Welcome to Day 11 of Janet, Randy and Family Japan Adventure 2016
Sunday, April 17th, 2016
Had a good sleep and woke up sometime after 6:00am. Today Randy's mom and her sisters were going to Mio to catch up with some long lost relatives. However, Randy's mom had been up all night being sick, so she wasn't able to go with her sisters. She ended up spending all morning in bed, but was feeling a little better later in the day. I guess getting supper from a grocery store didn't agree with her (she was the only one who got sick - the rest of us were fine).
Randy headed off to an 8:00am yoga class while I caught up on paying some bills and packing away the purchases we have accumulated here in Kyoto. Janet was originally going to meet up with my Dad for breakfast, but since mom was ill, he wisely changed his plans.
I arrived at the studio about 10 minutes prior to class start. The instructor was at the front desk and could speak some English so I was thankful for that. I changed and went into the studio to find I was one of five in the class. Shortly after I arrived one other person joined and that was the extent of the students this fine Sunday morning. Class was challenging as I hadn't been to a class in over two weeks, and of course with all the walking we have been doing lately. Needless to say I was not nearly as flexible as I should be. The entire class was in Japanese with the odd few English words thrown in, but since I know the series, its not difficult to follow along. When he was done his class, I met him at the Starbucks and had breakfast with him. It had been raining all morning, but was starting to ease off a bit.
When we got back to the hotel, we checked in with Randy's parents to see how she was doing. As she still wasn't feeling that great, we headed off to Arashimaya by ourselves. I had checked some possible transit routes while Randy was at yoga, and found out that there is the Randen Kaifuku streetcar that would take us straight to Arashimaya, and the streetcar station wasn't that far from the hotel. It turned out to be a really easy way to get there, and it was kind of fun to be riding a streetcar. Although the streetcar ride was a bit to be desired.
It took about 25 minutes to get to Arashimaya, and we were pleasantly surprised how pretty the streetcar station was. All through the station is what they call the Kimono Forest - which are pillars of kimono material. It was very cool, and I imagine it looks amazing at night.
First on our agenda was the Bamboo Path. This was a short walk from the station, and it meandered through a large grove of bamboo. As it was a Sunday, it was quite busy with lots of tourists (most of them walking around with selfie sticks in front of them). We wandered through part of the bamboo grove, but figured we had seen enough and headed back to the street. We also stopped for a mango shave ice, which was very refreshing (as well as delicious).
Arashimaya is known for its hot springs, and the area has a resort-town vibe to it. It is actually quite a pretty area, and it was very interesting to wander around (us and many thousands of others). We were starting to get hungry (and a little hot, as the clouds had gone away, and it was getting quite warm out), so we stopped at a soba noodle restaurant called Iwawo for lunch. I got some chilled soba noodles, and Randy got some chilled noodles with a side of tempura prawns. The soba noodles were really good - almost delicate in nature. Definitely the best soba noodles I've ever had. It was a refreshing meal on a hot day.
After lunch, we wandered across the river to Arashimaya Monkey Park Iwatayama. This is an area, at the top of a hill, that has Japanese macaque monkeys (also known as snow monkeys). The only way to get to the top where the monkeys are is to climb up a steep path. At the park entrance they tell everyone that it is a 20 minute walk uphill, so that people are aware of what they are getting into. The very first part is the steepest, and the rest is a fairly gradual climb after that. But, since I have the lung capacity of a gnat, I did have to stop a few times to catch my breath. Even with stopping, it took just over 20 minutes to get to the top, so that's not bad. We had known that it was a hike to the top prior to even going, so we had prepared ourselves that we wouldn't be at the park in a couple of minutes. Not to mention every review I read said it was a hike, but worth it once you arrived at the top.
At the top of the hill is an open area with a great view of Kyoto. There is also a hut where you can go inside and feed monkeys that come to the window from the outside. Bags of food (banana or apple or peanuts) can be purchased for 100 yen each.
At first we were feeding a big fat guy that was shoving food into his mouth. Then he had his fill and went away, and skinnier guy came up for the rest of our food. Randy had finished handing out his food and had gone to wash his hands. While he was gone, I had just stood to the side to let others feed the monkey. One couple came up and the monkey didn't seem to want to eat their food. They commented that maybe the monkey wasn't hungry. I said that I had just been feeding him, and I put my hand out with some more food - which the monkey promptly took. So, apparently he liked being fed by me instead! Maybe they were trying to pawn off the peanuts ?
We hung out for a while at the top of the hill, taking pictures of the monkeys. I even managed to get a video of some baby monkeys playing around. After we had our fill of taking pictures, we headed back down the hill (where the lung capacity of the gnat propelled her all the way down the hill without having to stop once), and checked out some shops as we wandered back to the streetcar station. In one of the shops they had some leather collars for cats and dogs. The collars could be personalized with the pet's name. In the cat collars section, there were two personalized collars on display. One of them had 'Princess' and one of them had 'Randy'. That is so random! Seriously, someone named their pet "Randy"??
When we got there, there was a streetcar waiting, but it was already standing room only. As we were tired from all the walking, we decided to wait for the next streetcar. Mere steps away from the platform was a place that sold soft green tea ice cream (so good !). So, we grabbed a couple of cones and then got onto the next streetcar that came along (which had seats available). The streetcars leave every 10 minutes, so we had time to finish off our ice cream before the streetcar even started moving. It definitely hit the spot after a hot walk to see some monkeys.
We headed back to the hotel, where we just chilled for a while (and Randy had a snooze). Around 5:30pm, we heard from Randy's parents - in that they were ready to go out for supper. We decided to take the subway to Kyoto Station and find a place to eat. We ended up at Tonkatsu KYK - which is in the Porta shopping area of Kyoto station. Basically they had breaded pork or breaded shrimp on the menu. If you wanted anything else, you were out of luck (which is typical of most places in Japan, they have very limited things they serve and if you want something different then you need to go to some place different). However, since there was a queue to get in, we figured it must be good. We only waited about 10 or 15 minutes before we were seated.
We were served some sauce dishes and a small salad before our main meal came out - along with rice, miso soup and cabbage. These last 3 items were all-you-could-eat - so you just had to ask if you wanted more (Randy got another bowl of rice, as he likes his rice - very much). The tonkatsu was very tasty - everyone really liked their meals.
After supper, we grabbed the subway back to our hotel and I spent time going through the pictures and updating the journal.
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