Cycling!

Because we had some exhausting days and the forecast wasn’t too great we decided to sleep in a little before heading out. We already decided on a rainy day program the day before. Apparently the temples were clear of tourists when it rains, yet still very nice to visit despite the weather.

Though public transport is amazing we decided to grab some bikes from the hotel, inspired by the crazy bike behaviour we had already witnessed in the city. The lady at the hotel front desk looked at us as if we were crazy, since it was raining, but she did give us some keys and had us sign a waiver that if anything happened it was our fault.

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The bikes were great, albeit very low since they were made for Japanese people. Unfortunately the bikes were not electric nor had gears but despite that they handled the terrain perfectly. It wasn’t long or we were getting used to swerving between pedestrians and occasionally being on the road. It feels like bicycles are in this traffic limbo, not truly belonging on road nor sidewalk.

Because we had to traverse a large part of the city in our own we did get a feel for every day life in the city which was nice. We also found actual super markets (as opposed to the convenience stores on every corner) and since it’s Japan they even had a soy sauce aisle.

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After some time we came across a bridge which provided us with some great views

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While we were taking pictures, the traffic on the road next to us came to a hold. There were several busses loaded with schoolchildren who all started waving like mad at us. We kindly waved back and of course we took pictures.

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Fun fact: when we were taking pictures of the view of the other side  even people in cars slowed down for us so they wouldn’t be in the way of our pictures! Of course we thanked them with a bow.

After a while we arrived at the Matsuo Taisha shrine. There were almost no tourists there, it was mainly filled with people sweeping the leaves.

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They even had the creepy looking Tanuki with the enormous ballsack. (the sack stands for luck in money)

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We decided to cycle a bit more to the south and arrived at the Suzumushi-dera temple.

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We were greeted by a man who explained to us that we could go inside to get some history of the building but it would be all in Japanese, but he told us they also had a beautiful garden so we paid the fee and went there. We even got some homemade candy which tasted a bit like edible paper. The garden looked great, the gloomy weather fitted it perfectly!

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They also had a lookout point from which we had a great view of Kyoto

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Afterwards we went even more South, past the Saiho-ji temple where we did a small hike up the mountain.

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A sign at the start told us it would take 1,5 hours to reach the top and after 15 minutes we decided to head back to our bicycles again. We saw some great scenery, but it wasn’t exactly what we hoped for. At most points it was clearly visible that everything was man-made (a lot of concrete waterfalls) and we decided to spend our time checking out the area in the north.

We got on our bikes again and suddenly it started raining a lot. We decided to ignore it but after a few minutes we stopped to put on our ponchos we had with us, just in case. We fiddled for a few minutes to get them on, and as soon as we were ready to cycle again the rain had already stopped…

After we got out of our ponchos again (they were making a lot of noise because of the wind) we cycled a bit more to the north. When we arrived at Arashiyama we went to the Iwatayama Monkey Park. We had to walk quite a bit up the mountain and the steep muddy path wasn’t making things easier, but in the end we reached the summit.

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There were clear instructions not to have any bananas on you or stare at the monkeys. Inside the building we could feed he monkeys which was quite fun! (feeding outside was prohibited, since the  the monkeys would probably keep trying to get into your bags to find food, like the deer in Nara did)

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This place also provided us with a great view of the city

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After a while we decided to head back to the city again, so we got on our bikes again!

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Now it was time to get some dinner. We dropped of our bicycles back at the hotel and used our app to find a good restaurant nearby, but unfortunately it was full when we got there. We didn’t feel like looking one up again so we just headed into some smaller streets and within a few minutes we found a great looking place where we were sat at the bar. We started with some great dumplings and after that we decided to take the 10 fried skewers special. There we a lot of skewers available so we let them surprise us. The waiter  gave us our plate and said: “here is your order, and this is sauce”, while pointing at a bottle near us.

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It was great fun just picking one up, taking a bite, and then guess what we were eating. Most of them we could distinguish, but a few we weren’t exactly sure. Sure did taste great though!

We even went on a bit of a healthy tour and ordered a steamed vegetable meal

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Even though these were mainly vegetables we eat on a daily basis back at home, they tasted really good, especially with the “I-dont-know-what-this-is-but-it’s-great-sauce”

Afterwards we went back to the hotel again and did some shopping in the nearby Family Mart. (which plays this awesome tune every time someone enters : https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zzuCCkApCL4), grabbed some ice-cream and went back to the hotel to get some rest after our cycling trip, which was around 30km in total.

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