Hey Mariko..remember that day when we woke up early to get bundled up for our trip to Arashimaya and was greeted with our first few drops of snow?
So happened the night before we said a prayer together to see it (snow) at least once even if it's a few drops before we leave Japan. It was a beautiful sight to see them fall from the sky and melt as it touches the pavements while we camped in the nearest kombini to keep warm, totally didn't see this coming but i'm glad i've decided to dress you with an extra layer of thick winter clothing compared to your usual.
Also was the day i learnt that you didn't like trains because you would immediately wake up and put up a sad face threatening to wail any minute but stop the minute we disembark. It's cute but i never got to know why it always made you upset to be in one but you seem to have no problem with planes. And guess i'll never find out from this cheeky lil girl, but you do owe me an explanation one day when we meet again.
Today was pretty much back to nature day for us, away from the city just some quiet walks and enjoying the breathtaking scenery while mother nature does her work with the snow
This adorable randen tram will take you directly to Arashimaya (last stop) and costs 230¥ one way so that's about 460¥ both ways.
About 15 minutes ride from Shijo Omiya to Arashimaya
I know i am really blur with directions like my north, south, east and west even though on the map it's clearly stated there but i can still end up walking in circles missing the destination point, spent like 15 minutes crossing the main road to and fro to realized i was in the correct part of the road to begin with and didn't have to do like what i did to find t just that i didn't expect the train station to look like an ordinary building (my image of trains are with visible railways) which is the Keifuku Randen Tram Line. And when i look at the huge signboard above the station entrance it made me face palm because it was quite big and obvious but i missed it because i was too busy looking down at the map, lesson learnt observe surroundings first before crossing the road like a headless chicken lel.
Travel Tip: If you are into cute memorable souvenirs, make sure to keep an eye out for gasaphon machines all around Kyoto that carries designs that symbolizes Kyoto in general (eg: randen/ geisha/etc) usually found near tourist areas like how i found one carrying various randen designs outside Keifuku randen tram line and another one along the road from the train station leading to Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社).
Welcome to Togetsu-Kyo (full moon bridge) and the best time to photograph this bridge against the mountain is during the peak of autumn (when all the trees are red, yellow & orange) or peak of winter when the mountain trees are coated with snow making it look like a mysterious winter wonderland.
To be honest regardless of what season, the scenery will still look breathtaking with the various changes so whenever people ask "what's the best season" to visit Kyoto, it's pretty preference based like how i love it during Autumn while some love it in spring.
Not knowing on how and where we were going to spend our 3rd day here in Kyoto actually so this plan to visit Arashimaya was rather impromptu but i was trusting our Omotenashi Travel Guide to lead us as it had done for our 2nd day itinerary which was rather fruitful as mentioned in the previous blog post.
I know sometimes pictures alone don't do mother nature justice but we did try our best to absorb the scenery with our memory which didn't last for more than 10 seconds for me (Not sure about Mariko since she seems so fascinated with her surroundings, i assume she's enjoying the scenery as well) since my memory isn't how it used to be and kinda think it came out together with the baby, placenta and blood, so a moment of silence for the loss of my memory's ability.
Apparently it's common to be fuzzy when it comes to memory section for mothers who have just given birth, it's called "baby brain" lel.
Our promise to go beyond the snowy mountains someday and i will bring you there Mariko
One of the most funniest moments we had together was fuzzy brained me took the wrong direction upon exiting Arashimaya station as i was so "confident" that i studied the map in the guide book while in the tram but ended up in the opposite direction of our initial destination (supposed to head to the bamboo forest) and only found out AFTER we have crossed the Togetsu-Kyo lel, bet Mariko was thinking "stupid mama" for having no sense of direction since we left our room.
But thank you to the kind lady in the Kyoto Music Box Museum for allowing us to warm ourselves first and the mini tour viewing the amazing handcrafted musical box collection while she explained on how we can redeem an exclusive silver brooch from their store if we managed to visit certain spots within Arashimaya town and collect the stamps. It's a cute simple activity for tourists, you can get the form from the music box museum and also redeem the gift there once you have completed it. Would have done this mini quest if it wasn't so cold and with a baby, it seems fun because it allows you to properly explore the area and in return you'll get a reward.
We are finally in the right direction!
Part of the Golden Itinerary as suggested by the Omotenashi travel guide, i did skip a couple of places to accommodate with our comfort levels as squeezing too many locations in a day is rather exhausting for the both of us, initially we were supposed to visit Kinkakuji Temple before heading to Arashimaya but instead went straight to visit the famous tranquil bamboo forest (chikurin no michi).
Am glad we arrived here about 9am in the morning (best time is always the earliest) so there wasn't much people around yet and managed to take some nice shots of the bamboo forest without random strangers photobombing it, another place ticked off our bucket list in Kyoto for us, there are still many more place to visit but we are saving that for other times or else we'll get too bored the next time we come here again. It's said the bamboos are at it's greenest peak during Autumn, but looking from the photos during early January when there was a heavy snow fall the whole forest looks like a fairy tale! Do hope one day we'll get to experience that together, but winter season is quite brutal indeed like what the locals always say that's why you'll get quite a number of Japanese people staying in Malaysia during winter to escape it.
No doubt it's a beautiful season with snow and all but gotta admire the dedication of some photographers who brave the heavy snow just to capture these amazing shots. If it was me i would just stay home inside where it's warm and cozy and enjoy the view from my window instead.
