Day nineteen – Kyoto, Fushimi Inari

We had one mission: get to the top of Mt Inari, via the thousands of Torii gates that make up Fushimi Inari.

To get to Mt Inari, we went on the local subway and then a train line to right by the entrance of the shrine. It was Saturday, so very very busy at the shrine. The main shrine is a short walk from the train station and has a tea house and garden nearby as well as lots of little shrines. Behind the main shrines are the trails heading up the mountain, which are lined with Torii gates.

It’s hard to explain how weird and cool the experience is. The gates are packed densely enough that it’s quite dark in the tunnel as you walk, but you can see between them that there’s bright sunshine, or beautiful forest. Here and there along the path there’s little shrines, stones and guardian statues. Lots of foxes, as they’re messengers of the Gods. Anna took some beautiful portrait mode shots…

It’s not an easy climb. Some of it is slopes, but a lot of it is steps, and they’re not regular, even steps. They’re old steps which have been paved over many times, and some of the paving stones are cracked or otherwise askew, so I found I was watching my feet quite often.

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We took breaks on the way. Saw a young family with a toddler who flatly refused to walk and insisted on being carried. An American tourist asked me to take a photo of her with the gates. We saw some giant bee things, and some round shiny black beetles. And shrine cats. Lots of cats on this mountain.

A lot of people stop walking at the crossroads, so as we made our way to the summit, there were less people around. This allowed for photos like the above where there’s no one else in them. It was still busy though, I think some people walked down the hill right after I took this photo.

Even though it was hot, and we were tired and in various pains, we made it to the top. At the top of the mountain is a shrine and a gift store, so we didn’t stay too long before heading back down on the other side of the walking loop.

Down felt a lot better, although sore in different ways.

After that, we picked up some souvenirs and got back on the subway to get back to the hotel.

One thing which isn’t immediately obvious about Japan (or at least, the big cities with the subway systems) is that there’s another city underground. I don’t just mean a couple of shops, like, entire malls with food courts and banks and things. Kyoto subway station is made up of multiple malls and we got slightly lost in them yesterday.  If you turn the wrong way, you’re in a whole different mall. The signs are generally useful assuming you can find them.

I did find a uniqlo and bought some comfy, comfy clothing though.

Anyway with how tired we were after the many, many steps, we found a Macdonalds and sat down for a comfort meal. Anna tried some local specials: fries with cabonara sauce over them, and a chicken teriyaki burger. I had a double cheeseburger and regular fries, plus nuggets and we both had green melon fanta with them. I needed the salt and also something familiar. It was delicious, and we sat for a good half hour just unwinding.

After we’d eaten and hydrated, Anna found us the way out of the mall and we got the local line back to our hotel.

A quiet night in, doing laundry, using the hotel onsen and complaining about how our feet hurt.

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