This is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start at the very beginning, click here.
From Izuju, it is just a short walk around the corner to Gion. Along the way, there are lots of stuff to see (and buy).
Along the way, my daughter was asking me about Japanese writing, and was explaining to her Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana systems. Then we walk past this place. Talk about coincidences.
Turn left on the first major traffic light junction and you will be in Gion. this geisha district is also a well-preserved heritage area famed for traditional teahouses and restaurants serving kaiseki cuisine, quite similar to Pontocho Alley. Actually, to be honest, it may all be fascinating to the Western tourist, but for me there wasn’t much to see. Some folks like to rent the kimono for the day and take lots of photos along this street, but really, how many photos can you take of yourself? Anyway, if you are in a rush (and unless you are hellbent on seeing a real geisha) I would suggest you give this place a miss.
Next stop on our itinerary is Fushimi Inari Taisha, located about 5 km south of Gion. The fastest way there is to take the Keihan railway line there.
The area around Fushimi temple is also very lively and crowded with tourists. If you are looking for a meal, you will have no shortage of choices to pick from.
Just like most other major temples here, the entrance walkway is lined with souvenir shops, restaurants and stalls selling snacks.
Saw this guy selling slabs of pork grilling on a fire. Who can say no to that??
Fushimi Inari is a must visit in Kyoto. Recently it was voted the no.1 destination, plus it was featured in the move ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ (have not watched this movie, though).
The temple is famous for home to more than 10,000 vermilion torii gates (some Japanese school girls were actually counting them in front of us) and the shrine is dedicated to Inari, the Shinto deity of rice. Foxes are believed to be Inari’s messengers. I suspect that unlike the deer of Nara, foxes here have long gone extinct from the mountain, but there are many statues of them all over the grounds.
The shrine is actually build on the foot of a hill, with two separate paths leading up and down. It will take you more than 2 hours to trek up to the peak (apparently the view is breathtaking) but we didn’t go. You can go as far as you can, after awhile the torii gates start looking the same.
It goes without saying you can find lots of souvenirs to buy. Most popular are the miniature vermilion torii gate, and the fox.
By the time we were about to leave, it was about 4pm, and saw this view of the temple at the golden hour.
Given time, I think I would have loved to fully explore the temple, and climb to the peak of the hill. There’s a lot more to the temple than the torii gates, so if I had the opportunity I would definitely come back here again.
After that, time to look for dinner. We tried this place we saw on the way going in to the temple.
After we finished at about 5pm, most of the shops here were closing down for the day. I guess everything revolves around the tourists and the temple. From there, we took a train (not Kintetsu this time, we took JR) and a bus back to our Airbnb. We stopped one station earlier to buy some breakfast from this large supermarket near our Airbnb.
So ended our 3rd day in Kyoto. Very tiring, but immensely enjoyable and fulfilling. We managed to cover two of the most famous temples in Japan, Kiyomizudera and Fushimi Inari, try authentic Kyoto sushi, amongst many other things.
Next – Arashiyama.