Wednesday morning we rented bikes from the hotel and went to a French restaurant, Boulangerie, for croissants and ran into Mats and Robert (our friends from the night before).

Boulangerie Rauk
Boulangerie Sheep pastries—obviously, because it’s the year of the sheep.

Then we continued our search for gloves until we finally found, what I’m convinced they are the last two pairs in Kyoto (they have some serious personality). Then we biked for an hour in thirty-degree weather to Arashiyama. As we were crossing the Togetsu-kyo Bridge near the main street area, it started to rain and hail (so fun). So we parked our bikes and searched for shelter. We found a soba restaurant but when Daniel went inside to ask how long the wait would be, the hostest refused to acknowledge him. So we walked down the road and found a cute Japanese style restaurant (I think it was called Shigetsu), which much nicer service. We ate a very traditional meal, but it was very bland, nonetheless, lunch was an experience.

Biking in Arashiyama Kyoto
Biking in thirty-degree weather to Arashiyama.
Biking in Arashiyama Kyoto
As we were crossing the Togetsu-kyo Bridge in Arashiyama near the main street area, it started to rain and hail (so fun). This is just before that happened.
Shigetsu Restaurant Menu
The menu which we couldn’t understand a word of. Thank goodness for photos that are semi descriptive.
Shigetsu Restaurant Arashiyama
We ate a very traditional meal, but it was very bland, nonetheless, lunch was an experience. This is part 1.
Shigetsu Restaurant Arashiyama
Part 2 of lunch.

As the rain and hail stopped we found our way into the Bamboo Forest— this place was absolutely magical and enchanting! We meandered through the forest until we found Tenryu-ji Temple, which had the most beautiful garden and lots of newly budding cherry tree blossoms.

Bamboo Grove Arashiyama
As the rain and hail stopped we found our way into the Bamboo Forest— this place was absolutely magical and enchanting!
Bamboo Grove Arashiyama
Jumping Jaxy—in the Bamboo Grove in Arashiyama.
Bamboo Grove Arashiyama
Team shot in the Bamboo Grove/Forest.
Bamboo Grove Arashiyama
Go pro shot of the bamboo.
Tenryu-ji Temple in the Bamboo Grove in Arashiyama
Us in front of Tenryu-ji Temple.
Tenryu-ji Temple in the Bamboo Grove in Arashiyama
Jumping Jaxy—in Tenryu-ji Temple.
Tenryu-ji Temple in the Bamboo Grove in Arashiyama
Us in front of the koi fish pond.
Tenryu-ji Temple in the Bamboo Grove in Arashiyama
The rock garden in front of Tenryu-ji Temple.
Tenryu-ji Temple in the Bamboo Grove in Arashiyama
The most magnificent garden filled with budding cherry blossom trees.
Cherry Tree Blossoms
Spring is here apparently—its cherry blossom season.
Tenryu-ji Temple Cherry Blossom Season in the Bamboo Grove in Arashiyama
Finally! Cherry Blossom season coming to fruition.

We took lots of photos and then got back on our bikes to go to the Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama. We climbed up a hill for a good twenty minutes, learning trivia about monkeys along the way, until we arrived at the top where we could see panoramic views of all of Kyoto. On the hill there are about 200 monkeys roaming freely. The monkeys all have red faces and butts because their blood shows through their skin. They all looked like they were freezing by the way they sat huddling, perched up on various things. There are a few monkey guards who keep the monkeys from charging people (which happens every now and then) by running at them and barking—unique approach. Daniel and I posed for a few photos amid the city views and the monkeys before climbing down the mountain.

Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama
Monkey see monkey do. But I actually sit like this, so I’m not sure who is copying who.
Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama
This is GRANDMA—the oldest monkey at the park—you can tell she’s old because she is skinnier, less fluffy, and more worn down than the rest—is 35 years old (the average age for this kind of monkey is 30) and appeared to be smarter than the rest because she was sitting at the base of an outdoor heater.
Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama
Daniel and I posed for a few photos amid the city views and the monkeys.
Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama
Same same, but different.
Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama
Unreal Kyoto panoramic views from the monkey park.
Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama
Keep reading www.PocketJax.com!

We got on our bikes and started riding as the sun disappeared behind the mountain. About 20 minutes into our ride I hit a curb the wrong way and went flying—next thing I knew I was on the floor with the bike behind me. I freaked myself out and started crying. Daniel came over to hug me, asked if I was okay, and then told me we could fix my jeans. At that point I looked down and realized the fall had shredded my jeans open, this was when I actually started to cry (sad but true). Through my torn jeans we could tell that I was bleeding a bit, but couldn’t really access much of my skin. Daniel found a bike store about three shops away from us (pure luck) and we hobbled over. The two guys running the shop spoke 0 English. They saw I had been crying, saw my shredded jeans, and tried to ask Daniel what happened. They were able to communicate with each other by using Google Translate (so amazing). Eventually Daniel got on the phone with someone’s wife who was translating in English and Japanese for everyone. I called he hotel to see if they could arrange to get the bikes—because we couldn’t fit them into a taxi—and they couldn’t have been sweeter or more helpful. Between the hotel and the bike shop something was worked out. While this was going on, one of they guys at the bike shop ran down the street to bring us hot chocolate because it was freezing. So nice! They called us a cab and we went back to the hotel.

