Ah yes. We have now come to what I will fondly refer to as Mother of All Kyoto Shrines: the Fushimi Inari Taisha.
It was a good thing that we had allocated the morning to the shrine. It being away from the cluster of shrines like the Golden Pavilion and Kiyomizu-dera meant that we had to visit it on its own. But it was definitely worth it, despite us suffering from severe hunger and thirst. We only packed a bottle of water for the two of us to share. Stupid and naive, that’s all I can say.
Fushimi Inari Taisha is famous for its many, MANY torii gates. These were donated to the shrine by worshippers and the gates are usually engraved with the names of the organizers as well as the date. You can also see many statues of kitsune, or fox, which is thought to be the messenger of the Shinto god of rice, Inari.
The shrine boasts of a wooded mountain in its backyard (how cool is that!) and being extremely gungho, we decided to go around the mountain. There is a path and lots of lots of steps so it’s definitely not something for the faint-hearted nor is it for those equipped with only one bottle of water. The entire journey took us more than two hours, including a pitstop at one of the little restaurants situated on the mountain.
When we first reached the shrine, we got seriously excited by the red torii gates and snapped a whole tonne of photos. Like, A LOT. This was one of them:
And then we were awestruck by all! these! gates!:
Foolish, impressionable tourists, I mutter to myself now.
We started walking and climbing and walking and climbing. We went down,
and then we went up.
Along the way, we saw lots of cats and had a most delicious lunch of kitsune udon, inari (but of course, it’s husband’s favourite Japanese food and we were at a shrine dedicated to Inari) and macha latte at a cosy little restaurant nestled on top of the mountain.
There were gates by the side,
and gates flanking the path.
By the time we emerged from the woods, we had probably walked by tens of thousands of gates and had reached about 233m above sea level. But it was awesome. The woods was quiet and shady, and very very peaceful. Most of the time, we were alone on the path but were joined by the occasional jogger (yes, there was this crazy woman running up and down the path!) and tourist.
After all that exercise, we had to celebrate!
We climbed the mountain at Fushimi Inari Taisha and what did we get for it? Why, a miniature torii gate, of course! (Which Coco really liked.)