Rapids and Bamboo

Today, we had a lovely float down the Hoguzawa River, then explored a kimono forest and a bamboo forest.
It was our first day of hiccups in navigation. I’m not counting our first day in Tokyo when we had to adjust because of a closed train line. Today we thought we could take a train, and when we went to board all seats were reserved. The next train, 12 minutes later, was a local and we were fine. This meant we’d catch the 11:30 boat, not our intended 10 am boat. No matter.

We started just a short walk from the Kameoka Station, having taken the local train from Kyoto. The tour started in 1896, though I don’t think they have used fibreglass boats since the beginning. The boat was canoe-like — long and thin with padded benches to sit on. We had three crew and 10 guests. There was a Japanese woman in front of us with two 20ish Australian girls. She translated a lot for them, and included us in the commentary.

The riverboats were once used for cargo, though that use is long gone. Propulsion was manual. In the bow, one boatman pushed with a long bamboo pole and another worked a long wood oar. The boatman in the back steered with a rudder.
Most of the river was shallow and placid. Every now and then we’d shoot some rapids (probably class one; enough to notice but not enough to deter).

In the Spring and Fall the route must be spectacular. Cherry trees line the banks in several spots. In the heart of winter, we saw a heron, several cormorants and a variety of ducks. I’m not an expert, though I’m pretty sure we saw some sandpipers and some wee birds that were either finches or canaries. Near the end, some monkeys followed our path along the tree line of the port shore.

After a pleasant two hours, we arrived at the tourist town of Arishiyama. This town has a UNESCO World Heritage Site shrine as well as a Kimono Forest and a significant bamboo forest.

The Kimono Forest was made up of lucite pillars, about two meters high, with kimono fabric inside. At night, the pillars are lit from within. Some fabrics are repeated, though not many.

A few blocks down the road is the bamboo forest, which seems to be the main attraction. It was enjoyed by visitors from Japan and abroad. I was surprised to see many Japanese visitors in traditional dress. The bamboo in the forest is a very tall variety, with some stalks green and others greyed by age.

When we got back to Kyoto, I chose not to go to the Kiyomizu Temple with Anita. I have a cough that persists when I’m not moving. I got about two hours of sleep last night. I was fine while we were walking around, and as soon as we started to wait for the train, I started up again. It’s annoying.

By returning to the hotel, I missed the rain. Phew.