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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 /love
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.
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! :D
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 :P. 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! ^___^
Wow. Your trip looked amazing! You took some amazing pictures!
Soooo jealous!! You make me want to go jet off to Japan right now!
Lovely photos as always and omg TAKOYAKI! /love
The lanterns are really pretty! So was the bamboo forest. It looks so mystical /eee
So. jealous of everything!! /wah /wah
I can already feel the soothing atmosphere from your snapshots… the town looks so…friendly in every aspect! /wah
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 /wah
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!