Hanatouro: Flower and light road

On Thursday James and I caught a bullet train (shinkansen) to Kyoto, a city about forty kilometres from where we are staying in Osaka. The bullet train was really fast, and it only took about fifteen minutes. We are getting used to the transportation in Japan: there is the bullet train, as well as the railway, and the subway; so there are essentially three different networks. It is a little crazy to get your head around at first, because major stations have at least two of the three.

Bullet train snacks: Chocolate with chewy bits inside.
Bullet train snacks: Chocolate with chewy bits inside.

Bullet train on the platform
Bullet train on the platform

Next bullet trains...
Next bullet trains…
We bought waffles for breakfast.
We bought waffles for breakfast.
James’s chocolate waffle
James’s chocolate waffle

Kyoto was a lovely getaway from the local scene in Osaka. It was very scenic and traditional, with lots of mountains, the Katsura River and a bamboo forest. We came at about the right time this year for Hanatoro (which translates to “flower and light road”), an illumination event where lanterns line the sides of the streets at night.

We were lucky it was quite a sunny day yesterday. After catching the bullet train, we caught a (regular) train from Kyoto to Arashiyama, a touristy area in the outskirts of Kyoto. I was quite sure I saw some falling snow, because I was positive it wasn’t rain and I could see the way it fell was quite soft, and they looked white in colour.

Walking from Saga-Arashiyama Station
Walking from Saga-Arashiyama Station
A little store in town
A little store in town
James walking down the road
James walking down the road
Entering Tenryuji temple
Entering Tenryuji temple

We walked through the Tenryuji temple, which was small but very nice. Instead of grass, moss lined the surrounding gardens of the paths. The exit of the temple led to the bamboo forest. It was only early afternoon at this time but the lanterns at the side of the path invited us to come back at night. After walking around some stone steps and paths, we came down to a point by the Katsura River. It was very cold, although I was wearing two layers of stockings and two sweaters again. I felt the cold mostly in my fingertips. I wore handwarmers, because I prefer those to gloves, so my fingers can still move around and hold things.

Tickets to enter the temple
Tickets to enter the temple
A beautiful lake with koi fish
A beautiful lake with koi fish
One of the signs inside
One of the signs inside
A pathway partially lit by sunlight
A pathway partially lit by sunlight
Some pretty roses amongst the green
Some pretty roses amongst the green
Moss covered the gardens everywhere
Moss covered the gardens everywhere
A fork in the path
A fork in the path
Shredded umbrella plant
Shredded umbrella plant
A part of the path not touched by sunlight
A part of the path not touched by sunlight
Down a set of stairs
Down a set of stairs
Moss growing on a wooden rail
Moss growing on a wooden rail
Pathway to the exit
Pathway to the exit
Map of the temple area and surrounds
Map of the temple area and surrounds
Me in the Tenryuji temple gardens
Me in the Tenryuji temple gardens
People walking through the bamboo forest
People walking through the bamboo forest
Another view of the bamboo forest
Another view of the bamboo forest
Up into the trees
Up into the trees
James in the bamboo forest
James in the bamboo forest
Sunlight peeks through the canopy
Sunlight peeks through the canopy
An area high up by the river
An area high up by the river
Closer down near the riverbank
Closer down near the riverbank

It was about 5ºC (41ºF). This is where the vending machines come in handy. You can buy a hot drink and it doubles as a drink and a handwarmer for just 100-120¥. Hahahaha.

Vending machine with both hot and cold drinks
Vending machine with both hot and cold drinks
I got some canned hot cafelatte...
I got some canned hot cafelatte…

We thought about hiring a bicycle for the day, but decided against it because it would be more enjoyable to walk, and half the time, you can’t ride your bicycle in some places. Instead, we hired a boat for an hour and rowed upstream along the Katsura River. I tried to row, but I obviously sucked, so James did all the rowing before we let the current take us back down. It was a lovely view and there were some cute ducks and birds along the way.

Katsura river
Katsura river
Fat little duck on the water
Fat little duck on the water
More ducks along the river
More ducks along the river
The view behind us as we floated upstream
The view behind us as we floated upstream
So many rocks and submerged rocks!
So many rocks and submerged rocks!
Me trying to row. I sucked
Me trying to row. I sucked
James has good pecs (apparently, ha ha)
James has good pecs (apparently, ha ha)
Letting the current take us downstream to the Togetsukyo Bridge
Letting the current take us downstream to the Togetsukyo Bridge

The sun sets really early in Japan, usually before 5:00pm. When it started to get dark, we went to one of the street stalls and had some takoyaki. As we walked around we were asked by a representative to do a quick survey about Hanatoro. She gave us some seedlings as a gift. When we finished the survey she pointed out that the lights had just turned on. It was incredible.