Japanese Bike Shop
Despite not being able to exchange a word in a common language, this man was a complete angle to me. He even ran down the street to bring us hot chocolate because it was freezing out. So nice!

As I was cleaning myself up in the room, the doorbell rang. I opened the door to two very sweet staff members who brought me big Band-Aids, gauze, sterilizing agent, and water as a “sympathy gift”. I was so touched. Before we left for dinner, we went down to the lobby to thank the manager. He handed us a bag, which he told us was “a sympathy gift from the men at the bike shop”. Inside the bag were two bike lights, one that looks like a cat and one that looks like a dog. I was so deeply moved by their kindness. After all, we interrupted them, took time out of their day, and put them out, and yet they managed to give us something yet again. The kindness of people here is something I will never forget.

Animal Bike Lights
A sympathy gift from the bike store guys—cat and dog bike lights.. I was so deeply moved by their kindness.

For dinner we walked to a famous restaurant called Ippudo Ramen and ordered delicious vegetarian ramen. Daniel and I both highly recommend this place! After dinner we wandered around the very empty and very quiet streets for a bit (all of Kyoto at night feels like a tea ceremony because no one speaks) before heading back to the hotel to sleep.

Ippudo Ramen Kyoto
Shotgun restaurant style at Ippudo Ramen.
Ippudo Ramen Kyoto
The most delicious vegetarian ramen. Daniel and I both highly recommend this place!

Thursday we woke up early (even though it was so difficult to get out of bed) and went back to Boulangerie for breakfast. We sat next to Mats and Robert and exchanged stories about the day before. Breakfast was delicious, scrambled eggs with unlimited breads and coffee. Daniel and I took the bus to Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto’s famed “Golden Pavilion”. The original building was built in 1397 and was converted into a temple, but then in 1950 a monk consummated his obsession with the temple by burning it to the ground—weird. In 1955 the temple underwent a full reconstruction—the temple and its garden were majestic and ridiculous. On our way out, we tried various types of mochi snacks and green tea (some with gold leaf inside).

Boulangerie Rauk Kyoto
The pastry section of Boulangerie. So yum!
Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto’s famed “Golden Pavilion”.
Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto’s famed “Golden Pavilion”. The original building was built in 1397 and was converted into a temple, but then in 1950 a monk consummated his obsession with the temple by burning it to the ground—weird. In 1955 the temple underwent a full reconstruction—the temple and its garden were majestic and ridiculous.
Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto’s famed “Golden Pavilion”.
I liked the tickets so I took this shot—Daniel told me it was silly…..
Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto’s famed “Golden Pavilion”.
…one minute later as we’re taking this photo the woman standing next to us puts her tickets out. Photo jacking.
Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto’s famed “Golden Pavilion”.
Us in front of Kinkaku-ji.
Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto’s famed “Golden Pavilion”.
We offered to take a group shot of these boys and instead of letting us take it, they asked us to be in it, and still made one of their friends take it.

For lunch we went to Nishiki Market aka Kyoto’s Pantry to check out all of the strange and exciting food. We bought some weird cheese stick but didn’t like it. Then we tried Onigiri, the triangle sushi rice wrapped in seaweed with poppy seeds, and it couldn’t have been more delicious! We spent around forty-five minutes walking up and down the pathway, checking out the different foods at the different stalls. Eventually we ended up at Iyomata, a hole in the wall sushi-only restaurant and had some tasty and authentic sushi.

Nishiki Market aka Kyoto’s Pantry
Nishiki Market has these colorful glass windowed ceilings that are different than every other inclosed outdoor area.
Nishiki Market aka Kyoto’s Pantry
Random foods at Nishiki Market.
Nishiki Market aka Kyoto’s Pantry
Dried, dehydrated, and flattened squid shop.
Nishiki Market aka Kyoto’s Pantry
Sweets shop.
 Iyomata Sushi Nikishi Market Kyoto
Iyomata, a hole in the wall sushi-only restaurant. Tasty sashimi!
Iyomata Sushi Nikishi Market Kyoto
The chef behind the sushi.

In the afternoon we went to Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine to check out the majestic orange gates. We learned that the shrine itself is dedicated to the g-ds of rice and sake (we were big fans from the start) and is populated with dozens of stone foxes; the fox is considered to be the messenger of Inari, the g-d of the rice harvest. We hopped onto the back of some American families tour and learned a bit about the shrines before leaving. This shrine was totally worth all they hype!

Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine Kyoto
It’s a miracle I was able to get this shot so far away with no one in it.
Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine Kyoto
Jumping Jaxy—in the orange gates of the Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine. Kyoto
Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine Kyoto
This shrine itself is dedicated to the g-ds of rice and sake (we were big fans from the start) and is populated with dozens of stone foxes; the fox is considered to be the messenger of Inari, the g-d of the rice harvest. We hopped onto the back of some American families tour and learned a bit about the shrines before leaving. This shrine was totally worth all they hype!

