Kyoto is awesome because it didn't get bombed during WWII, so there are still lots of old historical buildings and beautiful temples and all that. I got to see a bunch of them when I visited Japan with my Dad in middle school, so while I think they're nifty, I didn't have a huge List Of Things To See this time around.
First, we went to Toei Movie Land. Or Toei Uzumasa Eigamura. Or Kyoto Studio Park. Or any number of other variations on the name when it's translated into English, which makes it slightly trickier to get there, but not heinously so. Toei Movie Land is kind of a combo museum and mini theme park, but it's also a working film set, and they actually shoot movies there. They were filming a big fight scene in a samurai-era village when we were there, and every so often guys would run around with paper fans out, asking everyone to be quiet. Jerry and I went through the haunted house, which was mostly filled with poor lighting and not-very-realistic, non-scary scenes of historical carnage... which only served to make it that much more effective when an actor came banging through a hidden door at you.
After that, we split the party, because Robb was having a bad back day and would not have been able to do much uphill, and he was excited to see the Golden Pavillion. So we sent him & Greg off to do that, while Jerry and I climbed a mountain to see...
See, off on the west end of Kyoto, up on the top of a hill, is Arashiyama Monkey Park. Where the monkeys live. And you can feed them! We got there close to closing time, so we had to hustle a bit up the hill, and after several days of walking, it kinda made my legs want to die. But we got up there! And then there were monkeys.
They're Japanese macaques, also known as snow monkeys. Lots of signs warn you, quite sternly, not to look the monkeys in the eye and not to show them food. If a monkey is lying in the path, keep walking! They get to just roam around free on the mountaintop; humans get to hang out inside the visitor building (which is all fenced in) and watch. And feed them treats! 100 yen a bag for apples, peanuts, or chestnuts. The monkeys know quite well what's going on, so after you buy your treats, there will be plenty of them hanging on the fenced-over windows waiting for you to hand them munchies.
It was AWESOME. Especially cool were the baby monkeys. At one point three of them were piled up on top of one another, making adorable little-monkey hooting noises. We hung out until we were informed that they were closing, and then we got a few minutes to look at Kyoto from above. One of the keepers took our picture, too!
Back down the hill and over the bridge to the end of the tramway we went, and then, since it was literally right there, we decided to see what we could see of Tenryuji temple. It was closed, technically, but we wandered quietly in the back way and looked at stuff without going in. (We saw other folks doing the same, so I didn't feel so guilty.) It was very pretty. We didn't get to see the super-picturesque vistas, but it's not the right season for them anyway, so that was fine.
And then we exchanged texts with the guys and determined that it was time to go rendezvous and head back to Hirakata. Jerry & I had some transit fail on the way: we got off the tram two stops early, so we walked the rest of the way to the subway station, and then waited a bit before realizing that we were meeting at the train station, not the subway, but we eventually got back together and all was well. And we didn't accidentally get on the express that costs $5-extra like we did on the way to Nara, so there's that.
We had highly authentic and mostly mysterious sushi for dinner, and then we went home. And it was excellent.