The Fushimi Inari shrine (taisha) is known for its line of endless torii that scale Inari Mountain. While the massive crowds does detract a bit from the beauty of the walk up the mountain, there is still an enchanting quality to the experience. You almost feel like Alice going down the rabbit hole. It’s like looking at a reflection of yourself in another mirror and seeing that endless line of reflections. Or like that scene in The Last Jedi, where Rey thinks she’s about to see the identities of her parents. It’s almost hypnotic.
Here are some facts I gleamed about the shrine from our good friends at Wikipedia:
- Inari Mountain is 233 metres above sea level.
- The walk to the top, which is dotted by a bajillion shrines, is 4 kilometres long and takes about 2 hours to complete.
- Inari is the god of rice, but she is also praised as the patron of business by merchants and manufacturers.
- Every single one of the roughly 10, 000 torii has been donated by a Japanese business.
- The practice of donating a torii started in the Edo Period (1603-1868). People donated them to make a wish or to give thanks for a wish that came true.
- The key in the mouth of the fox statues is meant to be the key for the rice granary.
I didn’t complete the walk to the top because my host in Kyoto said the view is really not worth the time. I only got about halfway. Besides, I feel like I’ve seen enough shrines and temples in Asia. I had other stuff I wanted to see and do in Kyoto aside from JUST temples and shrines. In fact, I told myself that I was only going to see ONE temple in Kyoto.
On my way back towards the train station, my curiosity finally got the better of me and I tried one of these sweet red bean paste fish treats. It was aight.
Now speaking of that one temple…
The Philosopher’s Walk, which obviously isn’t as impressive without the cherry blossoms, but is still beautiful nonetheless…
…which led me to Kinkakuji Temple…
Just before venturing into Kinkakuji, though, I had lunch at a random ramen restaurant (top notch, by the way!), and I came across this guy.
As soon as I saw the hood around his head, I knew I’d seen him somewhere before. On a hunch, I googled “Mystical Ninjas,” and sure enough, there he was! I was fairly certain it was the same character, but I made a mental note to confirm with my host later on.
From the temple, our next stop was the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.
And finally, we capped the day of sightseeing with some delicious treats at Nishiki Market. The 400 year old market is one long strip of shops that sell every kind of food or snack you could possibly want.
I started off with a couple of simple rice sweets and some deep fried butter and potato thing–though I have to admit that I have not been impressed by the sweetts in Tokyo. It’s pretty much the only food category that Tokyo has failed me on, though, so it is forgiven.
Then we moved on to something a little bit more adventurous…
I didn’t try these things because they were overpriced just for having Snoopy’s face on them.
Once you reach the end of the line at the market, it transforms into a grossly modern shopping area, complete with a touristy mock temple that feels completely out of place. Of course, that didn’t keep me from taking a couple of pictures…
Once we got back to Oki’s place, our host took us out to dinner and drinks at a nearby restaurant. I already forgot what we ate, but I do remember one thing: I learned my two new favourite Japanese words: “KUSO OISHI!” I’ll let you guess what it means, but if I were to use it in a sentence, I’d say, “This sushi is KUSO OISHI!” All food in Japan is kuso oishi!