of the morning, walking the short path lined with rows of towering bamboo trees was a pleasant experience. I lingered around for a while, listening to the rustling of leaves and the creaky sounds of the trees swaying gently in the wind.

Later, I walked further down the road from the bamboo grove towards my next destination, the Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple. But first, I couldn’t help but stop to admire the beautiful Atago Torii Gate.

Beautiful Torii Gate in Kyoto

Atago Torii Gate

The famous Atago Torii Gate is considered the first marker for the Atago Shrine. It stands at an intersection at the end of the Sagano sightseeing trail, and the beginning of the hiking route to Mt. Atago.

Beside the gate were two notable buildings with thatched roofs. I simply admired the traditional architecture and beautiful moss-covered roofs at the time.

However, I would later find out that these are centuries-old teahouses that provide respite and refreshment for pilgrims and hikers heading to the mountain and the shrine.

The stop here allowed me to pass the time until opening hours for the Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple.

Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple

This is a quaint Buddhist temple, renowned for its collection of over 1,200 whimsical statues, representing the disciples of Buddha. I paid the entrance fee and proceeded to explore the temple grounds.

Due to its size, I expected to spend only a few minutes wandering about the grounds but I was surprised when I looked at the time and saw I had been there nearly an hour!

By the time I was done with my promenade, it was the opening hour for Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple. I traced my way back and arrived shortly after the gates opened to welcome the day’s visitors.

Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple

Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple

Like Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple, Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple also features thousands of stone statues. But here, the statues are dedicated to honouring the souls of the deceased, with some dating back to the Heian period.

Though the grounds were interesting to explore, it was the temple’s tranquil bamboo forest that I came to see. A refreshing change from the crowd one can expect at the Sagano Bamboo Grove during peak hours, the bamboo-lined path here was peacefully empty and oh-so-beautiful!

Bamboo Forest empty Kyoto

Next, it was time for lunch. I caught a bus to the main street, which was overflowing with visitors by this time. And for the first time during my stay in Japan, I could comprehend the sentiments regarding mass tourism in Kyoto.

I ducked into the first restaurant I could find and luckily, it was a good one and served one of the best meals I had in Japan.

Japanese lunch meal set

After lunch, I made my way over to the banks of the Katsura River and might I say, it was quite surprising, pleasantly so, to see this place so sparsely populated considering the sheer number of people I had seen earlier on the main road!

Katsuragawa River

Here, I was lucky to catch an interesting display of cultural activities celebrating the Fall Season. I found a spot along the bank and observed the presentations for a while, as well as the people enjoying boat rides across the river. I thought this was a splendid way to wrap up my outing to Arashiyama.

Katsuragawa River in Kyoto
Katsuragawa River Autumn Colours

I returned to Gion, stopping briefly to walk through the “Kimono Forest” at the train station, then through Ninesaka and Sanezaka streets before heading back to my room for a well-earned afternoon nap.

In the evening, I strolled through the narrow streets of Pontocho Alley where I crossed paths with a Geisha heading off to an appointment.

Pontocho Alley

While planning my trip to Kyoto, I told myself I wasn’t going to go looking for Geishas or Maikos – I simply wasn’t interested in doing so and did not want to be a nuisance but for some reason, I was star-struck in Pontocho Alley!

Maikoya Tea Ceremony Kyoto
not a Geisha/MaikoI kept my phone away during my encounter in Pontocho Alley

Overwhelmed, and perhaps slightly intimidated by the restaurant choices in this area, I kept on walking until I found myself on Kawaramachi shopping street. I found a good ramen place for dinner, then popped into the Uniqlo store across the road to get some extra clothing layers.

And with that, I wrapped up my third day in Kyoto, and what a fantastic day it was! On day 4, I visited Nara, Fushimi Inari Shrine and Nikishi Food Market.

I’ll write about these places in the next and final part of this series. I hope you stick around! 🙂

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