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See as much as we can or save the energy. A traveler’s dilemma. Being too ambitious may result in subjective memories and false conclusions, like my first sight recollection of a short trip to Arashiyama. Fortunately, while travelling I have a habit of making many photos. Sometimes too many. Making too many shots and keeping the originals may be of use to confirm or deny first sight recollections.

A couple of days ago, I was going through a post by a fellow blogger I think from the US, who recalled his trip to Arashiyama, a bamboo forest grove in the vicinity of Kyoto. He used the word magic to describe this place. But my recollection was different. When thinking of a bamboo forest I had in mind a Chinese film ‘House of the flying daggers’. Some of the scenes in the film took place deep inside a bamboo forest. As it was about fighters, who were throwing daggers in a combat, the silence and the sound of the bamboo trees moving in the wind was of importance. So my imagination brought me to a big bamboo forest, where we were supposed to spend two or three hours, walk a long path and listen to trees making sounds in the wind. JMA_Arashiyama_004To my disappointment the bamboo grove in Arashiyama was something like 250 square meters small with one or two paths in the middle. And it was it. We needed a long one and half hour to get there climbing a forest hill with all other possible kinds of trees, but not bamboos. As we reached bamboo trees, we stayed on spot for half hour or so to quickly leave heading to the Himeji castle (>>>). No, there was no magic in it at all. … And the heat was unbearable.

Now I look at the few original photos I made, not too many for my usual standard, and ask myself were these my expectations or was there something else that went wrong in Arashiyama. Why somebody is talking magic and I think just the opposite. Having many shots of the whole pathway with the exact timing I compared them with a map and possible routes. Google says that we would have needed less than an hour to get from Kyoto central station to the grove with not more than twenty minutes of walk. I am sure we left our Kyoto house shortly after eight am. We descended the train around nine. But instead twenty minutes way we took a round walk partially up a hill for around one hour and a half, already in the morning heat. Quite an ambitious plan. And, one or two of us wanted to drink coffee on the way that cost us additional time. As we reached the bamboo forest, it was half eleven. There were already many people in the grove. And already tired basically for no reason we clashed into a dispute over keeping peoples’ privacy while making shots. Too late, tired of a round way and angry because of the dispute. Not the best way to begin a day, needles to say to contemplate nature. 

Fortunately, I photographed the place. The Arashiyama experience through a camera lens looks great. No prejudice. Just magical views.

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What we did was a typical traveler’s mistake – wrong planning. On a long journey to a far country, with daily temperatures exceeding 30 degree Celsius one should take the shortest ways possible to reach planned destinations and plan rest time accordingly. The fellow blogger I mentioned did this the right way. Woke up in the morning, took the straight way and was there probably around eight or nine starting his morning in the bamboo grove of Arashiyama. A magical morning. Even if crossing the forest there and back is an experience of half an hour at the most. True, Arashiyama bamboo grove is small. It is not a deep forest as we would imagine it. But still it is worth seeing. To provide for right conditions, it depends only on us.

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