Friday, 7 July 2017

Japan Tour (3-11 May 2017), Day 6 : Kyotoyawatakizu Bike Path

We hardly see more than 20 cyclists passing us on this 45km route
Breakfast at Ryokan Yamazaki. You can try squeezing more coffee out of them but nothing more than that!!!
Ryokan Yamazaki
Photo bombed at Kinkaku Ji Temple
Disrespectful act in the House of Gods, Ninna Ji Temple!
Dabbing at Togetsukyo Bridge
Road motivate us
Flowers to kill boredom
With river comes lots of bridges
Katsura river and its tributaries
Some homes with its back to the river
Note the penguin pole stand
Lush bamboo forest
Children's playground
Children's playground
Amazing mother, riding with child and baby carriers
Note the pole barriers to stop vehicles from passing through
Dabbing over a field of wild flowers
Open burning in the background
Passing yet another small town
Can anyone tell me what are these?
Typical modern toilets equipped with seat warmer, bidet and a recording of gushing water to muffle the sound of your own waterfall!!!

Waking up in Ryokan Yamazaki is as tough as 88 House, if not tougher! After a whole night in horizontal position, the body is outright stiff! Sleeping on the futons with pillows half the size of a normal one, they were made worse with bean stuffings! A pillow fight could very well render a victim comatose!!!

Getting off the tatami was another challenge when you are groggy. There's no such thing as sliding off the bed....there are no beds! As for air-conditioning, most Ryokans are traditional homes, with shoji that allows air to seep into the room. BRrrrrrr!!!!!

Shared toilets are another sensitive issue. While considerate persons wipe down the toilets, others leave you with some ugly sights!! Brace yourself when you lift up the lid!!!

Further toilet problems are the lack of bidets; in both 88 House and Ryokan Yamazaki! We are brought up the Asian way!! Paper is simply NOT enough!!!

Fearing for the worst, we pre-ordered our breakfast the night before. We had a choice between a Japanese or an English breakfast. Not necessary to spell out our choice, we were all served 2 slices of bread with jam & butter, eggs and tea/coffee! Nothing more, nothing less for 550 Yen!!! 

View of The Gateway from the inner court
Palace Gardens
Heading out for Kinkaku Ji, the Golden Temple, we chanced upon Ninna Ji, another temple listed under the Unesco World Heritage Sites. Its magnificent Gateway called out to us as we passed by. Also known as Omura Imperial Palace, this temple has seen many royal blood serving as abbots.

The roof with living organism
Bernie's candle of hope

Further down the road from Ninna Ji, is Kinkaku Ji Temple, a popular temple amongst tourists and devotees. As far as a few hundred meters before arrival, we had begun weaving through school going children in plainclothes. We learnt later, they were attending a field trip to the said temple.

Half an hour before opening hours, a long queue had begun outside the gates. When they finally led us in, we joined the rush to the ticket booths before going through the inner gardens to see the famous pavilion gilded in gold leaf! Standing only 3 stories high, over a lake, it was disappointingly small. Claudine's disappointment continued as she followed a path through the gardens, souvenier shops, a bamboo house with a living roof and finally a small altar for praying. The tour did no peak at all!

Retrieving our bikes from the parking area, we continued on to Arashimaya bamboo forest. As a huge crowd was already visible on the streets, we pushed on to Togetsukyo bridge, a magnificent bridge across the Katsura River. This river is wide but quite shallow during spring time. While dams were built, a flowing canal on one side allows passage for fishes to spawn upstream.

Crossing over, we witnessed the painstaking efforts to upkeep the bridge. Even spiders have a hard life here as a keeper sweeps all webs spun on the rail guard. In fact, even though Togetsukyo is long and grand, there were many other smaller bridges across the waterways of Katsura river.

Just a little beyond Togetsukyo bridge was the Kyotoyawatakizu bike path. Specially dedicated to cyclists, this bike path ran mainly along the river and totally away from motorways.

