This day was the 室生寺 / 長谷寺 adventure. I went to the station knowing what stops I needed to get off at, but it took awhile just to figure out who to buy my ticket from, and where in the station they were located. 京都駅 is sort of odd in that, while many of the lines are right up front, other lines require you to go up to the second floor and a ways to the south. You have to go up to a certain part of the second floor, however; it was a bit confusing. At any rate, I got my ticket and directions on where to transfer.
The first leg took me to やぎ. 室生寺 and 長谷寺 are only one stop apart; I headed for 室生寺 first, as I rememebered what that one was about (5 storeyed pagoda). I didn't remember why 長谷寺 was on my list.
I got one station short of my stop... and my train turned around! You have to transfer again to keep going, as it turns out. So I switched trains to go back the original direction, and changed trains this time. I got off at the 室生寺 stop, but the temple is about 6km away from the train station. I had about a 50-55 minute wait before the next bus, so I went to a cafe by the bus stop for lunch. Very neat and pretty! I asked for コーヒー, and she had to grind the beans and bunsen-brew it (see below). I had Italian spaghetti and there was some discussion with the cook -- not a popular dish I guess! But I liked it -- pasta, sauce, bacon, side salad. (The コーヒー was a bit bitter). The back of the menus had the bus schedule, which was convenient -- all in all, a really comfy place.
I got out of the cafe just in time for my bus. After getting off the bus, I went the wrong direction at first, and then found some signs and followed them to 室生寺. Nice, but not so much as I had hoped. Not nearly as secluded or as large as I expected, and perhaps not worth the $8 of bus fees and $6 entry fee. I got some お茶 (おみやげ) on the way back to the bus stop.
Then I caught the train to 長谷寺. No bus required; you just walk through town following the signs. 長谷寺 is truly amazing. Cherry blossoms and other blooms and a pagoda and temples... Very very scenic and lovely. Looks like an epic place even. I spent a long time there and took many pictures. Of the temples I visited, this was my favorite.
Once I left 長谷寺, I went up the long staircase of the bordering shrine, but there wasn't much at the top. The views of 長谷寺 were nice, however. After that, I noticed some trails going up the hill opposite of 長谷寺, so I followed them for some more views. I also found that the top of the hill is completely covered with antennas and a ton of wiring! Odd. No idea what they're for.
Finally, I trained back to やぎ, and got a limited express train back to 京都 -- great!, I thought. Good timing. Well, until they came through and checked tickets (which doesn't happen in town), and I found out that the express costs 870円 extra (ouch). In town, ltd. express just means faster, not spendier. Oh well, it was too late by that point, so just enjoyed the rapid return. Only two stops before returning to 京都.