We were lost. There was no denying it. We were following this small pathway hoping to find Arashiyama’s train station in order to go back to our accommodation.
The sun was setting, giving the already cloudy day an even gloomier feel. Then we came around a bend in the road and promptly found ourselves facing tombstones. What the heck?!
The Start of This Arashiyama Adventure
Okay, I know you want to know what happened next, but let me back up a bit to the start of this day. Yep, I’m doing that to you. ^_~
It was another day in Kyoto and my friend and I decided to go on a day tour to Arashiyama, which is considered the second-most important sightseeing district in Kyoto. The Fall colors there are gorgeous and this is where you can find that famous bamboo grove in Japan.
Apparently, there was a cemetery there too as we found out accidentally.
The previous day, we visited Nara and encountered the cute Nara deer. We were still a bit exhausted from that because we did a LOT of walking, but this was our second to the last day in Kyoto. We were determined to not miss Arashiyama!
Gorgeous Fall Colors of Arashiyama
Arashiyama does not disappoint. The Autumn colors there are indeed beautiful! The weather that day was cloudy and it rained intermittently. But the gray skies did not take away from the beauty of those orange, red, and yellow trees you can find all over Arashiyama during the Fall.
There are also several temples you can visit in Arashiyama, including the Tenryu-ji Temple, the Nison-in Temple, and the Jojako-ji Temple. You can check out the hilltop park, Kameyama Koen, as well. Historical spots and structures abound, too. In short, a day tour in Arashiyama is highly recommended!
Since we were there mainly for the Fall colors, we decided to just follow where our feet take us. The plan was just to walk around and go where our sense of adventure leads and not have a list of temples or spots to visit. We really just wanted to enjoy the nature in the area that’s unabashedly wearing their Autumn coats.
Zen Moments at Tenryu-ji Temple Garden
While walking around, we came upon the Tenryu-ji Temple, which is amazing to me because of its long history, beautiful architecture, and stunning zen garden!
Visitors were not allowed to take photos inside the zen garden because everyone is encouraged to just sit and enjoy the serenity of the place. The other buildings and the grounds of the temple are stunning still. I had no problem giving in to the pleasure of admiring the structures and people watching.
Tenryu-ji Temple Details:
- Free admission to the grounds
- Entrance to the Hojo Garden is 500 Yen for Adults; 300 Yen for Junior High and Elementary students
- Entrance to Hodo / Unryu-zu is 500 Yen
- Opens from 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM on March 21st to October 20th; up to 5:00 PM only on October 21st to March 20th.
- about 1 min walk from Arashiyama Station, Keifuku Densetsu, Arashiyama line
- around 13 min walk from Saga Arashiyama Station, JR Sagano line
- about 15 min walk from Arashiyama Station, Henkyu railway
Braved the Cold for Togetsukyo Bridge
After we got out of the temple, we continued walking and found our way to Togetsukyo Bridge. The views you can enjoy here are breathtaking! But, as mentioned, the weather was not so good that day and it actually started drizzling at this point.
Not used to cold temperatures, my friend and I shivered all the way to the bridge. It felt like I’ll never be warm again. My fingers felt like they were freezing. My friend’s chin started trembling as it was that cold! My tush even felt cold! Haha.
So, despite the amazing views around us, we only stayed at the bridge for less than 30 minutes before seeking a warm drink.
Walked through the Famous Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
Since it was getting late in the afternoon, we decided to go find the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and it’ll be our last stop. After all, when you say Arashiyama, the bamboo grove always comes up in connection with it.
It was quite calming to walk through that bamboo-lined path and it was indeed beautiful. It would have been even more amazing if there weren’t so many people there. But it was peak season so we had no choice but to share the path with hundreds of other tourists.
There were some spots where we got the path all to ourselves and it was truly nice. But those moments were short and just made me want to return there during off-peak season and enjoy that place in my own introvert way.
Getting Lost and Stumbling into a Cemetery
The sun continued its setting course and the area darkened some more.
We thought we were still following the bamboo grove path but apparently, we’ve diverged quite a bit. We had GPS and internet during this trip, but the signal in that area, for some reason, was not very good back then. So, our online map wasn’t as helpful as we wanted it to be.
We weren’t hopelessly lost, just a bit turned around and confused.
We were not worried or nervous, either. In fact, we enjoyed that whole experience because it was fun and felt like such an adventure!
Then, we came around that bend and voila – a very quiet cemetery greeted us. Many of the tombstones were about our height or taller, which felt oppressive somehow. And since it was dusk and the wind began picking up, the hairs on our necks started to stand. It was really eerie the few moments we were caught by surprise.
We had a mini panic attack, too. As anime fans and exposed to the Japanese culture, it didn’t take long for our imagination to go down dark and creepy ways. Sh*t, what if Sadako suddenly comes out?! What if those Japanese ghosts or shinigamis, or soul eaters appear? What if all the Ayakashi start feeding on us? Yeah…not good.
However, there came a break in the clouds and a bit of the remaining light shone through. And we stopped being scared and started appreciating the cleanliness and orderliness of that cemetery! My brain noticed how space-saving those tombstones were as well and how those marble tombstones looked so high quality. Yes, I can be weird in that way, sometimes. 😀
So yeah, we ended up laughing at our silly thoughts and reminded ourselves that we were two grown women lol. We paid our respects to the people buried there and hurried on our way to find the train station.
Ending the Day with Sweet Japanese Pastry
So, that’s how our getting lost in a cemetery story ended. Sorry that nothing much more exciting or scary happened. But we’re just thankful that we made it back in one piece haha.
Since we did so much walking that day, we decided to treat ourselves to some sweets. We came upon this small Japanese cafe manned by one person only. That man took care of the register as well as the baking, methinks. Such efficiency!
There were two other customers there, an American and Vietnamese I think. We talked to them for a bit. Then the cafe owner joined in, which made the whole thing even more memorable. We just chatted about adventures and travels while enjoying delicious pastries.
To top it all off, the cafe owner asked us to put a pin on the world map behind us. He wanted us to pin where we came from (the Philippines) and he then took this picture of us.
Overall, it was a wonderful day!