Our plan today was to visit the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove using the Randen Tram line in the morning. In the afternoon we were going to explore the old town area Higashiyama some more.

We wanted today to be more relaxed. We’d had a later one last night exploring and had been running around pretty much non-stop. Today was all about slowing it down.

Breakfast at Smart Coffee

We spotted Smart Coffee when we were wandering the Shotengai around our hotel and had seen people queuing to get in. We’d made a mental note to try it out, and what’s more relaxing than a luxurious breakfast?

After a short queue we were shown to our seats and this place was fancy 🧐.

Myself and my boys had Iced coffee’s with my wife going for tea. We ordered Hot Cakes1 and French toast both served with a generous cup of maple syrup.

My son in front of a plate of large thick french toast

A plate of “hot cake” pancakes with  tiny jug of maple syrup on the side

The service and presentation at this place was high class. The only thing I could really compare it to in the UK would be Betty’s Tea Rooms

I was looking at what other tables had ordered, and their egg sandwiches and purin2 also looked world class.

Keifuku Randen Trams

The view down the tracks of a Kyoto tram coming into a station

With full bellies, we found where we needed to get the tram, and the journey was a delight! There’s a whole sub genre of video games in Japan that are videos of train journeys where you can ‘drive’ the train, and I can see why3. It’s a fascinating look at the landscape from a different perspective seeing what the driver sees.

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

The bamboo Forest walkway

Arashiyama station area is dare I say it a little bit touristy, but very pleasant and the walk to the Bamboo grove is well signposted. Once you’re in the grove itself, the atmosphere is breathtaking. As well as the sheer scale and size of the bamboo, the noise it makes and how it moves when the wind hits it is just as amazing. Take a look πŸ‘‡

A view into the bamboo forest

Me posing by the bamboo forest

A view upwards to the bamboo forest

Another view of the bamboo forest walkway

Me and my family doing a selfie in front of the bamboo

There are also shrines to look at, and they were selling Ema you could write a prayer or wish on. Alongside the wishes for long life and to find love, we had to chuckle at one that said “I hope we don’t kill each other on this holiday!” 🀣. Little racks with layers and layers of peoples hopes and dreams in a physical form.

The entrance to the bamboo forest shrine. Red small fences and small covered areas

A view of the ema’s hung on their racks. Layers and layers of wishes

A small shrine with fox statues on a stone

We finished our wander of the forest and explored the area around it afterwards. We were going to walk to an observation point that apparently had great views but Apple Maps tried to direct us via cemetery so we turned around.

My sons photo’d in the middle of the bamboo

Me and my wife posing in the middle of the bamboo

A view of the railway in the middle of the crossing as it stretches into the distance

A view on the side of the train tracks showing a bridge in the distance

As we turned around we saw a car was going to try and take the same route! An old lady tending to the graves moved at great speed to stand in front of the car with her arms crossed πŸ™…β€β™€οΈ until they turned around. I bet with smartphones and route planning this sadly must happen to her all the time πŸ€¦β€β™‚οΈ

When we got back into the town, I had a matcha and tofu ice cream that was deliciously creamy with a strong matcha punch.

Me holding my tofu matcha ice cream

Back at the train station, we saw on a sign that apparently the station has a foot spa! We couldn’t miss out on that. The Spa cost less than Β₯200 per person and you got an amazingly cute towel that you can keep as a souvenir.

Higashiyama District

A shrine at the end of a street walking into the old town

Our feet refreshed, we travelled to Higashiyama. The old district of Kyoto. Lots of this area has protected status against development therefore it’s incredibly picturesque and beautiful.

An old street in Kyoto An old street in Kyoto with a taxi manoeuvring the old streets

Our first stop was a famous picture spot to snap a photo of the Yasaka Pagoda,and then we wandered the streets looking at the stores.

A time lapse of the pagoda temple

Me posing in front of the pagoda temple

My wife had heard of a store marked with Three Umbrellas outside where an artist sold traditional hand created art and wanted to pop in and get something. She had a conversation with him, and once he knew we were from the UK he excitedly opened up a book of his artwork.

It turns out he has family that moved to Bristol in the UK and showed us the artwork he’d drawn of his time there! My wife excitedly said that she’d been to Bristol as well. He showed a painting he’d done of his bed in the UK as well. Possibly as this is different than the Japanese style of bed he was used to.

Artwork secured, we moved towards food and found Kirakuan, which is apprently a bit of a popular instagram food due to the way they stack the chicken in a cup?! We had no idea before we went, and were simply lead by our noses. I bought some of the fried chicken as well as a meat and potato croquette. Both of which were absolutely delicious. I would go so far as to say this was the nicest and juiciest fried chicken I have ever had.

Me holding the stack of fried chicken in a cup

The fried potato cutlet

We tried to go for Kakigori4 but by mid afternoon it was so busy it was basically impossible to get a seat. We found a smaller place doing a simpler fruit shaved ice than the traditional style with red bean and other toppings but it was still delicious.

A view down the steps of old Kyoto

We walked up the hill to Kiyomizu-Dera Temple and took some photos of the entrance, but it was so busy we decided not to go inside.

Entrance to the temple at the top of the hill

We walked back down the hill, by this time the crowds were filling the entire streets so we beat a hasty exit back to our hotel to rest our feet, and then went back to Kura for a conveyor belt sushi dinner.

A very busy old town street. The old buildings giving wat to the more modern city in the distance

A quick wander around the local neighbourhood and shopping streets, we called it a day before our trip tomorrow to another new city. Osaka!

A view down the sushi conveyor

A dark Kyoto alley with the neon of a store lighting yellow into the blues of the night

  1. They are actually different than pancakes! Thicker and quite dense. ↩︎

  2. What we’d call Creme Caramel ↩︎

  3. I’m more of a truck guy myself 😜 ↩︎

  4. Japanese shaved ice with a fruit/condensed milk topping ↩︎