Daniel downloaded an app called Bean Hunter, which tells you about all the best local coffee shops in a city, so on the way out of Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine, we went to a local place known as Café Goo. We ordered a coffee and a green tea (considering how unpleasant the coffee has been for the last month and a half I wasn’t all too excited about taking the risk on ordering another bad cup). Turns out the coffee here was excellent—smooth and strong without any bitterness—and the owner couldn’t have been sweeter.

Cafe Goo Kyoto
How they do coffee at Cafe Goo!
Café Goo Kyoto Coffee Shop
We ordered a coffee and a green tea. The coffee here was excellent—smooth and strong without any bitterness—and the owner couldn’t have been sweeter.
Kyoto
On the walk back to our hotel in Kyoto.

I headed to the outdoor market to look for a pair of pants (to replace my shredded jeans) and Daniel went to the hotel to relax. I found a store called Who’s Who and had the most fun with the cute Japanese sales associate who spoke no English. Every time I would try pants on she would bring out a different top, jacket, and pair of retro athletic shoes to try them on with. I am pleased to report I found a pretty cool pair of trousers. Oh—one random and interesting thing to note, in some of the stores they have “face covers” for people to wear when they try on anything that goes over their head, so as to avoid getting makeup or sweat on the clothing—strange but also not the worst thing I’ve ever heard.

Who's Who Store Kyoto
I found a store called Who’s Who and had the most fun with the cute Japanese sales associate who spoke no English. Every time I would try pants on she would bring out a different top, jacket, and pair of retro athletic shoes to try them on with. She even had me try on this dress, even though I told her I only needed pants. Such fun.

I went back to the hotel, grabbed Daniel and we met up with Brandon and Patty (amazing friends from Los Angeles) in the hotel bar. We had a drink and then Daniel and Brandon had some weird interaction with a woman dressed as a bell-boy who eventually gave them a dinner recommendation. The four of us walked to Italiana Sagra, a highly recommended Italian restaurant. When we walked in we ordered a fabulous bottle of wine and started to go over the menu. As vegetarians there wasn’t much that Daniel and I could eat but we figured we would get the grilled sea bass, and Patty decided on the same. Two minutes after ordering the nice waiter came back to tell us there is no more sea bass. Then we asked for something else and he came back a moment later to tell us that they didn’t have that either. He then informed us that the English menu we were looking at was from the year before and many of the dishes had been changed. So we requested pasta with olive oil and garlic, which they weren’t able to do. Then they told Brandon they couldn’t make the dish he wanted. We made the call to leave here and go somewhere else for dinner, but we felt bad so we ordered a bread basked which our waiter presented to us in extreme detail, before we got the bill. We decided to go back to Kappa Sushi (the restaurant Daniel and I had dinner at two nights before). We were seated at a traditional Japanese style table and ordered more amazing sushi! Then we all went our separate ways and decided to meet up Saturday in Tokyo. Such a fun night!

Kyoto Royal Hotel & Spa Bar
In the hotel bar meeting up with Brandon and Patty for a drink before a night out in Kyoto.
Italiana Sarga Menu
The menu at Italiana Sagra, which our waiter waited a good twenty minutes after we had ordered to inform us that the English menu we were looking at was from the year before and many of the dishes had been changed.***They say SOURCE instead of SAUCE****
Kappa Sushi Kyoto
Traditional Japanese style table at Kappa Sushi where we ordered more amazing sushi!
Kappa Sushi Kyoto
Group shot at Kappa Sushi!
Kappa Sushi Kyoto
One more for good luck.
Kyoto Streets
Daniel asked this doctor to take a photo of Brandon, Patty and I (soon to be him too) and the man had no clue how to use the camera. So Daniel took a selfie with him.
Kyoto Streets
After a few miscommunications we found a different doctor to take a photo of us.

Friday morning we woke up early, went to breakfast at Boulangerie, saw Mats and Robert, ate and said goodbye.

Boulangerie Rauk
Last breakfast at Boulangerie in Toyko.

 

We took a cab to the Kyoto Station and met the nicest couple— originally from New York, but living in Los Angeles named Laurie and Washington—on the platform as we were waiting for our train. We chatted with them until our train arrived as we were in separate cars. The bullet train was quick and easy, yet again, and we passed Mount Fuji on the way, which was stunning. We arrived at Odawara Station and ran into Laurie and Washington again. They gave us a box of Pierre Hermé French Macaroons as a gift—sweetest people ever!

Kyoto Station
This is what we look like when we’re rushing through an awesome train station.
Kyoto Station
The JR bullet train kind of looks like a porpoise.
Mount Fuji Japan
We passed by Mount Fuji on the way to Hakone. Insane!
Pierre Hermé French Macaroons
Pierre Hermé French Macaroons—a gift from Laurie and Washington. SO NICE!
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