Day 8 - The bamboo groves of Kyoto, feeding the monkeys and arriving in Osaka.
We checked out of our hotel in Kyoto and stored our suitcases in the station lockers. We should have been heading to Osaka but there was an area of Kyoto we were keen to explore still so we got on the train to nearby Arashiyama.
We ate breakfast on the train, this okonomiyaki pastry looked great but looks can be deceiving, it was fairly disappointing.
This cinnamon whirl was a bit nicer though quite dry.
Once in Arashiyama we grabbed some drinks from the vending machine. This fizzy grapefruit drink was really refreshing, great label too!
This looked interesting so I gave it a try. By far the best iced coffee I had tried so far, I felt fully awake after this.
Fish on a skewer, I didn't stop to try one though.
We started off by visiting this incredible temple.
There was a huge pond full of koi carp and amazing gardens surrounding it.
Many tourists chose this mode of transport but we were happy to walk to our next destination, Arashiyama bamboo groves.
The walk through the bamboo groves was breathtaking, it was difficult to capture the sheer volume and beauty of it on camera.
We had read about the Sagano Romantic Train, a sightseeing train line that runs along the Hozugawa River between Arashiyama and Kameoka. We bought a ticket but had half an hour till the next train arrived, we spotted this cafe so decided it was lunchtime.
We tried a dango first, Japanese sweets made out of mochiko, or glutinous rice flour, and water. It was coated with a sweet sticky coating and looked like it was going to be delicious. Sadly this was not the case though, it was a bit like chewing on dough. The sauce made it easier to swallow but my first dango moment was to also be my last.
After the dango disappointment I decided to play it safe with a sausage on a stick. I poured on the ketchup and mustard and thoroughly enjoyed it!
My wife ordered a vegetable rice and I went for two fried rice snacks, both fairly plain but enjoyable.
We shared a beer and my wife decided she would buy some of this chilli powder before leaving Japan.
With a few minutes to spare before the train was due we tried this custard cream desert. It was frozen solid and a nightmare to eat so in the bin it went.
This was much better, a bit like a solero but with a textured fruity layer on the outside.
Everyone waited in an orderly queue on the platform as the Romantic Train pulled in to the station.
The open sided carriage was perfect to see the stunning views along the way, mountains, valleys and rivers. The lady in yellow was busy trying to sell photos to the passengers.
We stopped briefly at this station but this suspect looking bunch didn't board the train.
Once in Kameoka we soon discovered there was nothing much there but fields.
We could have gone back by boat but the rivers we had seen on the train looked quite rough.
We walked to the nearest train station and headed back to Arashiyama, we had read about some monkeys living on a mountain and wanted to visit them.
Before reaching the monkeys we had to cross the Togetsu-kyo bridge. It has been used in many films and a guide book told us to look straight ahead when crossing as looking back can bring bad luck. We nervously crossed the bridge remembering to look straight ahead.
Iwatayama monkey park on Mt Arashiyama is home to 170 Japanese macaque monkeys. We were given this advice leaflet as we entered the park.
In a temperature of 30ºC it was no easy task climbing these steps.
At the top of these steps we spotted some monkeys in the trees, I thought this was as good as it would get.
It felt like we had climbed for a really long time, this sign confirmed that we had!
I was really impressed with the cabin at the top, we were in the cage and the monkeys came to us for food. Apple slices and nuts were for sale, simply offer them in the palm of your hand and the monkeys took them from you.
This refreshing orange drink was much needed on this sweltering day, again another cool label.
Feeding the monkeys was an incredible experience, they clung to the cage the entire time we were there.
We stopped briefly to feed ourselves these, also an amazing experience! These were thick milk chocolate mushroom shapes with a biscuit stalk.
A few others fed the monkeys whilst we were there but the cabin was fairly empty which was a bonus. I don't think it would have felt quite so magical had it been really busy.
From the top of the mountain we looked down across Kyoto, you could see Kyoto tower in the very distance.
Getting down the mountain was much easier and more fun than the journey up.
We stopped briefly by the side of a river for a drink.
A can of Asahi beer was just what we needed in this heat, the man in the shop also gave us some nuts telling us he liked our tattoos.
This photo was taken to remind myself that every car I saw during my time in Japan was kept very clean. This inspired me to wash my van when I returned, I will do it next week for sure.
The same could be said about the trucks I saw too!
The beauty of Kyoto continued down every street we walked.
We decided to take a look around this shrine.
It seemed to be some kind of cemetery. The sun was starting to go down so we started making tracks towards the train station.
This quirky looking cafe caught our eye so we stopped for a drink, our table top lay on top of a mini!
My wife went for a cinnamon tea.
I hadn't had a cola float for a very long time.
We both had thick sliced toast covered in mayonnaise and cheese, amazingly nice!
Our time in Kyoto had come to an end, we collected our suitcases and boarded a bullet train to Osaka.
We shared these on the journey, a bit like poppets.
We checked into Hotel Consort in Osaka. Another well equipped hotel costing just £32 per night for a double room, bargain!
It had a decent view from the window but best of all..
Vending machines less than 30 seconds away down the corridor, very tempting!
The first place we checked out in Osaka was this Pachinko arcade, really noisy and full of men feeding the machines ball bearings. I took my pic and made a hasty exit.
We were looking for somewhere to eat dinner, this sandwich display stopped me in my tracks. Could they really be that neat and tidy when they arrived?
The search for somewhere to eat ended here, Osaka Okonomiyaki!
The staff welcomed us with excitement showing us to a table at the rear, we removed our shoes, sat down and ordered some plum wine. As always best served on the rocks.
The okonomiyaki menu was in English which would make choosing easier, that said though the vast choice available had me scanning that menu for ages.
I wanted one with an egg on top so choose the biggest one on the menu, the Osaka DX.
My wife ordered a dish called Nanashumori, a selection of beef, onion, small green pepper, quail eggs, shrimp, pork and sausage. Some in breadcrumbs and others in tempura batter, all delicious though and served with a teriyaki dip.
Way before arriving in Japan I had a vision of what I thought okonomiyaki would look like, what arrived at the table was exactly what I had been hoping for! This was much bigger and better than the pancake style okonomiyaki I had been served in Kyoto a couple of days ago. The fish flakes on top danced in the heat when it arrived and it sizzled when it was plopped onto the heated plate in the centre of the table. A delicious mix of egg, noodles, squid, pork, beef and octopus coated with mayonaise and a slightly spicy sauce, I loved it!
There was a little bit of uncooked egg white, when you are eating from a sizzling hot plate though this can soon be sorted out.
We ended the meal with an apricot wine on the rocks, nice but not a plum wine beater.
At the 7-11 store we picked up some tea/coffee supplies.
Green tea was on our minds, this green tea kit kat was quite nice but we preferred the original variety.
The green tea galbo mini's with crispy shell and liquid centre were alright but not amazing..
The vending machine down the corridor was calling me so I went to take a look.
I came back with a squidgy sausage and some strange crisps.
Sandwiching the sausage between the crisps seemed like the best plan to me!
Click here for Day 9
Eating my way around Osaka!
Click here for Day 9
Eating my way around Osaka!