I once, back in February, I believe, promised a retelling of the events and experiences of my great journey to Japan, did I not? As the more observant among you, as well as basically everyone who’s been reading this blog before or since then, might have noticed, this has not yet happened. I do still intend to share my experiences, but whether that will be as extensive as I had initially planned. That was something I should have done shortly after getting back home, when it was all still fresh in the mind. Instead I will, every now and then, share a short bit on specific sights/events/experiences, accompanied with some pictures and/or videos.
Today I thought I’d start with one of the most memorable and inspiring visits (which says a lot!) I’ve made. About halfway through our journey, having arrived in Kyoto a few days earlier, my friends and I went to the district Arashiyama.
This is where I was first introduced to the no less than breathtaking Japanese gardens. Beautifully and meticulously composed and kept, both in the gardens of the Tenryu-ji temple and the ones at Okochi Sanso, the former home and garden of the late actor Denjiro Okochi, quiet, peace and tranquility reigned like nowhere else among the plants, trees, ponds and zen stone gardens as well as the stunning view over the mountainous area around us.
Just a few of the views of the Tenryu-ji gardens (January 2016)
View over Arashiyama from Okochi Sanso (Janurary 2016)
One of the sights Arashiyama is quite famous for, and one that was definitely on our to-see list, is that of its incredible bamboo grove. In-between our visits to the gardens we passed through but a small part of the positively massive bamboo trees, shooting high up into the sky, providing an awe-inspiring display of nature from the ground all the way up to the sunlight shining through the trees’ canopies way up high.
The magnificent bamboo grove of Arashiyama (January 2016)
The final sight was one I had discovered during the journey and is one I can absolutely not leave out, especially here. Arashiyama is also the site of Rakushisha. Translated as the House of Fallen Persimmons, Rakushisha, a small, humble and quiet place, was once the hut of Mukai Kyorai, a famed haiku poet from the late seventeenth century and disciple to undoubtedly one of Japan’s most famous poets, Matsuo Basho. Particularly for a haiku writer such as myself, standing, sitting and walking around, in a place where one of the great haiku writers of old once stood, sat and walked around, almost as if I were in his very presence, was among the most inspiring experiences I’ve ever had, not just on this journey, but in my life. Afterwards I visited Kyorai’s gravestone, only about a hundred meters from Rakushisha. Unfortunately I do not have any pictures (I felt it somewhat, disrespectful to take pictures at a cemetery), but I can say with certainty it really made an already incredible experience unforgettable. Though the word inspiring (which is one of the words that appears in my travel report with great frequency, alongside “amazing” and “breathtaking”), certainly comes closest to describing it, it actually hardly does it credit.
A couple of the sights at Rakushisha (January 2016)
In fact, whether describing the gardens of Tenryu-ji and Okochi Sanso, the great bamboo grove or Rakushisha, they were sights that were very difficult to capture with words or images. They truly deserve to be experienced. Should you ever have the opportunity to visit Kyoto, do not miss your chance to spend at least a day in Arashiyama and experiences this incredible sights for yourself!
I hope you enjoyed this little peak at one of the highlights of my journey to Japan. Feel free to leave any questions, comments, perhaps your own experiences with these places you might have. I’d love to hear from you! Hopefully I’ll be back with more stories soon! ^_^
(Note: all photos have been made be me. Feel free to use them, but at least drop a short notification if you do so! Thank you! ^_^)