Well, before we get to that, we are off to try to see some more sights: on the list today are the Fushimi inari shrine (of the thousand Torii gates), and the Bamboo Forest. They are on opposite sides of the city (I ignored Visitacity) so we have a day of travel ahead. Kyoto is huge, and though suffering its fair share of plunder, war and fires, it was left off the bombing list in WW2, so it retains so many of its heritage buildings. They got something right!
Fushimi inari is a shito shrine dedicated to the God of Rice – very important deity in Japan, whose messengers are foxes, make of that what you will; the fox statues remain indifferent.
The approach to the shrine is teeming with stalls selling food, gifts, dedications – and goo balls! Never ever again.
The path of the thousands of torii gates winds its way along the side of the mountain through dense forest. Each of the gates is a donation with the name of the donor inscribed into the back face of the upright. Some are larger, and some smaller, depending on the pockets of the donors. In some places, age has weathered them to the point of needing replacement, and there is even a stone one in amongst it all: this donor clearly didn’t want to pay for a replacement.
Once we’ve had our fill of the temple walk, we fill our bellies with some food from the vendors, and set off to Arashiyama to see the Bamboo forest, which takes us diagonally across the city.
Exiting the JR station, we are loudly enticed to see the steam train in the museum right next door. It also offers us an opportunity to take the scenic train to the forest and the river, but we settle for shanks’ pony, and also eschew the bicycle touts. Wise move – one would be mostly walking the bike due to the crowds on the path. Well, there’s a surprise. Even the rickshaw guys, very authentic in their lycra running pants and Nike runners, have a hard time navigating their passengers through the madding crowd. I could never take a rickshaw – I even feel sorry for my horse carrying me, and he weighs 600 kg and is built for it. These lithe young men don’t look up to the task.
The forest is beautiful, and certainly deserves its reputation as a scenic spot.
An added bonus to our plans is the Tenryuji temple not far from the forest; one of my top see destinations, and as luck would have it on our way. It is ranked at the top of the list of Zen temples in Kyoto, and one can find zen in the beautiful gardens. The pond has more Koi – yeah!
Arashiyama is also a pretty precinct with many of the original houses from the Meiji period preserved in the surrounding streets. But we are templed out, and we forgo the pleasures of the rest of the area… There’s only so much one can do in a day.
And now to the Geisha. Added bonus! On our return to Gion, it’s about 5pm, and we are wandering Hanamikoji Dori near our hotel, and W sees a geisha!!! Unfortunately the notification comes a tad late, since she’s already passing me by, and I don’t have my camera ready! I snap a couple of times anyway, in the hope… And I don’t chase her for more, since that would be decidedly uncool! And besides, I am not sure if her companions are bodyguards, of paparazzi or both? That woman with the hat looks decidedly dangerous.
Alas, we don’t have more time, there are so many things to do and see in Kyoto, that it’s hard to pick and choose. Next time…..