Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Autumn with my FCR2 ~

Local and Foreign tourists flock Kyoto all round the year, and it peaks during Autumn. Having lived in Kyoto for 3 years now and witnessing the 4th Autumn after starting to live in Kyoto, I have had no interest in visiting those so-called-famous-Autumn-spots just to avoid the crazy crowd. But this year, since the arrival of my FCR2, I started visiting places that I normally cannot go. For sometimes now, starting this September, almost every weekend, I visit Arashiyama, early in the morning, with my bike it just takes a little over 30 minutes from my home if I take the scenic-yet-non-crowded road along the Katsura river.

(In Front of Arashiyama Park)
(In Front of the serene Lake Hirozawa)
I have heard from people that Arashiyama is at its best during Autumn, and when I visited it a couple of weeks back, I found that out for myself. On that day I had started off from my home at around 0730 AM, and reached Arashiyama at around 0815 AM, and Mmmaaannn !!! it was damn crowded, the parking lot in Tenryuji was already full. Despite the crowd, I couldn't stop myself admiring the beauty of Arashiyama that stood in front of my eyes. After buying my bike, I would have visited it at-least a dozen times, but this time was special. After witnessing the sheer beauty of fall colours for myself, I took Shanthi, and Solomon with me, to Arashiyama on Sunday. With Shanthi, we took more than (3x30) = 90 minutes. Her bicycle has only 3 gears compared to my 10, does that answer the reason for 90 minutes? … anyway, she enjoyed her ride too. We had fresh coffee, some hot toast, and bought some of the finest tofu
(Shanthi and Solomon in Arashiyama)

(Our family + a neighbour in Arashiyama)

To escape from the crowded part, we went to a coffee shop near Seiryuji and after our second-breakfast, we visited the Seiryu-ji

(Anto playing inside Seiryu-ji)

Every time I visit Arashiyama, I come across a post that says, “Kyoto-Yawata-Kizu bicycle road, starts here, 45KM). After doing some research I found out that the road along Katsura is actually a bicycle trail that goes southwards till Kizugawa city, a place near the border Kyoto prefecture, close to Nara and Mie. I wanted to try this route. But then, I had a feeling that 90 KM ride was a bit too much. I decided to give it a shot last Tuesday, it was a National holiday here. I started off from my home at around 0830AM, went to a coffee shop nearby and got involved in a petty chat till 1000AM, and started off towards Kizu at around 1030AM.

Weather was fine, 15C, clear sky, wind was on my side. Except for getting lost from time to time I had fun. By the time I reached Nagarebashi, which is probably the longest wooden bridge of its kind in Japan, I was a bit tired. I had covered around 20 Kilometers from my home. Contrary to many people's guess was built after WWII

(Nagarebashi in the background)

Despite the dead flat track, riding was getting tougher and tougher, the wind started blowing randomly, and the my average speed was down. After leaving Nagarebashi and riding for some 10KM I was tired. And in the whole Kyoto-Yawata-Kizu route, except for Nagarebashi, there is nothing interesting ... Along the cycling road I saw some Huge trees, and nothing else. And when I reached the end of the cycling road, I had much difficulty in finding the following post. Except for the partly-refreshing-mostly-tiring ride, it was an anti-climax.

At this point I was dead-tired and terribly-hungry, I wanted to eat something, sitting relaxed in some restaurant. I wished I had the bike-carry-bag so that I can take it back to Kyoto by train. I started looking for a eating spot and went on for a few Kilometers, I knew that I will be reaching Nara, and yes, that was it. I just wanted to go sight seeing in Nara, except for my brain all other parts of my body objected to the idea. I grabbed a bite, of 2 rice balls, 1 financier, 1 hot dog, 1 lemon drink, and 1 Vitamin drink. I was full. I can say overloaded. Now the entire 45 odd Kilometer stretch was in front of me. Wind was clearly in the opposite direction. Precisely 180 degrees, and it would be 180 degree even when I made a 30 degree turn, it was crazy.

I started off, feeling sorry for not going around Nara, and wondering why I had to ride my bike for more than 40 Kilometers and not visit anything. Why would I do this, I really did not know, I just wanted to get back. Back home, in my comfortable little home. Wind was making the ride a lot tougher, I wished I had something to cover my ears. I could not hear anything, the ear phones from my iPod set to full volume could not beat the noise from the wind. It was very hard that made me wonder, "if this is not a typhoon, what would a typhoon be like ...". I was riding at almost walking pace, sometimes at jogging pace, and sometimes I just stopped, taking a sip and feeling my breath. And when I reached Nagarebashi, I called Shanthi to tell her that I will be late, very late, than what I had planned.

I found out that the same wind that helped me during the onward journey turned into an enemy when I was returning. I was wishing, "cant they be friendly through-out". Anyway I came back home with this nice shot.

(Somewhere near Kizu ...)

After my (Mis)adventure on Tuesday, I decided to try some less crowded Autumn spots in Kyoto, that I had heard from a friend, and I took route 31 that is in the North of Kyoto and went to Iwato-Rakuyo Jinja. It was probably the best place I have visited, partly because I had the entire temple for me. At ~30 Kilometers from my home, It was not far compared to Nara, but tougher ...

(In front of Kyoto Iwato Rakuyo Jinja)

(Fallen leaves everywhere ...)

Rakuyo means, fallen leaves, and they never clear-up the leaves that fall and it remains like a bed. It was just wonderful to see a place like this. I met a Swiss guy who shot this snap, who told me, that he has visited this temple during Autumn every year for 20 years. It was not crowded at all, partly because, reaching here was a humongous task. On my way back I had food in a restaurant called, "Yama-no-Ie Hasegawa", which literally means, a house in the mountain. We can stay here for JPY 5K per person per night. I wish I can drink and stay back someday ... when Shanthi is not around ;-)
(In the midst of No-where ... Yama-no-Ie-Hasegawa)
After having a soup + cheese-hamburger + hot cocoa + some chatting with an old couple, I headed back home. Physically tired and mentally refreshed.


  1. Superb pics!!

  2. Good narrative, Britto. Despite the fatigue, I am sure you must be happy with the time you spent with just your thoughts.

  3. Wow, something's backwards... today is your birthday, but it's us who get a present (your new post)! Great read, and great pics, and now thanks to you I've got a bunch of new places to check out on *my* bike (my motorbike ;-)

    Thanks..... and, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  4. Britto, your post inspired me to go there myself.... it was wonderful! I posted some pics myself:

  5. Good one da , nice to see you becoming better writer day by day and awesome pics . Hope we will soon see an novel from you . Cheers!!