First off, let me just say we LOVE Japan. I was excited to visit, but didn't have high expectations for this stretch of our trip. Now that we have been here for two weeks I can't find one single negative thing to say about Japan. The people are amazing; so warm and friendly. The food is delicious and healthy; a little unusual at times, but overall very good. The culture is fascinating; so disciplined and pure.
Today was our second to last nice day for the remainder of our stay, so we decided it was time to explore Kyoto's western area. The temples and gardens are much larger, as the western area is known for its more rural feel. We decided our first stop would be Daikaku-Ji Temple. Now that we have a lot of temples under our belt, we have a certain expectation and, unfortunately, this one did not live up to our standards. It did have an interesting Ikebana (Japanese floral arrangements) exhibition going on, so that was one redeeming factor, but that also meant loads of people.
Our next stop was Tenryu-ji Temple. We arrived a little later than we had hoped, and were one of last people allowed to enter for the day. We could instantly tell this is where we should have started the day! Lea and I quickly started snapping photos of everything we saw. They had rhododendrons, quince, and spirea all in bloom that looked nice with all the flowering cherries dotted around the gardens.
After getting kicked out of Tenryu-ji Temple, we headed to our last stop of the day, the Sagano Bamboo forest. This bamboo forest sees thousands of people every day. They come to take in the sights, but also hear the unique rustling of the bamboo. It is one of the Ministry of Environment top 100 Soundscapes of Japan. We were hoping a late day visit would mean less people, which it did! We also got to hear a slight rustling of the beautiful bamboo.
After our walk through the bamboo forest, we had dinner on our minds. We quickly learned getting a table in any restaurant on a Saturday night without a reservation is impossible. We must have tried 10-15 restaurants to no avail. We settled on an easy home cooked meal of pasta and shrimp.