We can live and work for years in an area and still be completely unaware of even major features and popular travel destinations. Late September I went to Kyoto University main campus in Demachiyanagi in northern Kyoto for my yearly health examination.
Ritsuko met me there afterwards for lunch and a walk. We'd heard of a good falafel place in the area, and it's something I really miss here in Osaka. The restaurant — Falafel Garden — didn't disappoint; it did indeed serve very good falafel, and in a garden no less.
On our way back we noticed a small train station nestled in among the neighbourhood houses just next to Demachiyanagi station. It was a little sleepy and kind of old-fashioned, with a cute, comfortable-looking rail car standing at the platform. Exactly the kind of place Hayao Miyazaki would put in one of his animated films. It was Friday afternoon and we really had nothing much to do for the rest of the day, so we bought tickets and boarded the train.
Ritsuko had heard of Kibune shrine and the restaurants along the small river flowing through the mountain valley near the next to last stop on the line. The restaurants have tatami-mat seats on platforms laid right on top of the river itself. It's cool and refreshing in summer, and is apparently spectacular in autumn, with brilliant read and yellow foliage covering you above and the sound of the river water below.
The shrine itself is much like any small Shinto shrine, though the area is crammed with visitors. The location along a narrow valley makes it seem more crowded of course, but there were three or four tour buses parked downstream, and that on an off-season weekday. I can't imagine what the place is like on a weekend during the height of autumn foliage viewing season.
It was a pleasant surprise outing; it's a fun train ride, and a walk along a cool, shady mountain valley is perfect to shake off the lethargy from the late summer heat. We really should make short trips like this more often.