“Domo arigato,” I say to the taxi driver who smiles, bows twice and says “Hai. Hai.” I wheel my bag along a pathway by the Ooi river just over the Togetsukyo bridge heaving with crowds of tourists who clot in Kyoto’s Arashiyama district. Some are in rent-a-kimino taking selfies, others are in school uniform giggling and smiling and then there’s the occasional western tourist biting into a Miffy shaped donut.
This side of the bridge is much quieter. My quest is to find the private boat ramp for the Hoshinoya Kyoto. I see the sign just ahead written in English and Japanese and stop and breathe a sigh of relief. ‘No. No. This way,’ says a Japanese man with a camera hung around his neck gesturing downstream. I smile. Perhaps I should have donned a pair of Blahniks and a flowy Camilla for this journey. “You have to be a very special Japanese person to stay at the Hoshinoya,” my taxi driver confided before he dropped me off.