This story started as it should be with all good stories. We got lost.
We missed our stop, but were soon spellbound, our breaths overwhelmed in unison by the hues of the turquoise river.
We stumbled in the middle of nowhere, to a place covered in clover. This is my ideal way of travelling; to follow where the road leads. Finally the river stopped pretending and showed its true colors. Boats were passing through from time to time and then it became quiet again. The road was serpentine and looked narrow enough; I couldn’t imagine how two cars could pass each other.
Wandering through the forest, we heard a bell ringing. Just like that, in this silence. A train passed, or so we thought, red and wooden. Surprised, we didn't believe our eyes, it didn’t look like the polished train we've arrived on earlier. But remembering that we were standing next to a narrow-gauge railway, alongside a cliff with panoramic views of the river lined with red maples, it fits perfectly. Naturally, after this, it was impossible to just turn around and take the train home.
Having strayed just a little, so as to kindle interest, but still not miss our path entirely, we found a Bridge-Leading-To-Something-Overgrown. Crossing to the other side, we climbed onto a platform bathed in sunlight. It was watched by a party of hatted Tanuki. The train was not long in coming. Maple and Cherry trees were planted along the road so passengers can admire red leaves or cherry blossoms at the same time. Seeing cherry blossoms blooming in the middle of October is a rare occurrence, thought to be brought about by a severe typhoon earlier.
At the railway station we discovered that, by a miracle, there were two tickets to take us back home; miraculously, because, as we later found out, they were usually sold out a month before. Of course we could have left Kameoka another way, but there is a big difference between standing and sitting next to the window, right? The train brought us to the Arashiyama, the stop we missed in the morning.
Just twenty minutes by rail west of Kyoto is Arashiyama, a town of surprising beauty despite its closeness to the urban heart of Kansai’s biggest cities. Literally “Storm Mountain”, Arashiyama on most days shows a more gentle face, where you can take a stroll in the bamboo groves or fossick in one of its many handicraft and curio stores.
The train is much quicker way to get here than the bus, with Japan Rail Pass holders able to use their pass to reach here with just one transfer from Tokyo, Osaka or Fukuoka.
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