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Day 8: Arashiyama, Kurama

04.12.2016

Despite the late night, the sake and the full cake-belly, I managed to wake up at around 5am the next morning. I had begun to develop a bit of a cough so I was drinking this lemon tea that had something close to the equivalent of 30 lemons but still tasted delicious. Since arriving in Japan, I had a moment to myself to watch the sun rise over Kyoto whilst sitting in a magnificent robe by the window. With everyone still asleep, I was able to squeeze some writing in before it was time to get ready for the day.

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Once everyone was showered, dressed and fed, we headed to Arashiyama for the Monkey Park and Bamboo Forest. The view was spectacular, and there were quite a lot of people given how early it was in the day.

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Upon entering the Monkey Park, we were told to hide all of our belongings because the monkeys had a tendency to be overly curious and take things that weren’t theirs. So with our passports and phones stowed away, we began the unexpected uphill climb to the clearing where the monkeys were.

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The scenery itself was beautiful, and the mountainous air coupled with the steel climb really tested my physical abilities. After a good trek, we reached the clearing and were greeted by monkeys grooming each other.

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The view from the top was gorgeous, and I had to divide my time wisely to get enough photos of the view and of the monkeys.

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We were allowed to feed them peanuts and bananas from inside a cage, and one monkey was so ravenous he grabbed my finger and I honestly felt like he was going to pull it off! It was loads of fun and I wished I could’ve brought my siblings there because the kids all around me were giggling and having so much fun.

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This is the monkey that grabbed my finger! So impatient for food.

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At one point we heard this really loud music coming out of the speakers, and pretty soon there were monkeys running around all around us to sit in the middle of the clearing. It reminds me of kindergarten when the school bell rang and all the kids ran to line up before their teacher came. We soon found out that it was feeding time and we all stayed a safe distance away while the monkeys enjoyed their dinner.

We then took a mini-trek to the Bamboo Forest which was absolutely breathtaking!

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The bamboo rose so high that most of the light was blocked out. Despite the pathway being filled with people, it was peaceful and gorgeous.

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When we came out the other end, we were met with lanes of shops and stalls were we found fresh taiyaki! It’s essentially a cake or pastry type snack shaped like a fish. We tried the red bean, matcha and vanilla custard ones and it was divine. If i could go back there just for this taiyaki, I would.

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From there, we took a bus to the Kurama Onsen. We had a bit of an ordeal trying to find G’s wallet after he left it on the bus. The lady at the onsen was so lovely, and despite the language barrier, she helped us find the right bus, and eventually the wallet.

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The hot springs were beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. It was quite chilly, and it was raining while we were in the springs, but it was so tranquil and I felt so completely at peace. With the mountain air and the hot water, I was more relaxed than I had ever been before.

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As far as I know, you’re not allowed to enter the onsen if you have any tattoos. I’m not sure whether this is true for all onsens, but this is the reason why I haven’t gotten a tattoo. My plan was to get one after going to the onsen, but after that experience, I feel more inclined to put off getting a tattoo until I can go again. Now I’m not so sure I’ll ever get a tattoo at this rate!

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All in all, it was a pretty packed day – definitely one of my favourites so far.

-SKC.

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