For anyone who might be reading and wondering what I’ve been up to in Kyoto, the answer is simple: not much! So, despite combining the two days into one post, this will be kept short.
After talking to Lawrence, I decided that I really should try to rest my knees, and I have been trying my best to not push them hard. I have mostly been wandering through streets and shops, browsing and shopping and picking up food and drinks along the way. I haven’t even done much sightseeing because it is tourist high season in Kyoto right now, and the crowds are massive and I can’t be bothered with the packed buses that make up the bulk of Kyoto’s public transportation system. I stick to anywhere I can get to by subway or bus or on foot.
Today (April 23), I did actually take the train to Arashiyama to visit Togetsukyo Bridge and the Iwatayama Monkey Park. On my first trip to Japan, my sister and I had decided to see more temples (Adashino Nenbutsuji and Oyagi Nenbutsuji) after finishing Tenryuji and the bamboo forest rather than the bridge and monkey park. I had meant to visit them on my second trip to Japan, but the day I wanted to go, it had poured rain all day, so I used the day to go souvenir shopping instead.
I didn’t know when I would next be in Japan, so I figured I would use my last full day in Kyoto to (finally) see some monkeys!
I went directly to the Togetsukyo Bridge from the train station, bypassing Tenryuji and the bamboo forest. I had seen them already and didn’t think it was worth fighting the crowds to revisit them. The bridge was busy, too, but the river and the surrounding mountains were quite beautiful, especially on such a nice day. It was sunny with a bright blue sky, but with a nice breeze that countered the heat of the sun well.
When I found the entrance to the monkey park, I found out that it was about a 20 minute uphill climb to an elevation of about 160m. I was glad I had worn my trail runners and not my new flats that killed my feet yesterday while trying to break them in.
The trail started with a long flight of stairs – a bit steep and got my a little out of breath by the end of it, but certainly not the worst I’ve faced. From there, the trail became quite a bit easier and I practically skipped up the rest of the way. Looking at online comments about it is interesting. Most people comment on the hike’s difficulty. I guess just a few days of rest wasn’t enough to completely decondition my body. I was glad.
The monkeys were certainly fun to watch. There are strict rules in place to protect visitors as the monkeys, while used to human contact, are still wild. For example, you cannot stare them in the eye because they will take this as a challenge/threat. You also can’t touch them (obviously) or show them food because they will take it. You can go into the little visitor hut and purchase a small baggie of food for ¥50 and feed the monkeys from behind the wired cage.
The monkey park also affords a wonderful view of Kyoto with the mountains serving as a beautiful backdrop and frame. It’s quite scenic.
After finishing up there, I made my way down and was happy that my knees barely complained at all. The rest days must have done them good.
I returned to town and did some more shopping, namely a new purse to replace my fraying, worn-out one that looked ready to split open any day now. It had put up with a lot during my trip, but I guess it was time for it to retire.
I brought my purchases back to the hostel, organized my things, threw out my old purse with a touch of sadness, and then played cards with Lawrence and two other guests staying at the hostel until bedtime.
Tomorrow, I move on to Osaka!
My name is Marianne and this is my journal about that time I decided to complete the 88 Temple Shikoku Pilgrimage. It was both the most difficult thing I've ever done and the most amazing thing I've ever done. It was truly an experience of a lifetime.