{travel} November ’16: Takao

I feel like I’m never going to catch up with all of these exchange semester posts. Ahhhhh. I arrived in Germany on the fifth (Sunday), and I have been kind of busy since then. Had Monday to unpack and relax a bit before having to head to the Netherlands for university. I didn’t find an apartment in The Hague (but I also kind of didn’t look hard enough), so this semester I will be commuting from Düsseldorf to The Hague. It works out kind of well because it’s only about two and a half hours by train, and because I only have classes on Tuesday and Wednesday, meaning I can just sleep over at friends’ Tuesday night and hence have to do that train trip only once per week. Sure, it’s a bit sad because I will literally have no social life because I won’t see my friends, like, ever, except on Tuesday during my free hours and maybe Wednesday morning … but at the same time I’m kind of excited to get to live with my family and bother and annoy them a bit. I can also work at my old summer job place again (a vegan restaurant), so yeah, got the money part covered, too. And since this semester is the last, but also the busiest because I have to do an important project and write my bachelor thesis, maybe it’s kind of good to be living with my mother who’s going to cook and do my laundry and stop me from jumping out the window (love you, mom ♥). So yeah.

Anyway, this post wasn’t technically supposed to be a life update, but another snippet or whatever from my life in Kyoto. So let’s get into that. Today I want to write a bit about Takao. Takao is a mountainous area, located in the North of Kyoto. (kind of behind Arashiyama? Kind of. Or at least not too far off. *geography queen, obviously*) There’s three famous, historic temples in that area: Kozanji Temple, Jingoji Temple, and Saimyoji Temple. Like pretty much everything in Kyoto, Takao is most beautiful (and most popular) in fall, particularly in November, when the fall foliage starts coming out. So that is why a friend and I decided to go in early November, to get the most out of it.

Takao is connected to central Kyoto by bus. There is the JR bus that leaves from Kyoto Station, and also the City Bus 8 that leaves from Shijo-Karasuma. Both busses take around 45 to 50 minutes to reach Takao.

My friend and I decided to take the city bus, but the bus was so crowded and stuffy and hot that after approximately twenty minutes I felt super sick and asked to get off early. (Pretty sure my friend hated me in that moment, oops.) And then, since busses don’t come that frequently, we decided to just walk the remaining distance to Takao instead of waiting thirty minutes for the next (probably crowded) bus. The weather was amazing and the surroundings beautiful, so it wasn’t all too bad.

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Beautiful fall colours and nature.

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After around an hour of walking, we finally reached Takao. There were a few restaurants, and a few little shops selling dango – sweet Japanese dumplings made from mochiko, riceflour – or chestnuts or other yummy stuff.

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There was also a pretty red bridge stretching over the Kiyotaki river.

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No photoshop. The fall leaf colours were absolutely breathtaking.

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After crossing that small, pretty and red bridge, it was a fifteen-minute walk up a bunch of stone stairs to Jingoji Temple. The insides of the temple are supposedly very pretty, especially during the fall leaf season, but my friend and I still decided against going inside. Because, money. Because, student life. Sigh.

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After admiring Jingoji from the outside for a bit, we found ourselves faced with two options. First, hiking up the nearby Mount Atago, the highest mountain in Kyoto, and experiencing beautiful nature, an amazing view from the summit, but also a lot of pain and despair and tears and okay, I’m exaggerating again. Or, second, following the Kiyotaki river trail, and also experiencing beautiful nature, without the amazing view, but also without the pain and destruction.

We opted for the latter. The Kiyotaki river trail, as the name indicates, is a path along the Kiyotaki river, relatively easy to walk and with almost no incline at all. Walking on this trail, there is apparently a small chance of seeing Japanese giant salamanders. These are the largest reptiles in the world, and they can measure up to one and a half meters in length. Sometimes these salamanders are actually called living fossils because they haven’t changed at all in, like, thirty million years. In other words, they still look the same as they did tens of millions of years ago. Isn’t that crazy? *nerd nerd nerd*

But, sadly, although my friend and I were actively on the lookout throughout the entire walk (well, technically it was only me looking out for them, while my friend was just getting annoyed by my over-excitement and kept telling me that we wouldn’t see any salamanders anyway, and that I should just give up. BUT I NEVER GIVE UP, OKAY? ALWAYS KEEP FIGHTINGU), we didn’t see any salamanders. But the walk was still okay (even though there weren’t any giant salamanders ugh meh) very, very nice, with the amazing, warm sunshine, and with all the trees being covered in red, orange, and yellow.

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The Kiyotaki river walk took around an hour to an hour and a half, if I remember correctly. When we finished, it was already late afternoon, and we decided to just walk around a little longer, snap a couple more photos, and then walk another hour to Arashiyama, visit the bamboo grove there because my friend had not seen it before, and then just head home by train.

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A day full of walking, as you can see/read/whatever. All in all Takao and the Kiyotaki river trail were absolutely lovely and a great experience, and I recommend anybody who likes nature (and walking, hah), and wants to step a little outside the typical tourist-y zone (whatever that means) of Kyoto to go there.

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One last photo, okay, byeeeee.

 

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