We woke up to better weather; it wasn't sunny yet, but there was no rain, and it was supposed to be warmer, so we left our jackets in the room. The meeting point for our tour today was at the New Miyako hotel, just to the west of the Hotel Avanti where we'd met the last couple days. There was a giant tour group of South American tourists who were checking out of their hotel, but once they cleared out we could see our guide, Sumiko. It was a relatively small group of us, 13 plus Sumiko. Today wasn't a bus tour, but instead a train-based tour like the one in Inari a couple days earlier. We had twice as many people today, though, so we were interested to see if Sumiko could keep track of 13 people in a crowded train station, and whether they could keep up. Justin was wearing a bright orange shirt, however, so one of the other guests told Crystal they were just going to follow Justin. We took a short train to Arashiyama, a couple miles west of town. It was packed with people, perhaps the busiest train or subway we'd been on all trip.

At Arashiyama, it was quite a bit less busy than in Kyoto (or even Nara), and we just started walking west through the local neighborhood. Sumiko showed us a small shrine full of rock piles and explained something to us about how the rock piles signified building a stairwell out of the river styx. She also explained to us the three famous plants in Japan - bamboo, plum tree, and pine tree. The bamboo is famous because it is straight and never breaks. The pine tree is evergreen (which is fairly uncommon, at least in northern Japan). The plum tree is always the first to bloom in the spring, even if there is still snow around.

We had picked this tour because of the Sagano Bamboo Grove, and at first the grove was a little underwhelming, as it was sparse and broken up by houses and other lots. Along the way we stopped briefly at a small shrine for just a few minutes. Nothing jumped out as particularly new or different from what we had seen previously, but since we can't read the language, perhaps there was something we could have read that would have changed our opinion. After leaving the shrine and getting even more into the bamboo forest, however, it really grew in stature (figuratively, not literally). As with the Inari gates a couple days earlier, we tried to get some shots with few or any people in them, but it was difficult as people kept coming in waves. At one point we passed a pond, and we swore there must have been cows in the area, but it was actually just some large toads. Just past the pond we went to the Jojakuko-ji Temple, which had winding paths going up a steep hillside to well above the temple. From up there we got a great view of the area, plus Kyoto in the distance. Also, there weren't many people at all, so it was much more peaceful than the previous two days. We tried to get some tranquil video, but as you'll note in the video above, the few people in the vicinity managed to talk over a fair amount of it.

We walked down from Jojakuko-ji and headed back the way we came, then veered off a bit to come in the back entrance to Tenryu-ji, which is famous for its zen garden that has existed for 700+ years. The temple buildings have burned multiple times and been rebuilt, but the garden is pretty much identical to how it has been for centuries. The Sogen Pond Garden was very nice, and there were paths behind it that were nice as well. There was good mixture of water, plants, and rocks, and inspired us to maybe put some sort of zen garden in Vista, perhaps where our big lawn used to be. There were lots of raked pebbles, which from that description admittedly doesn't sound that nice, but it really did look nice. We'd just need to put any garden we had like that away from the pups.

At our last stop, a bridge over the Katsura River, Sumiko asked who was coming back with her, and who wanted to head back on their own. That's a big benefit of tours not on buses - you can just stay in that area for longer if you want, so long as you can navigate your way back to the train station. We had stuff we wanted to do in the afternoon, however, so we told Sumiko we'd head back with her. We had a little bit of free time, and we used that to get some fried chicken that we shared. We almost got lost on the way back to the meeting point, but Dewey and Clarita told us we hadn't gone far enough before we turned around - we had turned back about one block from where we needed to go. Part of the problem was that the streets were entirely different now (close to noon) than they were at 9am when we showed up. When we arrived at 9, lots of things were closed and the streets were empty, but now everything was packed, so it didn't look remotely the same. We took a densely packed train back to Kyoto, and when we got back to the station we split up from Dewey and Clarita. They went back to the hotel, and we went out for a self-guided walking tour.