We were all roaring to start our journey to Nara when VT cautioned the possible lack of food and support along the way. Taking one glance of the quiet bike path, we all solemnly agreed to backtrack for supplies.

Convenience stores were becoming our source of sustenance. By Day 6, we could tell Lawson's coffee is better than 7 Eleven's whilst the former's onigiri could not match the latter's! Only Family Mart and Lawson supplies the same brand of cream puffs, which are to die for!

Back on the bike path and loaded with food supplies from Lawson, we began our journey. It was a boring 45 km route along the river with very little tree covers. After awhile, we could not bother with the river views anymore. Most of the time, we were passing by grasslands, farms, bamboo forests and industrial areas. Once in awhile, we passed homes.

Our first stop near a recreation park. Behind us, a group were playing ball while a few others were starting a barbecue under a bridge. From here on, we noticed a lot of dried up earthworms the size of buffalo leeches
While Bernie's and Suzie's bike chains were taking turns to drop, VT's and Claudine's bike were taking turns to fall when parked for photo shoot!

Lunch stop at 31.1km
Note the river level!
The only cover on this route is under bridges
Small settlements by the river
We learned to keep ourselves entertained. We stopped for lunch under a bridge, we made stupid videos that nobody will watch, we even took photos lying on the path to emphasize the lack of human contact!

Road markers was something we looked forward to seeing. It kept us on track and the reducing numbers motivated us.

Aerial view from viewing deck
Things start to pick up at Yawata. Where the 3 rivers of Katsuragawa, Kizugawa and Ujigawa converged, a sanctuary for cyclists stood. A proper bike stand was provided for parking together with a beautiful hall, toilets, a water fountain and an observation tower. As this was a midway point, we saw more riders than before.

A little further down from the biker's sanctuary, the landscapes were decorated with carp streamers not brought down from May 6, a Children's Day and the last day of Japan's Golden Week. It is a tradition to fly these koinobori or wind socks in honor of children, with hopes of a good future and that they will grow up healthy and strong.

After a snack and a smile, we snoozed!
Farm with bamboo forest in the background
Water gates
As our monotony continued, VT pulled wild flowers for his wife as he passes the countryside. When it became too dull, even a passing train could excite us. Watergates became an interest for photography and parks was a good excuse to take a 10 minutes nap.

The train crossing just before our snooze time
The ride was mostly on flats but strong headwinds and endless barren landscapes was a killjoy. Bernie who had to answer the short call of nature could not control the steady stream, as the wind sent ripples to the flow. His redemption came when he spotted a farmer on the same act which sent Claudine reeling with laughter!

Note the red bridge in the background
Note the pervert!
Approaching Nara, more people were spotted on the bike path. Some were cyclists while some were enjoying a nature walk. Amongst them was a perverted jogger with shorts pulled so high, he was revealing both the frontal bulge and his butt cheeks!

Leaving our pervert, we later met up with a most respectable man. Tanigawa, at aged 86, rides 60 km everyday to maintain a healthy life. The tell tale signs of his flip cover handphone convinced us of a man who could no longer keep up with the rapid change in technology!

Turning off Kizu, we still had a short ride to Nara. We took a break at yet another Lawson, this time, trying out their Yakitori's. When we were satisfied, we made our way into the city, finally arriving at our hotel.

That night, we dined at Coco Curry House before exploring the shopping areas of Nara. It is easy to identify the tourist areas by the decorative streetlights. But Japanese, call in early as we witnessed, one by one, all the shops packed up for the day from as early as 8pm! 

Do not be deceived by the nice lobby...
...and the beautiful restaurant...
...because the rooms are tiny and the beds too!
However, Hotel Fujita Nara has the customer's needs in mind!
Beer and nuts on every stairwell to drown our fears! Our room comes with a premium view of the cemetery below!!!

Photo credit :
1. Suzie
2. Bernie

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