Arashiyama bamboo grove

Arashiyama bamboo grove

The rain stopped last night, and the weather was much improved for wandering through temples. We took the train to Arashiyama and the foot of the mountains west of Kyoto. Ate a delicious lunch overlooking the Togetsuky┼Ź bridge, and then walked up through the beautiful bamboo grove. I guess the paved trail through the grove is technically a road, because we saw taxis driving through it. Didn’t diminish the Crouching Tiger feeling of the place, with bamboo swaying gently in the breeze.

Okochi-sanso villa

Okochi-sanso villa

At the top of the grove, we entered the Okochi Sanso villa, the former home of a silent samurai film star, and now a beautifully manicured garden that shows off views of the mountains and city below. It was snowing lightly, which delighted Ruth and made it all the more scenic.

With the light fading, we took the train and a bus to the Kinkaku-ji (Temple of the Golden Pavillion). This is one of the more famous sights of Japan, and it had the crowds to go along with it. But it was lit perfectly in the afternoon light, and was a must-see according to both the book and John who had come here before. I had fun finding less crowded views of the temple and grounds to photograph, including the absolutely huge koi.

Huge koi

Huge koi



For New Year’s evening we walked to the Kiyomizu-dera temple to hear them ring the big bell 108 times. It’s a beautiful complex of temples, and was full of folks celebrating the occasion. We found a quiet corner under the stars, and I pulled out the ring I’d been carrying all day to ask Ruth to marry me. We’ve been trying to learn one or two Japanese phrases each day, so I used the occasion to learn “kekon shi masen ka”. She was gracious enough to say yes, and we returned to our hostel to call parents and toast Hakushu whisky, happy as gai.

New Years Eve

New Years Eve