Leaf season is slowly creeping up as beautiful flares of vermilion, amber and carmine leaves make their way onto the scene. While it’s definitely eye-popping amidst the deep, vibrant greens of Kyoto, there are still only pockets of changing leaves. Seeing as it’s snowing back home, I’m sure you can see where that’s a bit off-putting . . . so today we went to a much more fall-y place. Ohara, a lovely part of Kyoto in the northern reach of the prefecture, was the day trip in honor of the holiday I have from courses. I’d read about it somewhere for it’s beautiful flowers, and though it obviously isn’t the time for that I still wanted to go. So off we went (with okaa-san looking stylish as heck, I don’t know how she does it) to see some lovely leaves (happa) and otera.
First impressions: yuzu and hydrangeas. But mainly yuzu. Oh hot damn are there so many of these little fruits scattered around the area! Those that aren’t dangling wildly from the trees overhead are carelessly plopped down on tables spanning the walk from the start of Ohara’s tourist trap right up until the otera doors shut that all out. It was fantastic. There were oodles of shops crammed happily along the roadside, but I only took a few pictures here.
We went into Sanzen-in, a large temple area with gorgeous walking paths and a fair number of smaller temples within. It was all gorgeous, with the sunlight streaming in perfectly to capture the various trees, statues, leaves and whatever else could benefit. There was the main temple, where I got a goshuincho and an autumnal omamori for good fortune and longevity. When we walked out of that we looped right ahead to Ojo Gokurakuin, the oldest building on the temple grounds that hasn’t been rebuilt since the early 1100s. There was a funny priest who was lecturing about the building and Buddha there, and though I couldn’t understand more than half of what he was saying I could more than appreciate his boisterous aura. He had the crowd in cahoots before we even got there and kept it going ’til he was through. Nicely done sir. Okaa-san bought a specific zodiac (uma) omamori there before we were okay to wander out through the rest of the grounds. Which we did, and there was a lovely small otera with an impressive woman standing, with lovely elaborate flags decorating the pillars – the likes of which I hadn’t seen before. The strong presence of the temple and the energy of the statue was too rich, so I got another goshuin there as well as another omamori. I really loved this place and charm because it was all toned to this deep, vibrant orange that has a great feel to it. From there we wandered back a bit more to the straight nature of the place, where there was a slight (overgrown) river and the adorable jizo popping up everywhere.
After we toured the entirety of Sanzen-in, we went and explored another smaller temple, Hosen-in, boasting an ancient pine tree over 700 years old and cool ceiling tiles. And by cool I mean that they were once the floorboards of Fushimi-jo and have stains from where samurai committed seppuku and bled out. Exciting, no? We sat there for a while with matcha before our legs hurt and we decided to split.
We left the area after that, headed east over to Shiga-ken to view the beautiful Lake Biwako. We pulled off to this cute ‘lil Hawaiian shack-style joint, R Cafe, where they had loco moco, P-O-G and more (I was sooo excited, I think I frightened okaa-san a bit!). We had just eaten, unfortunately, otherwise we would’ve gotten loco mocos and dreams would have come true. Alas, we got crèpes instead and ate them at a table on the water, which was just as good. We intended on splitting them but alas, they wrap crèpes in a way that’s more than a bit hard to handle so we ended up with one flavor each – mango for me and matcha azuki for okaa-san. Mhmmmm. She had a tea while I had my beloved P-O-G, and we both sat trembling, cold but content, by the lake. It’s the largest lake in Japan, which is hella rad, and just plain beautiful. I absolutely adore being by the water, and despite how perfectly central my location is with okaa-san and otou-san it’s also surrounded by mountains, not water. Which is a fine trade-off since I love both, but I really do miss the water, which made this perfect.
When we finally drove outta there we saw a goat. Just a random-ass goat standing in a patch of grass no more than 50 meters out from the lake. The heck? I shouted enthusiastically about it, mostly out of befuddlement, only for okaa-san to also be super shocked at this weird little guy. Looks like goats near Biwako are a first for both of us.
We proceeded to drive and see okaa-san’s old house (she used to live in Shiga-ken, wahoo), where we stopped for her to call a friend. I didn’t quite pick up what she put down, but I think it was an old neighbor she was ready to drop in on. This neighbor, however, was by our house, literally the bus stop just 5 minutes away from us. This is the kind of crap that happens to my Poppyboy, the whole “look out your window, tada!” deal only for it to bust. Funny coincidences.
We got home to take a half hour break before gearing up to Indian food, where I got naan bigger than my face. I’m for real, like I could carve eye holes and wear that thing and still have extra. It was crazy! Only off-putting part was that despite speaking to the server in Japanese, and obviously talking to okaa-san in Japanese before that, the guy kept going with simple English for me? I mean, nice and thanks, but it’s obviously not uber comfortable for you and I can speak Japanese (which I did, exclusively) so . . . let’s do that? Maybe he heard my thoughts because now I have crazy stomach pains and this hasn’t happened before. Not this bad. I don’t know, I’m finishing up homework and tuckering in now so I’m just hoping to wake up without crazy cramps tomorrow. ‘Til then!