James getting takoyaki (octopus balls)
James getting takoyaki (octopus balls)
Takoyaki!
Takoyaki!
Some buildings by the water
Some buildings by the water
Small bridge near Nakanoshima Park, near the river
Small bridge near Nakanoshima Park, near the river
Hanatouro begins as the lanterns turn on
Hanatouro begins as the lanterns turn on
A lantern with a flower pattern
A lantern with a flower pattern
More lanterns in the park
More lanterns in the park
Some pretty lighting with an artificial flower
Some pretty lighting with an artificial flower
We wrote well wishing notes and stuck them to the cylindrical lamps
We wrote well wishing notes and stuck them to the cylindrical lamps
My note of “love and light”
My note of “love and light”
My note and James’s note next to each other
My note and James’s note next to each other
Many cylindrical lamps
Many cylindrical lamps

We spent the rest of the evening walking back to the main train station by following the lanterns down the paths. We made sure we walked through the bamboo forest again.

Light sculpture
Light sculpture
Making our way back through the town to the bamboo forest
Making our way back through the town to the bamboo forest
Nearly there! Looks like there are many people.
Nearly there! Looks like there are many people.
Finally in the bamboo forest!
Finally in the bamboo forest!
They look green and purple.
They look green and purple.
People taking lots of photos on their phones
People taking lots of photos on their phones
Scarecrow friend?
Scarecrow friend?

We were looking for something to eat on the way back home, but we hilariously decided to get McDonald’s. I spotted an ebi burger, which translates to “prawn burger”, and decided to get one of those with a grape Fanta.

Earlier in the day James pointed out that the food in Japan is not too sweet, not too salty… and tastes just great. In fact, I believe that the prawn burger was one of the best pieces of fast food I have tasted. Usually, I have my soda/carbonated drinks diluted with a lot of water because they are too sweet, too, but the grape Fanta was actually quite nice the way it was.

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It’s so cool how you’re on a trip in Japan with James! Hope you’re enjoying it so far~

The bullet train snacks look so cute! We really need some bullet trains installed here in LA. The chocolate waffle looks delicious. I like how the community feels really welcoming and such. Everything looks family-owned.

The temple looks gorgeous and naturey. It’s a plus since you got to row on the boat as well. The night lanterns are amazing! It’s cute how you and James wrote greetings from Australia. I’m more tripped out about the leaf under yours.. That looks like Spanish

Have fun with the rest of your trip!

Just last month, here in Singapore we had an Ebi Burger special. My brother was all over them; I wasn’t though, because I’m not really into eating prawn /um

The last few photos of the bamboo forest… those green and purple lighting effects… oh my word 😍

Sounds like you are having a fantastic time in Japan. Gorgeous pictures, I’m so serious. My favorites are the ones in twilight and after the sunset.

Hey Georgie,
Those pictures are so beautiful! Japan looks absolutely gorgeous!
I would love to travel by the bullet train once… and the Bamboo Forest is so beautiful, especially after the sunset!

Enjoy your Trip, Georgie! 😄

The pictures you took looks amazing, but than again they always are!

The snacks on the bullet train looks so cute! I only heard of the bullet train through the Wolverine movie that Tristan and I went to go see last month on a date. We had Subway first, then went and saw The Wolverine. I highly recommend it. So that’s how I know about the bullet train, and they’re lightning fast. According to that movie, and to what I’ve seen so far.

How do you like rowing? I don’t think anyone sucks at anything. It maybe a bit awkward at first, but no one really sucks at anything. For instance: I can play my keyboard (Piano) by ear some of the time. I can’t even read a lick of notes – however, I can still play. So rowing is a bit hard at first, and maybe it takes some practice to get like James lol. I’m sure he’s done it before. So don’t be hard on yourself 😛. I can’t even do pull ups. I don’t have the upper arm strength aha!

I love the Bamboo forest. I almost decided to make one of the pictures of the river my desktop, but not entirely sure if that would fit my screen res. I do love your pictures and was wondering what kind of Camera do you use? I have a Nikon S3100. It was on sale — so my ‘adoptive’ dad bought it for me (long story).

I’m so glad to see you guys being happy and in a nice area of Japan. I hope you have fun with the rest of your trip. Merry Christmas to you and James all the way in Osaka Japan. Makes me want to study Japanese during this free time I have before school starts. meri-kurisumasu! ^___^

Soooo jealous!! You make me want to go jet off to Japan right now!

Lovely photos as always and omg TAKOYAKI! 😍

The lanterns are really pretty! So was the bamboo forest. It looks so mystical ☺️

So. jealous of everything!! 😭 😭

I can already feel the soothing atmosphere from your snapshots… the town looks so…friendly in every aspect! 😭
And and the waffle, the vending machineee….it’s my dream to buy something from japan’s vending machine lol weird, i know.

TAKOYAKIIII!! ♥️ so round and big and drool-worthy… aaahhh now i want a takoyaki for myself 😭

it’s cool that you guys are in japan on your own (correct me if i’m wrong). i assume you guys planned the places beforehand? how cool 👏
well then, enjoy your trip!