Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving
We set off this morning late and well rested but with me chomping at the bit to get away earlier so we could see more before our children become feral at 2pm each day. On the way to the station an elderly man fell over in the street so I ran to help him up. He insisted he was fine but we told a shopkeeper who asked the man and he still insisted despite obviously not being fine at all. As we turned to walk away he strode off but fell again and this time some people from the shop dashed out to help him, I hope he’s ok!
We caught 2 metros, and ran for a train that we just caught in time for Kameoka. After stopping for tourist information at the railway station (where the lovely attendant gave our children some stickers) we walked to the office of the Hozu gawa boat ride. We paid a whopping $145 for our tickets and 2 minutes later we were settled on our boat with life belts on.
We were on the same boat as a Japanese film crew who at times filmed us gaijin (foreigners) instead of the scenery. Our captain made a lot of jokes and had the passengers laughing (even I laughed at times even though the jokes could have been about us). The boat took us on a course that stretches 16 km from Kameoka to Arashiyama through a river gorge lined by forested mountains.
Boats were used on this river over 1000 years ago to transport logs to Kyoto when it was being established as the capital city. The boat we rode in is specifically for tourists but uses a traditional design and is purely propelled by 3 people and no motors.
Apart from lovely wild cherry trees, camellia, and Japanese maples, we saw amazing deformed geological formations, and some wildlife including herons, egrets, cormorants, and turtles sunning themselves.
After disembarking and gaining our orientation we walked across the main bridge in Arashiyama and headed up the hill past a Shinto shrine for the Monkey Park. It’s a steep climb and we enjoyed the exercise and scenery as we passed through forest full of Japanese maples with new leaves. Our children enjoyed it somewhat but it felt to us like a gaijin trap because there weren’t any Japanese people in sight. After spending time with decorous Japanese people the gaijin seemed uncouth in comparison.
On the way to the temple strip we passed restaurants that have lovely gardens. We made an unintended visit to the stroll garden of Hogonin Temple. This garden was closed to the public for 140 years and is at least 600 years old.
From there we looked through the austere Zen Buddhist Tenryu-ji Temple and it’s spectacular gardens. The temple was established in 1339 and the garden maintains the form designed in the 14th century by Muso Soseki. I’d like to say that we had a tranquil experience but our children were ratty by this point so it was strained which is a big shame for my husband who has studied Buddhism and practiced Zen. I offered a couple of times for him to experience it alone but he somewhat crazily insisted on us seeing it (aka suffering) together.
From there we walked through the lovely bamboo grove and deliberated over whether to visit another garden and have green tea but decided against it because our children were obviously pushed beyond their capacity. Instead we sipped beer in a park while they played and then made our way rather quickly back home using the splendid rail network.
Back in our neighborhood we visited a sake shop and using a sake guide book my husband got from a Nara festival in Australia and a few words of Japanese we managed to seek the help of the owner to select the type of sake we wanted (all labels of 100s of bottles exclusively in Japanese). He kindly gave our children a few lollies each and I must say that the sake is very nice and went well with the tasty dinner that my husband prepared.