Shortly after waking, I spent time wandering again.
During the previous day (and early in my cycle) I passed by a long canal-like area that I thought would be worth checking out.
I asked Gabe if he wanted to come along.
He told me that, in his experience (I think), he found wandering around whilst traveling was not a good way to see a place.
I reminded him that I had come across many interesting things at that point.
As he decided not to join me, I said that if he headed out before I got back, to send me a message so I’d know when I returned.
Once I left, I first headed to the road that the canal-like area was on and headed in the opposite direction. I saw 西本願寺 (Nishi Honganji), so I checked to see if it was accessible yet. It wasn’t.
After that, I headed to the canal-like area (堀川 [Hori-Kawa river, or at least part of it]).
Once I reached it, I headed down the stairs that lead to its beginning and followed it the whole way.
Kyoto already felt like a city removed from a city, but this was something else.
It was undeniably a part of the area it was in, but being beneath ground level, passing under bridges but not being covered, not being able to see anything beyond the walls, with various plants and a stream to follow, left it feeling as though it was part of a city removed from a city that felt as though it was removed from a city.
It was very relaxing and beautiful whilst still being, to an extent, incredibly plain and unremarkable.
That is the best way I can describe it at this moment.
Eventually I ended up in a fairly open area. To my right I spied a fallen iron horse; a bike that had sadly fallen to the wayside, having lived a life and bound to watch as the rest of the world continued to move beyond it, unless someone brought it to a good home to care for it and restore it to a grand glory.
Shortly after this, the area became more forest-like as the path went back to ground level.
Whilst it was still relaxing, the feel had certainly changed to one much closer to nature.
Having enjoyed my walk, I made my way back to the guest house as quickly as I could.
I had to catch a train part of the way back as it was going to take too much time to walk the whole way back if I didn’t.
There had been communication with Tim and the guy.
Before I left for my walk, I sent out a message about meeting up during the day to do something (like cycling around or heading to 金閣寺 [Kinkaku-ji]).
When I got back, I saw that Gabe was there. I checked the conversation and as I was scrolling through, I saw that Gabe had said at one point in it, “Just waiting on __ to get back (story of my life)”, during a serious discussion about meeting up.
It was not appreciated.
After a very, very brief respite, I told Gabe that if he ever used me as an excuse for his laziness again, I would not talk to him.
He told me that I misunderstood, was taking it the wrong way, and was taking it out of context (the context being working out what time to meet up), but he refused to explain how I was taking it the wrong way.
Anyway, the guy was heading to the Manga Museum before leaving Kyoto that afternoon for his next destination, whilst Tim was heading to 金閣寺.
Gabe and I rented bikes (with me renting the same one as the previous day) and began to make our way to hopefully meet with Tim and, if we had enough time, meet with the guy.
The bath I had paid off far more than I expected, as I was not feeling any pain that day.
It helped that Kyoto was fairly flat, which made cycling much easier, but I do believe it was mostly the bath that helped.
On the way, we stopped for breakfast at a place called Komeda’s Coffee.
I had suggested eating light whilst we were cycling, so we didn’t.
Decent food, but not something I’d normally have for breakfast, although it did come with a boiled egg and bread.
We continued on afterwards but after about fifteen minutes, Gabe decided he wanted to do his own thing.
He said he felt he was holding me back a bit and because it was good weather (the sun was out and very little clouds, if any at that particular point in time, could be seen), he wanted to dawdle a bit.
We went our separate ways. After another fifteen minutes (approximately), I reached 金閣寺.
I thought it was pretty nice.
It’s not often you get to see structures that golden, or important.
The area it was in was pretty pretty.
At this point I found myself disdainful towards other tourists.
Almost everyone I saw was taking pictures of themselves in front of 金閣寺.
Normally I am not bothered by this.
However, when it appears as though it’s what most people came to do and not actually appreciate the beauty and significance of what they’re seeing, then the action defeats the purpose of being there and they only cheat themselves of the experience.
I cannot stress enough that I’m aware of how stupid that line of thought is and how ridiculously judgmental it was as well.
I think I was still in a bit of a sour mood from the message Gabe sent and his lack of explaining it, but that doesn’t justify what I was thinking.
Anyway, once I was done there, I headed off and cycled around a bit more.
It was a short time before I reached 鴨川 (Kamo River). I followed it for a few minutes before crossing over. Soon after I discovered 下鴨神社 (Shimogamo Shrine).
It was a very beautiful and peaceful area. Most of it felt like being in a large forest.
The area was large and had a number of things to see. The air felt fresh and light and the temperature seemed to be cooler.
I spent a bit of time there walking around and seeing the sights it offered.
Eventually I headed further east to see what else was there.
Shortly after crossing another part of 鴨川 and heading uphill, I reached 鷺森神社 (Saginomori Shrine).
It was in another forest-like area.
It was, in some ways, much older in feel than the previous one and also more humble.
There was a small pathway that diverged from one of the pathways that connected to 鷺森神社.
I followed it, with it taking me to two things.
One was a small statue at the base of a tree.
The other was what seemed to be a very small shrine..
I think that part of the fun of traveling is coming across these kinds of things.
Soon I was off cycling again, gradually making my way around. I came across a pathway that I thought would lead up to another shrine. A few seconds on that path and I saw a snake… snaking its way down a gutter that ran alongside the path.
