Winter in Japan – day 9

Day 9 began with a trip out to Kyoto and a change of train for the short journey to Fushimi-inari. 

I’ve visited this site every time ive been in Japan but today was different as for the first time I decided to go off the normal tourist track.  With last night being Mantoro, today was officially the first day of spring so this popular Shinto shrine was extremely busy, and getting off the main tourist path was essential for getting away from the crowds.

After some street food on the way from the station  (noodles with pickled ginger, bacon and dried fish – very nice!) we headed in to grab the usual tourist snaps of the main Shrine and the path of torii gates before leaving the main route to explore the forest. 

Once off the main tourist path the forest is surprisingly quiet, with no more than 3 or 4 people on the path. Our route took us past some small shrines and climbed gently around the base of Mount Inari through bamboo groves and a forest of evergreen trees with some fine views over Kyoto.

After a gentle 2km hike the path suddenly climbs steeply up the hill side in a series of zig zags which strike up through the forest to reach the summit of Mount Inari. Although only a modest 233m (approx 755 ft) high, the steepness of the climb and the views oùt over Kyoto make the mountain feel much higher. 

After a break and cold beer it was back down the hill, this time following the much busier but less steep tourist route through the torii gates. 

Once at the bottom, and back in the busier than ever Shrine there was just time to grab a few more shots of the torii gates before heading off again towards the railway station to go visit another new location. 

The second location of the day was Kiyomizu-dera, a huge Buddhist temple complex in the hills to the east of Kyoto. A World Heritage site, which was included in the list of 20 finalists for the New 7 Wonders of the World project, this site is very popular with tourists.

Unfortunately it closes at 6pm and with the hike at Fushimi-inari taking longer than expected there was not enough time to visit the main temple.  

The main hall in the temple is built over the Otowa waterfall where three streams plunge into a pool. The water is said to be unusually clear (Kiyomizu actually means Pure Water) and visitors often catch the water as it falls to drink as it is said to give good health & grant wishes.

With time limited and the sun beginning to set, we spent some time at the Shinto shrines outside the main Buddhist complex snapping some shots with the bright orange Shinto shrines beautifully lit by the setting sun.

The sunset tonight was beautiful and made a lovely ending to another day of new locations.

It’s a pity there wasn’t more time to explore Kiyomizu-dera but I’ll definitely make a point of spending more time at this location next time I’m in Japan! 

Tomorrow is a day off from photography, a day of shopping for gifts and souvenirs so tonight was also a night off. 

A nice meal and drinks in Hommachi and Shinsaibashi was followed by a walk back to the apartment at 1am.

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