We took a cab to the northeast part of town, and started our trek at Ginkaku-ji, the Silver Pavillion. Just as our guide had mentioned the day before, it was very "zen," with sand sculptures, raked sand, and lots of other natural features that made us wonder what happened every time it rained. There were some nice paths up the back side (east side) of the temple area, and from up there we had good views of town. After leaving Ginkaku-ji we followed the map on what we though was the Path of Philosophy, but was instead a residential street that was just east. But it didn't matter, as we found the temples we wanted to find, Honen-in and Anrakuji. There were hardly any people at either, and they weren't much to look at (comparatively), but it was nice to just be away from all the people. We walked past Reikanji Temple, but it was closed, and after that our residential street turned west and we joined up the actual Path of Philosophy, which was in fact a path, and not a residential street. The path was nice, but all of a sudden there were more people as well.

We were dragging a bit at this point, as all we'd had to eat was the fried chicken bites we'd split in Arashiyama, and we'd walked at least 10 miles. We probably would have enjoyed our next stop, Eikan-do Temple, a lot more but for this fact. Eikan-do just kept going and going and going, with lots of connected buildings by boardwalk, and then beyond that there were also numerous paths going around the grounds, including up a steep hillside for great views of Kyoto. Crystal had enough of the walking, but Justin went up quickly to get a view of the city. Since we were both tired, we skipped the last temple we planned to visit on our walk, Nanzen-ji Temple. Instead, we just took a taxi to Kiyomizu, where we planned to eat at one of the shops on the walk up towards the temple.

While we were both hungry, none of the places we passed actually appealed to us, though, so when we got to the temple we split up, with Justin going into the temple complex to get the photos he got yesterday (but this time in sunshine), and Crystal shopping for porcelain stuff at the shops. She'd looked the night before to see where in town had the best stuff and best prices in Kyoto for this sort of thing, and was a little surprised it was up near Kiyomizu. But it worked out well, and we met up again about 45 minutes later, at 4:15. We walked down towards Gion, on a street Saiko had mentioned to the group of us the day before. It had more shops, similar to the other street leading up to Kiyomizu. We passed Rokudo Chinno-ji Temple on the way down the hill. Just as we were getting into Gion we saw a small shop and decided to get a little bit of food to tide us over until dinner. It wasn't great, but it hit the spot.

In Gion, we walked west towards Kennin-ji Temple, then north up Hanamikoji Dori, as these were supposedly the two main drags for spotting geishas. With all the young women out wearing kimonos, we weren't sure how we'd know if we saw a geisha. Crystal said they'd probably take smaller steps, and be more adept at walking in sandals. We also figured they wouldn't have selfie sticks or be checking instagram either. We think we saw somewhere between 1 and 4 as we walked around Gion, but it was 5pm on a weekend, so who really knows. We walked across the river at Sanjo Street and went through the mall one last time, then headed west down a third street (Rokkaku Dori, one block south of Sanjo) back to the hotel. We got back around 6pm, and invited Dewey and Clarita down to happy hour at The Library. We tried to guess how much we'd walked that day, and our best guess was about 15 miles. We figured we'd earned a big dinner.

We decided to try Spice Chamber for dinner, as it was just a few blocks away. We walked straight to where it was supposed to be, but couldn't find a storefront. We went in one restaurant [that in hindsight was literally around the corner], and they'd never heard of Spice Chamber - sure. Then we did find the storefront, but they were closed. So we walked around a few blocks until we found something that looked interesting and had a fair amount of patrons. We settled on Sekaiya, which offered an interesting mix of food, good drinks, and enthusiastic staff. We split, among other things, a Margherita pizza, sashimi, Japanese green curry, chicken curry, and lychee soda cocktail. We doubt we would have picked this place off of Yelp or something similar, but we're glad we went - plus we ended up getting some curry in the process. Back at the hotel, the Library wasn't closed yet, so we decided to get a nightcap before heading off to sleep.