Day 11 – Monkey Park, Tenryuji temple, Togestu bridge, Bamboo Forest, Yamazaki whisky distillery.

Our first stop was the Monkey Park in Arashiyama. After a pretty long march up the mountain for 20 minutes – we finally reached to top. The Japanese Macaques were all over the top and pretty well unfussed with humans – unless you had food. You had to feed them in a special hut. They knew they could get free apples and peanuts from the hut and would fight for positioning. It was awesome to see them in the flesh and interact with them. Seeing the Kyoto city skyline in the background was weird.

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The Tenryuji temple was another zen temple in Kyoto and is a world heritage site. The zen garden was different was it had a central pond with rocks arranged around it to resemble a carp sticking it’s head out of the water and a crane. The rocks were arranged in a waterfall configuration. It would have been quite peaceful if it wasn’t for all the tourists.

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Togestu bridge is apparently a famous bridge that wasn’t even the original bridge and failed to really enthuse me. It has inspired many a poet and painter.

Bamboo Forest was much shorter than expected and is actually what you think it is.

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Our last stop was the Yamazaki whisky distillery. What was most interesting about the distillery was the use of Japanese Oak (Mizunara) in addition to american oak, sherry casks and puncheon (white oak). The founder, Shinjiro Torii, was determined not to rely on imported whisky and not to be reliant on sourcing casks from overseas. The Mizunara malts were by far the best flavour at the tasting sessions – but not available to buy at the distillery! Disappointing but overall still awesome to be able to able to taste all the different local whiskies available.

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Dinner was at Roan Kikunoi with a Kaiseki course. It was up there with Ginza Kyubey. Truly spectacular dinner.

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