Japan, April 12th - Kyoto/Arashiyama to Austin
For our last day in Japan, we visited Arashiyama, a quiet, residential suburb of Kyoto with lots of temples and parks along a river. The cherry blossoms were starting to fall, and covered the ground like snow in places. Tenryuji temple's garden was very scenic, and so were the mist (or smoke?) hovering over the river and the bamboo forest we walked through in a hillside park. The moon bridge was huge and ordinary-looking, and the richshaw tour guides were a little bit of tourism overload.
We made a few last-minute purchases here (a small ceramic vase and a final round of Japanese sweets, including sakura mochi), got lost walking through a nice residential area, then went to Kansai airport for our trip home, frantically spending our final yen on airport trinkets.
Although the cold and daily rain weren't best of travel conditions, they did mean that the tourist sites we saw were less crowded than they are at their peaks. We saw a lot of different places, and amassed an impressive stack of JR seat reservation tickets along the way. We both had a lot of fun, and this felt like a last hurrah after our round-the-world trip. And we found the key to paradise. What more could we have asked for?