Day 45

It is super hot again. We get out, umbrellas in hand, and walk to a bus stop, trying to double down on shade and walk in shade with the umbrellas. This is most important for Samuel, whose umbrella has been turned over to Noe. After a 45 minutes bus ride that lets us admire the west part of Kyoto, we get out, as many others, and cross the famous 400-year-old Togetsu-kyo bridge. The scenery is bluffing, we can admire birds, it almost feels fresh! On the other side, we come to a section full of temples and shrines. But we have seen many shrines, so we admire the Tenryu-ji Temple from afar, and we aim for the Arashiyama Bamboo forest. As its name states, it is a Bamboo forest, and the Bamboos are majestically big. After a while, we reach Ogra Pond, and Noe and the teens sit down. We hear a strange cow-like, lowing. Rested, we go look for the -strange- cow… and cow it isn’t. It’s a toad! In fact, the lotus flowers that lace Ogura ponds there are many toads that emit a sound that makes us think of cows! We continue the path, explore a little Bamboo extension, quickly visit the Nonomiya shrine (another one that aims at long marriage…). It is close to 2pm when we get back to the main road, aiming for the station. Hunger is lurking. We spot, on Gmaps, a place that has sea bream as specialty, and we know it is a specialty of the region. We hopefully go visit, and are lucky to have a space. We eat a superb dinner of sea brass sashimi with an elaborate set-up. There are delicious pickled veggies, and you are supposed to eat a piece of sashimi alone with sesame soy sauce, then the same but with rice. Then the same, but lay the fish on the rice and pour some green tea on it. This is called Ochazuke. The whole experience is great, the food delicious, and we come out vert happy, ready for more exploration. 
We take the train, but have not time to collect the station stamp, and stop at Nijo. Noe has been talking about Nijo castle and its elaborate nightingale wood floors. In fact, Nujo is a castle built in 1603 as the Kyoto residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo Period (1603-1867). His grandson Iemitsu completed the castle’s palace buildings 23 years later. After the Tokugawa Shogunate fell in 1867, Nijo Castle was used as an imperial palace for a while before being donated to the city and opened up to the public as a historic site. Its palace buildings are some of the best surviving examples of castle palace architecture of Japan’s feudal era are we informed. Nightingale floors (uguisubari) are floors that make a chirping sound when walked upon. These floors were used in the hallways of some temples and palaces, the most famous example being Nijo Castle, in Kyoto, Japan. Dry boards naturally creak under pressure, but these floors were built in a way that the flooring nails rub against a jacket or clamp, causing chirping noises. The challenge, of course, as we admire the tatami rooms and the sliding door art work (which, we are clearly informed, are reproductions, as the originals are preserved in more controlled environment), is to try not to make noise, which is impossible. The rooms, the floors, and the art are all very impressive. We then move on to the garden. It is close to 4.30pm, but we reach the little museum section just in time to see the originals of a number of the sliding doors.
Noe and the kids are frustrated we didn’t get the stamp of Saga-Arashiyama station (we did score Nijo station’s stamp) so we go back to Nijo station to go hunt for the stamps. On the way, we come across Shinsen-en Garden, an old Buddhist temple with a beautiful water garden. We are intrigued by a dragon boat, and this leads to the discovery. After getting the stamp, we get back to Kyoto station, go take the views from Kyoto tower, and walk back to the neighborhood around our hotel for a visit and the most sympathetic Bungalow Craft Beer Bar. Kids are super happy to get to eat the octopus wiener skewers on location, and the rest of us appreciate both the food and the beer! It is then time to rest. 



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