Arashiyama

Jeroen like most foreign tourists really wanted to see Kyoto, so that was our destination for today. We took a train to Kyoto Station where Jeroen got to admire all the stairs and escalators first and then we all waited for about an hour for a bowl of ramen. The ramen was good, but I’m still not good at the waiting thing and I just kept going this time because we had to pay before we joined the line, so we couldn’t escape without losing money.
Having just spent a lot of time wondering the streets of central Kyoto last week, we went to a touristy district at the outskirts of Kyoto named Arashiyama. There we checked out the Tenryuji Temple, built in 1339 and ranked first among Kyoto’s ‘Five Great Zen Temples’. It is famous for its landscape garden which is still in its original form, and where all the pebbles are lined up perfectly.
We were liking the Zen Temple and ended up rushing back to the station to catch the Sagano Romantic Train from Arashiyama to Kameoka. I had a painful leg cramp while running to catch the train, but couldn’t stretch it because we were way too late and we had already bought the tickets earlier. I told myself I’d be sitting in the train soon enough where I could relax my leg and enjoy the beautiful views of the canyon following the course of the Hozu river. Boy was I wrong, apparently we’d bought standing tickets (the ticket lady never bothered to tell us) in a crowded train. There’s nothing romantic about standing in the aisle with dozens of others like a bunch of commuters on the subway. The seated people weren’t that lucky either because us ‘commuters’ were blocking the view because there was constantly a mountain on one side of the train. Then there was some guy dressed up as a wolf, trying to entertain the kids while pushing his way through the aisle. And at the same time there was a lady pushing the opposite way through the aisle taking Polaroid pictures of the seated tourists and trying to sell them.
To sum it up there was way too much pushing going on, while trying to stand in an unsteady train with bad views of the canyon and way too much time was spent driving through dark mountain tunnels. All in all, a very bad experience and not worth the 600 yen we had to pay for the ride. And as an extra bonus I ended up with a rather severe calf muscle injury because there was no way to relax and stretch my leg properly.
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