Happy 50+ Birthday to Me!
Having been shown how to use the rail system during our previous trip to Tokyo and getting reacquainted with its use in Osaka we were confident that we could get ourselves to Arashiyama in Kyoto. We did make it to our destination, but discovered that we didn’t pay the correct price for the tickets. Not a problem, the station (and others) have ticket correction machines. (for those stations without this machine you go to the attendants in the booth and pay them the difference to get through). You put your ticket into the machine (one at a time), it shows you the balance due, you put in the amount and it issues you a new ticket. (If your ticket isn’t correct the flippers will swing open to prevent you from leaving). If you lose your ticket along the way (like our daughter did twice) and are with a group of people most of the attendants will wave you through, someone in the group needs to see the attendants to let them know the situation. Most attendants speak basic English and can help you with most problems (which platform to use, what line to take, directions to a different line, etc..) When you’re on the train/subway most announced the next stop in Japanese and English and one line even did the announcements in Chinese and Korean. The trains/subways are almost always on time. The longest delay we had was 6 minutes.
We arrived at Arashiyama Station and walked straight up the road about five minutes and arrived at the banks of the Katsura river over which the Togetsukyo spans. This is one of the places I wanted to visit on my birthday because I’ve seen it in many Jdrama and movies growing up till now. The rest of my family just thought it was a nice place to visit but for me it was being in a place where my childhood with those characters from the samurai chanbara, and ninja shows were filmed.
You can’t tell by the picture but the place was crowded with tourists and school (multiple) students on field trip. You also saw many people in lovely kimono.
Before crossing the bridge we stopped for ice cream, it was 10:00 and already getting hot. We tried the Sakura and Sweet Potatoe swirl. It was interesting.
Walking over the bridge only to discover that the place we were looking for was back on the other side made us realize we had the map the wrong way.
Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama
Since our youngest daughter wanted to see monkeys and it was close to the Togetsukyo, we added this to our trip. Back on the other side of the bridge ( if you come from the Arashiyama Station take the road to the left of the station and you will come to the steps up to the entrance of the monkey park).
It’s a bit of a hike. Before you enter they tell you to put any plastic bags that you are carrying into your backpack, if you don’t have one they let you use one of their cloth bags, this is because the monkeys will think you have food and try to steal it from you. The hike took me 30 minutes, but if you’re younger, in better shape or a hiker it will take you 20 minutes to reach the top. Thankfully there are benches at intervals along the trail to sit for a spell to catch your breath. Just before the scenic lookout and feeding area there is a park/rest area where the kids can play. Our grandson enjoyed playing at the park more than seeing the monkeys.
At the top the view is lovely! It’s worth the climb!
Up here The monkeys congregated around the wooden structure where the humans go in to feed the monkeys, it’s a reversal, the humans are in the cage. We even got to see mommy monkeys with their little babies.
There was a tense moment for our son and grandson who had gone down befor us. They were unable to continue down the hill for about 5 minutes because a huge male monkey had sat in the trail ahead of them eating from a stole chip bag. Once the monkey moved away they continued down with no trouble.
Leaving the Monkey Park we went back over the bride to the town to have lunch, one interesting item they have is a gold leaf vanilla ice cream (1000 yen). Our daughter’s boyfriend got one. He said it tastes like a normal vanilla ice cream with a metallic hint.
Toei Kyoto Studio Park
From the town we walked to the Saga-Arashiyama station (about 10-15 minutes walk) to catch the train e Toei Kyoto Studio Park.
We entered from the back gate, as you walk towards the main area there are paintings of famous characters/actors (Satomi Kotaro, Toshiro Mifune, etc.) followed by cut outs of different Samurai/ ninja characters.
It was so cool seeing the characters from my childhood, Yagyu Jubei, Hattori Hanzo, and others!
I went with 3 of our kids and grandson to the ninja training hall. They give you an inflatable shirt sword and help you through the obstacle course. I did terribly, I set off the wooden alarms on the ropes, climbing through (my phone in my back pocket got snagged on the ropes), and popped my short sword as I crawled on my back stabbing through the wholes they indicated, which made me unable to protect myself from the bubble attack. At the end everyone got a card certifying that we completed the course. My kids said, they gave me one too because they felt sorry for me because I made a poor ninja. 🤪
Next my husband and I went into the ninja maze. In this one you are taught the many ways the ninja sneaks through places via hidden doors, hidden ladders, etc.. Before they let you into the maze they tell you “if you can’t figure it out wave your hands at one of the cameras and someone will come and help you. This one was a little more difficult, but fun. This one doesn’t give you a card for completing the course.
We watched various shows at the different theatres, one was on the use of oil from a frog that they used to prevent a sword from cutting, and being sliced (not chopped) by a sword when rubbed on the body. Another was how they make the different affects in the movies/dramas. Quite interesting. I loved the posters on the walls of one of the theatre of my favorites, Chiba (Sonny) Shin’nichi, and Sanada Hiroyuki.
The Samurai Village area was mostly closed due to them filming. Our son got a glimpse of the actor who plays Mito Komon, as he waited for his scene, and the director in another house with the crew watching the scene that was being shot.
Our final destination in the park was the Anime museum.
They had action figures and more. I would have liked to see everything without rushing, but the park was closing (5:00 p.m.). It was cool seeing the life size, and huge Kamen Riders!
It was a great birthday 🎂!
* Note, everything is in Japanese. Some of the staff speak minimal English, but the attractions and shows are all in Japanese.