A new chapter of the adventure!
This time with the beautiful district of Arashiyama and the second largest city in Japan: Osaka. I only wished I had more time to visit this two places, specially Arashiyama, I absolutely have to go back someday. So, here's the story:
After the Golden Pavilion, we took a short train ride to Arashiyama, a district designated as a historic site by japanese government for its beauty. There are quite a handful of things to see here, but since we only had half the day we decided not to stress over that and just walk around as much as we could. We went straight to Togetsukyō, a bridge across a wide river filled with cute boats that you can rent for a while. The mountains, the trees, the colors and everything was incredibly beautiful; I can even go ahead and say this is one of the most stunning places I've seen in my life. Even with all the people walking around the place, you can't help but close your eyes for a second, smell the clean air, listen to the water running trough the river and feel at peace with the world.
After lunch, we visited Tenryū-ji, a zen buddhist temple registered as a UNESCO world heritage site. You rid of your shoes at the entrance, and quietly make your way inside this beautifully maintained temple. You can walk around the place feeling the soft tatami mats under your bare or almost bare (I had my socks on) feet and just enjoy the views. I know this is not a palace, but if you've watched The Tale of Princess Kaguya (if you haven't, I recommend you do!), you'll understand why I felt like a princess for a couple of minutes while sitting there just peacefully staring at the garden. By now you might be able to tell I tend to feel like a princess even with the tiniest little outside influence, but mind you, I think it's completely normal adult behavior and you should try it anytime you can.
After walking inside the temple for a bit more, we made our way to the garden, which is an attraction all by itself with beautiful trees, flowers, plants and ponds that you can admire at your own pace as you walk along a stone path. There's an exit at the back of the garden that leads you to the bamboo forest. You can almost hear a different wind blowing through the millions of bamboo stalks surrounding your path, it's almost musical. There's nothing but green everywhere you look around, and the bamboo stalks have grown so tall it is really an impressive view.
After the bamboo forest and walking around the parks and paths of Arashiyama, we decided to call it a day before it got too dark, and to grab some of the area's specialties: takoyaki and yakisoba. Both completely recommended and amazing. I'm hungry now as I write this. Damn.
The next day we decided to make a trip to Osaka, which is about an hour away from Kyoto riding the train. This one was one of the rainiest days of our trip, but it didn't ruin the experience at all even if I got my boots and socks soaked nearing the end of the day (which I REALLY hate).
We first made our way to Osaka Castle, one of Japan's most famous landmarks. This castle has a turbulent past, and after burning down on several occasions throughout history, the 1997 restoration maintains the interior design but transformed it into a wonderful museum that displays very interesting artifacts, including a samurai armor covered with black bear fur. You can't take photos inside the museum, but at the top of the castle you can photograph the city views.
For the other half of the day we visited Dōtonbori, a popular area that combines entertainment, good food and shopping stores. The rain was getting heavier so we walked around this maze of streets looking for a place to take cover and have dinner. My boots were soaking wet but all my pains were gone after having an amazing and hot bowl of ramen. We browsed around the stores and decided to head back to Kyoto as night came. It was a very fun place! You should go hungry because there's a lot of good food options around here.
This trip was the last of our days in the Kansai area, on the next part I'll talk about Mt. Fuji, and lastly, west Tokyo! Hope you have an awesome week!