Late Friday afternoon I had a friend show me how to board the Shinkansen 🚄. It wasn’t much different than boarding one of the regular trains. However, it was much more relaxed and spacious. So I bought a beer and enjoyed the 2 hour trip to Kyoto.
Japanese trains are unbelievably punctual; this trip was about 2 hours and 21 minutes to Kyoto and the train arrived at the printed ticket time, exactly to the minute. Arriving in Kyoto at 12:14 I boarded one last train then left the station for my Airbnb room. It was a quaint room. I quickly fell asleep.
The next morning I woke up very early and headed to the Fushimi Inari-taisha with a bottle of water and my camera.
Walking to the many torii was about a 6.5 mile trek from my room. Lining the walkway were numerous food vendors cooking Yakitori and other delicious eatables.
This is the temple’s Rōmon Gate.
In front of many temples are hand washing stations. These serve to purify you before entering the shrine.
The shrines’s main building the Honden.
This woman is trying an Omikuji. This is a type of fortune telling that involves shaking a metal cylinder filled with little sticks. Each stick has a kanji number matching to a fortune. Drawing a bad fortune is more likely than a good one.
Walking past the main temple the seemingly never ending torii appear.
Fushimi Inari Shrine is famous for it’s 10,000 gates but really there are over 32,000 gates and sub-gates called torii in Japanese. – John Daub
It was difficult to get people-less photos, so I kept walking.
I walked for a very long time.
According to my iphone I walked 29336 steps which is approximately 14 miles. The walk was very relaxing but in direct protest to my calves I hopped onto the bus and made my way to the Kiyomizu-dera.
Hopping off the bus I wandered around trying to find the entrance to the temple. Not believing Google Maps I took a wrong turn and ended up in a graveyard. The graves were very interesting and of course this lead me to Wikipedia to learn about Japanese funeral customs. The majority of Japanese are cremated after a funeral ceremony. The relatives then pick out the bones from the ashes and place the bones in an urn. The urn is then placed in the graves.
After backtracking I was finally on the right path and came upon a Niōmon.
The niōmon is the Japanese name of a Buddhist temple gate guarded by two wooden warriors called Niō. – Wikipedia
There was a school photo being taken so I had to snap a picture.
Walking up to the main shrine I passed a girl wearing the traditional Kimono. According to Wikipedia kimono disappointingly means a “thing to wear”.
The shrine has a veranda that was built in 1633 without any nails. Wikipedia has an interesting anecdote with a bizarrely precise statistic:
The popular expression “to jump off the stage at Kiyomizu” is the Japanese equivalent of the English expression “to take the plunge”. This refers to an Edo period tradition that held that, if one were to survive a 13m jump from the stage, one’s wish would be granted. 234 jumps were recorded in the Edo period and, of those, 85.4% survived. The practice is now prohibited. – Wikipedia
Below the veranda is the Otowa-no-taki waterfall. You can wait in line and drink from one of the falling streams for: Health, Longevity, or Wisdom.
After walking back into town I decided to stop and get some food (at this point I was pretty good at eating with chopsticks):
The food was delicious and sitting was so relaxing and happy, but I had to keep going. So I left the restaurant and headed for Nijō Castle. Upon arrival it started to rain. I don’t have any pictures from inside; photography was not allowed . However, there is an interesting feature built into the floorboards: Nightingale floors. These floors were built to sound like birds squeaking when stepped on. This security feature was to protect the occupants from intruders.
After touring the inside I again decided to relax and have some matcha ice cream. It tasted very strange at first but I quickly grew to like it’s savory taste.
There was one more stop on my list the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. So for the second to last time I hopped on a train and made my way. Arriving in Arashiyama I decided to make a quick stop at the Monkey Park, but that turned into a 2 hour walk up a mountain to a closed park. I did get to see a very cool hotel on the river, and a very nice view of the fog from the rain.
So after a painful, blistery walk back I made my way into the bamboo forest.
It was a very relaxing stroll after such an eventful day.
I returned to my apartment and promptly fell asleep.