My 2016 Japan travelogue so far:
Osaka Day 1: Ana Crowne Plaza & Sennichimae Doguyasuji
Osaka Day 2: Osaka Station, Kuromon Market & Dotonbori
Nara Day 3: Todai-ji, Cheeky Deer & Fall Foliage
Osaka + Kyoto Day 4: Nishiki Market & Len Kyoto Kawaramachi
Kyoto Day 5: Kiyomizu-dera, Sannen-zaka & Ninen-zaka (Part 1)
Kyoto Day 5: Kōdai-ji (Part 2)
Kyoto Day 6: Autumn At Beautiful Arashiyama & Kyoto Station
Woke up at 7am and it was raining. Our first rain in Japan and it’ll be a new experience.
It was yet another instant noodles breakfast. I had tonkotsu ramen while my sis went for kitsune udon, which is our travel theme today because we’re visiting Fushimi Inari Taisha later on and it has everything to do with kitsune udon. Hehe Btw, kitsune means fox in Japan.
Tsk, my tonkotsu ramen was REALLY salty. Arghh!
We departed from the hostel at 9am. Since it was raining and we have only one umbrella for four of us, what do we do? Luckily, the hostel provides umbrellas (complimentary and of course need to return it), so we took two with us, thinking the rain will surely stop sometime soon. It was a wrong move/prediction. Two people sharing umbrella is okay but not when you’re on holiday and have to share one the whole day. What more? Especially if the umbrella holder doesn’t know how to hold the umbrella and the poor soul who shared with her got rain down occasionally. Haha Thankfully it wasn’t me. Okay… it was me for a brief moment but because I carried an extra important equipment (read: DSLR), I got to have my very own umbrella. LOL.
We walked to Kiyomizu-Gojo Station and took the Keihan Main line to Fushimi-Inari station.
As you can see from the clock at Fushimi-Inari station, the time was around 9.50am. Did ya notice a cute fox beside it? More at the right side. What about the heavily painted RED? It’s all in the Fushimi Inari Taisha theme.
A short walk later, we reached Fushimi Inari Taisha 伏見稲荷大社. The group of people gathered there is due to chōzuya (water ablution pavilion). Admission to Fushimi Inari Taisha is free.
Inari Ōkami (kami/spirit of rice) is enshrined in Fushimi Inari Taisha and foxes (kitsune) are the messengers of Inari. Since the olden times, people have come here to pray for good harvest, agriculture, business prosperity and others (like praying for health, safety). There are many Inari shrines all over Japan. Fushimi Inari Taisha is the head shrine and is the most famous of all. For tourist, it’s most probably because of the thousands of vermilion red torii (gates).
Romon 楼門 (main gate). It’s said that Toyotomi Hideyoshi built it. Still remember who he was? Read it here . There are two kitsune guarding the gate, one holding a key and another one a holy ball.
Gai-haiden 外拝殿 (outer hall of worship).
Nai-haiden 内拝殿 (inner hall of worship). The main shrine (honden) is located at the rear of this building.
Despite the rain and cold weather, I braved the long queue (the longest one of all) and got my fourth goshuin (seal) @ 300 yen. Yipee! Sorry I had to edit the priest’s upper portion. He’s the youngest and handsomest priest to made a mark on my goshuin-chō (seal book). Haha
Cute, wet mini torii. They are called ema 絵馬, wooden plaques where you write your wishes or prayers.
Since it was raining, we didn’t explore much except to our main agenda… to see the torii path.
The start of the trail to Inariyama (Inari mountain) summit is this giant vermilion red torii (gate). Can you spot the two foxes (kitsune) on the left and right of the torii?
Here’s a much better view. One is holding a scroll in his mouth (left) and another is holding a holy ball in his mouth (right).
Here’s one holding a key.
Beautiful maple leaves on a vermilion bridge during rain.
A mini waterfall (blur) in autumn paradise.
If you’re like majority of the crowds, you would have start at the main torii path where it branches into two. Well, we started at another path mid way (along a stream) because despite the rain, there were so many people on the main one.
Rows of torii (traditional Japanese gate).
Why are there so many (thousands!) torii at Fushimi Inari Taisha? The torii are donated by an individual or business (usually big organization) to offer gratitude for their successful business or wish. The engraved writings on the torii are the names of the individual/business and date. And these torii are not cheap btw. Prices start at 400,000 yen for a small one and over a million yen for the largest one. I’ve seen those mini ones (around the size of the ema) along the path too.
The reason the torii are painted in vermilion (red) is to signify the plentiful harvest given by Inari Ōkami.
Vermilion torii path in Fushimi Inari Taisha. This is the best photo I have because there isn’t much good lighting on a grey cloudy day.
In total, we spent around an hour and the half there, under the raining spell. At times, it was so cold and we shivered so badly.
On the path to/from Fushimi-Inari station, there are several food stalls.
We bought this mitarashi dango みたらし団子 (dango coated in sweet soy sauce glaze) at one of the stalls.
Then we stopped by at the nearby restaurant called Inafuku for a delicious meal of kitsune udon, a must-have when visiting the shrine. Click the link to read all about it.
The road (near Fushimi-Inari station) to Fushimi Inari Taisha.
Stopped by this shop along the road above called Hōgyokudō 宝玉堂.
Bought some rice crackers from them. There’s one here that can numb your tongue!
Made a last stop at Surugaya 駿河屋支店 when we spotted more rice crackers. This shop is just beside Fushimi-Inari station.
We then took the Keihan line to Gion-Shijo station.
Shijo dori where its lined with souvenir shops and restaurants.
Thankfully the shops area are covered… making walking and shopping easier under the wet condition.
Walking to the end of the Shijo dori is Yasaka Shrine 八坂神社. This is Nishi-romon 西楼門 (west gate). Although majestic looking, it’s not the main gate of the shrine. Admission is free to Yasaka Shrine.
Rainy Day At Yasaka Shrine 八坂神社.
Wooden wishing plaques (Ema 絵馬).
Yes! That’s my fifth goshuin (seal). Cost 300 yen.
Main shrine (on the left), Maidono (center) and shrine office on the right.
Lanterns at Maidono 舞殿 under the rain.
A deserted chōzuya. Must be the rain. Haha. If I’m not mistaken the on-going construction behind it is the main gate.
Praying at the main shrine 本殿 (honden).
Large prayer’s wooden boards.
We didn’t spent long at Yasaka Shrine. At most around 25 minutes. We then stopped by at Kaden Kyoame Gion Koishi 家傳京飴 祇園小石 for parfait heaven! Click the link to read more.
Next, we took the train to Kiyomizu-Gion station and walk to Inoichi, the ramen shop that we wanted to try on day 5 that were closed. This time it was opened BUT we were told the waiting time is 1.5 hours. WHAT!!! Okay forget it. Yeah, it was dinner time.
I decided to go elsewhere since we’ve been out since morning and it was a tiring day. Really no energy liao. Then I thought why not just buy food from convenient store and eat in the hostel?
My bento box from Daily Yamazaki @ 498 yen. It was heated on the spot and there… a warm dinner. Can you believe it was really delicious?
My sister meanwhile had kitsune udon again! Hehe
Inari sushi which we bought earlier during lunch at Inafuku… our dessert. Haha
We slept around 10pm as we have to wake up really early the next day. And yes, it was still raining when we went to sleep. This was our last day in Kyoto. Tomorrow we will be moving to another location and new adventure awaits us.
Overall, Kyoto was wonderful. I wish I have an extra day or two here. It’s a stark contrast with Osaka and Nara and all three have been enjoying and calming.
Stay tuned for day 8.