Ashayamira & the Bamboo Walk

We got a slow start on our second day, partly because of the time difference, but also just the fatigue.  After some reading of books, discussion, and suggestions from the concierge, we decided to explore a totally different part of Kyoto called Ashayamira – all the way on the West side of the city, and from there head to a series of temples that, as a group, form the foundation for a local pilgrimage walk.  Since we had a long way to go and we were getting a late start, we also decided to brave Japan’s public transportation system.  Fortunately, in spite of some nervousness, Inga’s experiences with another friend the night before meant that she was able to help us fumble our way through the purchase of tickets and selection of the right track & train.
For the first leg of our journey, we traveled from subway to tram with the locals.  However, once we arrived in Ashayamira, we were disappointed to find that it was a sort of run-down tourist trap.  We walked around for a bit, and finally made our way to the temple and garden that marked the beginning of the Bamboo Walk that had drawn us to the area.
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From there we walked through some beautiful landscape gardens, where we enjoyed the undulating moss, rocks, and other plantings.  We saw gardeners sweeping with straw brooms, and others sitting in the shade, cleaning the moss by hand.  We finally made it to the Bamboo Walk and it *was* beautiful.  I have never seen so much bamboo, and it was unbelievably tall.  The speckled light made it’s way down to light our way, and we enjoyed a peaceful stroll.
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 But, it was only about a half a mile long!  In spite of the beautiful surroundings, I definitely felt that I had been suckered into a well-marketed tourist trap.  Here’s what it looks like most of the time:
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On our way out, we spotted this area.  These little papers tied to the horizontal string are wishes (or prayers).  They’re placed here with the expectation that they’ll eventually disintegrate or fly away.  I thought it was beautiful!
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We felt like the day was rapidly slipping away from us, so we headed back to the tram and on to the next leg of our adventures …

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