Traveler Tip: To get really nice uninterrupted photos of the bamboo forest, try to reach by 7-8am, during end of the year seasons like Autumn & Winter the sun rises around 6.30am onwards but sets by 6pm (super dark), so you can get an early head start.
There's actually more to see around the area like temples and shrines nearby the forest, but that's if you have time to leisurely stroll around. I didn't do so as i had to rush off to find a place to feed Mariko after spending an hour here.
On the way back to Arashimaya station as we are heading for our brunch (boobie time for Mariko), we came across this cute little towel shop that sells babies clothes and customized embroidered hand towels so i couldn't help but to step into the shop to have a look around. They have so many towels neatly folded on the shelves in various sizes and designs, that it took me quite some time to decided which should i get for Mariko since she's always dirtying towels so frequently with her drool and puke lol, one thing i learn from her is babies can never have too many face towels (take into consideration of accidentally dropping it as well).
This trip alone since the day we landed at the airport i bought Mariko 1 handkerchief a day and now i have a total of 4 cute new handkerchiefs that she'll never be able to use.
Though it's not exactly cheap if you are on budget shopping but for the design, quality they offer and anything for my Mariko i wouldn't mind paying abit more for it as long it's of use and it makes both of us happy :)
It makes a very good customizable souvenir to bring home too, since the shop offers free name embroidery whether you want them in alphabets/ hiragana/ katakana. You won't miss this shop because it's super colorful from the outside, you'll definitely pass it if you are walking from the bamboo groove all the way back to Arashimaya station.
Happiest loot for Mariko💓
It has cat butt prints all over it!
My favorite part of today's route was that it brought us back to Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社) after close to 2 years and this time with a blessing which was Mariko, though by the time we reached the foot of the temple was kinda on the 50-50 scale on whether we should climb up the steps or not since i was feeling rather lazy already after Arashimaya but heck since we were here why not go abit more to give thanks at the shrine and enjoy the view and to my surprise the amount parents with babies we bumped along the way exchanging "your baby is so cute" comments before going on our merry way lol
Towards mid noon (3.30-4pm-ish) the weather was rather pleasant for short hike so we made it halfway up to catch the full view of Kyoto.
Coming back here just brings back memories both good and bad and bringing lil parasite to Japan was hoping to create new beautiful ones with my daughter, the start and many more to come.
The view you get of Kyoto from making it up halfway to the Yotsu-tusji (Intersection), give yourself a pat on the back for making it this far :)
And don't for get to insert the dramatic Lion King music when Mufasa tells Simba that everything the light touches is their kingdom scene lol.
I always believe in folklore as they are created for a reason, to scare children or to educate generations whatever their reason might be it's something i took interest in as a kid. Naturally coming to places like this feels like my natural habitat, it does calm the mind as you make your way up. It's believe that the senbon torii leads to the realm of Gods, though over the years as it's flocked by tourists not many know the history of this place but visit it because it's listed as Kyoto's top "must see" places and you have not seen Kyoto if you did not come here lol. Guess that's what tourism is about, some come for a cultural experience while some come for fun but at the end of the day everyone is here to create memories of their own.
For those of you who have yet to visit Fushimi Inari Taisha or complete the trail, there's a few stops along the way recommended for photo taking especially Yotsu-tusji (Intersection). Some people would just stop here before before heading back down but those who are much more adventurous (and good stamina) would hike all the way to the top but during winter the higher you get the air gets rather thin and dry but during autumn the temperature is just nice plus you'll get to photograph this entire torri gate trail with its prestigious autumn foliage surrounding it.
We didn't go all the way up because it's about time for us to head home, like i've said before from the start of this post is that the sun sets early during winter, we gotta be back at the foot of the shrine before 5pm. Think i gained extra leg muscles that day carrying Mariko around, she's about 5.5kg and 67cm tall (head to feet) so it felt like when i was still carrying her in my womb with the placenta and fluids but she seems so comfortable and snugly being carried close to my chest all day and it's rather therapeutic for the both of us.
At least lil parasite caught a glimpse of Kyoto's beauty whereas there are many who wait close to half a century of their life to even travel.
When the sunset rays hits the tori gates, announcing it's final illumination of the day before night befalls and wild beasts roams the grounds (mountain cats & wild boars) and who knows you might be 'whisked' away into another realm.
That's indeed a good sign to get the heck down as soon as possible lol because it's dangerous in the dark.
Told Mariko that we have to make it down because mama was tired but promised to bring her back up again when she's able to walk so we can climb the steps together all the way to the top to pray and she gave me this smile. It's precious and i am glad to live in this era where our phones and digital cameras can capture every single moment. As promised, i WILL bring her back and to the top the next time i visit Kyoto again.
Looking back at this zenzai i ordered reminded me of when i took her out to breastfeed at the shop which had individual heaters and there was one next to me so we sat very close it, you should have seen how happy she was smiling and gurgling all the way before demanding oppai + made a huge poop bomb which i had to clean her up at the seating area because this old shop didn't have a baby friendly toilet compared to modern buildings. Rest assured that most parts of Japan is baby friendly except for the older wooden shop houses.
Forgot to mention that while you are visiting this ares make sure to try out their foods around the area! Here's some of the shops listed in the guide and located within 5 minute walking radius heading towards Fushimi Inari Taisha.
- Inafuku- a trip to Fushimi Inari Taisha is not complete without having inari sushi!
- Hinoya - Built in 1961, offers homemade mackerel and grilled sparrow yakitori
- So-honke Inariya- Sells fox face (kitsune) shaped senbei crackers made from white miso and sesame