Deciding that the path might not be a good idea for me, I continued along.
Eventually I came across a map of the area and saw that there was a shrine partway up a mountain (Uryu-yama).
Seeing as it was reachable by road, I decided to go there as it seemed like something interesting to check out.
I reached the road that lead up to the shrine quickly enough.
I had to walk up though as it was a little too steep for me to go up (I could have been a bit fitter).
I soon reached a flight of stairs. Not willing to leave the bike there (whose name was Carrot [I found this out when I found 鷺森神社, as I finally noticed the inconspicuous sticker on the front of the bike]), I decided to carry it up the stairs.
As I was going up I saw three other people.
When they saw me carrying my bike, one of them asked “Do you know what you’re doing?”
The correct answer would have been “Yes”, without stopping my walking.
Instead, the answer I gave was “I’ve cycled ninety kilometres in forty degrees heat. This is nothing”.
I can verify that I’ve cycled that distance when I did the Sydney to Wollongong cycle.
That was in 2013.
I believe it was a bit cooler than forty degrees though.
Anyway, the person then advised me that it was two-hundred-and-fifty steps to the top.
I wasn’t aware of this and it didn’t bother me much as I was already a small part of the way up, but it certainly did make heading up a bit more difficult.
The stairs lead to a slightly more open area with two sets of stairs that, after setting Carrot down and walking up one, I found lead to the same area.
I went back down to grab Carrot and then went up again.
狸谷不動院 (Tanukidani-fudoin) had a stillness to it, almost preserved and unmoving.
It was incredibly quiet inside. Part of this was that there were only two other people inside (who were also visiting it), but it felt that most sound was also unmoving inside.
There was an information centre near it that I was able to buy water from.
I didn’t bring water with me as… I don’t know.
I noticed that there was a flight of stairs near the information centre.
After admiring the view, I took Carrot and continued upwards.
I wanted to go further up as I thought there might be a temple area somewhere closer to the top of Uryu-yama.
I also wanted to get a picture of Carrot at the top.
I thought that it would make for a good photo.
I came across a small shrine at one point, but no mountain top.
I was walking with Carrot for somewhere over an hour along narrow paths.
When the path didn’t go back up for a while, I realised I was not on the path I wanted to be.
Eventually I reached a creek. I followed it as I hoped it would lead me to a road.
I ended up coming across another shrine (one I cannot find the name for, unfortunately) that was wonderful to be around as it felt as though it belonged where it was.
That’s not to say that nothing else didn’t.
This one just felt very appropriate.
There was a road about a minute away from where I was.
I was glad to be off Uryu-yama and after about thirty minutes of cycling, I was back at the guest house.
Gabe went to the 二条城 (Nijō Castle) and slept there for about an hour.
After that, he went to the Manga museum.
Whilst we missed our chance for meeting up with the guy, Tim was happy to meet up for dinner, so after spending time getting ready (and having another bath), I headed out to eat with him.
Gabe decided to stay at the guest house and rest.
It wasn’t too long before Tim and I met up.
We headed to Chojiri to eat and shared our stories of what we had been doing in Kyoto.
I stuck mostly to having things that weren’t fish as I’m not good at eating it.
Well, not usually.
I did have some sushi that had been out of the fish for about two minutes.
It was almost without taste.
I found this interesting.
I also had some lightly battered tempura that was easy to consume.
Tim and I had, at one point, wasabi rolls with wasabi paste.
I know that I would do it again.
However, I wouldn’t recommend it.
It was… something else.
Tim and I were there for a while as the food was decent.
Once we left, we went on the hunt for a place to drink as we still had some time.
We found a really small bar that seemed alright.
We ordered sake.
Out came a plastic bottle and two glasses.
It was the first warning sign.
We sat outside and began to drink.
It was quite strong and poor in taste.
I’m fairly certain I’ve had off milk that has tasted better.
We were laughing a bit out of shock of how bad it was, drinking it slowly, when a guy came up to us and started asking us questions.
Tim offered his drink to this person. He took a sip, looked puzzled, drank some more, then said it was 焼酎 (Shōchū).
I thanked him.
He then told me he didn’t like me.
He asked how old we were.
I told him how old I was.
He gave me a fist-bump.
He asked Tim again.
Tim asked how old he was.
He said he was forty-three (I think).
Tim said he was thirty (I think).
Then the person noticed two women emerge from a building near us.
He tried to get their attention. When he failed, he grumbled and wandered off.
Tim and I weren’t able to finish our drinks as they were far too strong and poor in taste.
We returned our glasses and walked around a bit more before we said our goodbyes.
I had to catch a train part of the way to get back to the guest house.
When I got off and exited the station I needed to, the station agent thanked me.
This is something that I believe happens fairly often.
It had already happened to me a few times during the trip.
I responded in kind.
Now, I thought the way to say “thank you” formally was “arigato daiamas” as I misheard Gabe’s friend say it.
As I was close to being drunk at that stage of the evening, I said “arigato dumb ass”.
I didn’t realise until I thought about it.
After I was out of the station, I wondered if I should have gone back and apologised.
The problem is that it would have required explaining and I thought the agent wouldn’t have heard me say dumb ass.
I ended up heading back to the guest house instead as I needed sleep at this point.