Day 9 – Fukuoka to Kyoto – 27 June 2019 – fire ramen, seeing monkeys at Arashiyama and a Maiko

Kyoto is a splendid city where traditional and modern influences coalesce into a beautiful contemporary city.

Kyoto is known for many famous sites such as Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion), its castles like Nijo Castle, and Fushimi Inari Shrine.

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On our first day, it was unfortunately wet. We had lots of outdoor activities planned and we decided to proceed with them all.

Our first trip was to Menbaka, the fire ramen restaurant, which is close to Kinkakuji. Menbaka is famous for serving ramen with a thick layer of oil and pouring hot molten on top. The moment the hot molten touches the oil, you see a hot burst of flames come out of the bowl. It’s an amazing experience.

The ramen was delicious and had a tasty charcoal flavor to it. Our hosts were charming and chatty and were willing to take photos of us and us with them. In fact, the restaurant has camera holders for visitors.

We took the bus to the west of the city to visit the bamboo forest. It was a very busy, popular location. We saw so many tourists walking around in umbrellas and either eating ice-cream or holding a drink.

The bamboo forest was amazing. The bamboo were tall and sturdy. We would have taken more photos inside the forest, but the rain and the number of people made it difficult to do.

From the bamboo forest, we walked about 25 mins to the base of Arashiyama. The walk was fantastic, since we see so much curated greenery and vegetation. It was beautiful.

We wanted to visit the Arashiyama Monkey Park. From the base, it takes close to 30 mins to reach the summit with the monkeys. The hike up is steep and I felt it took longer than 30 mins to get to the top.

When we reached the summit, we saw the monkeys. Since it was raining, most of the monkeys were sheltered around the main building.

There are strict rules. The first rule is that you can’t move near the monkeys, however you are allowed to have the monkeys move near you. The second is that you can only feed monkeys if you buy the ‘monkey feed’ and must feed the monkey from inside this building – so you are feeding through the gaps in the cage.

The monkeys were so cute! The baby monkeys with their mums/dads were the most adorable things.

We took the local train back to Kyoto Station, because we booked a tour to visit a Maiko, visit a garden and see Kyoto from Higashiyama. The tour can be booked any time when you are in Kyoto by visiting the kiosk north of Kyoto Station. You will see a lot of buses and signs about tours, etc.

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We loved the tour. We were taken aboard a coach/bus and given an introduction to the city while we headed to our first destination to meet a Maiko. A Maiko is a younger geisha in training. Our Maiko performed on stage, while we were eating a delicious dinner.

The Maiko even took questions, but unfortunately you had to ask the questions in Japanese and the answers were also in Japanese. I was surprised when I asked her age, her reply was 16. Wow.

We were served a kaiseki dinner. There was an assortment of sushi and other delicious condiments. I ate everything here.

After the Maiko performance, we were allowed to explore this somewhat private garden. Like many Japanese gardens, it was well kept and lit.

Our last destination was Higashiyama. We were standing atop the mountains overlooking the city. One thing about Kyoto is that there are no really tall skyscrapers.

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What a sight!

Next time we make our own ramen, visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine and get dressed up in cosplay. It was one of my favorite days. Next time Day 10 – Kyoto – 28 June 2019 – ramen cooking class, climbing the Fushimi Inari Shrine and stunning photo shoot at Esperanto Photo Studio.

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