Posts Tagged With: fushimi inari

Kyoto & Osaka Adventures – Matt’s Trip To Japan

Just wait until I tell you about my weekend! It was positively, absolutely incredible!

My brother Matt and his friend Tim came to Japan for a holiday. I couldn’t unfortunately take a lot of time off from work as it’s a really busy season for Japanese schools, but I was able to pop down to Osaka and Kyoto this weekend to play local tour guide. I was so excited to see my little brother I could hardly sleep the days leading up to our adventure!

Saturday we toured around Kyoto and I brought the boys to some of my favourite places and temples. I knew it would be my last trip to Kyoto, so it was really nice to see my favourite temples one last time and share them with my brother.

First stop was Kinkakuji Temple. The boys were delighted to get to ring the enormous bell inside the temple grounds.
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Then we meandered over, through the throngs of school kiddies out on their annual school trip, to the actual pavilion. I had never seen Kinkakuji look so beautiful! The temple was magnificent to behold with a robins egg blue sky in the background and the brilliant sunshine making it really sparkle. Also, the iris flowers around the temple pond were in full bloom much to my delight! (For more info in Kinkakuji click here)

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We arrived in downtown Kyoto, it was a scorcher of a hot day so we grabbed some matcha ice cream and took a shameless selfie. IMG_4472Our tongues turned thoroughly green and our stomachs happy, we skipped down the street to relax and putter around my favourite zen temple Kennin-ji. Matt and Tim both said that it was their favourite temple in Japan so far. Or perhaps I was simply so enthusiastic about being there, and singing it’s numerous praises, they dared not break my bubble of happiness…

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My favourite part of that whole day was walking around Kennin-ji and finally sitting down for a ‘quiet’ moment to contemplate the beautiful rock garden! Matt and Tim made friends with some of the cute girls wearing kimono and these photos were the highlight of their day.IMG_4631 IMG_4698

Truly tuckered out I retreated to my favourite cafe Malebranche in Kyoto Station to relax a little while the boys went shopping for Japanese goodies.  This was a  bittersweet and nostalgic moment, Malebranche’s cafe is one of my favourite cafes in the world and it would be my last time ever sitting there in it’s tranquility and comfort.IMG_4500

It’s a good thing I rested up because that night we went out on the town! Osaka’s big city lights lured the boys out of the hostel for a few beers and good times. I had to call it quits at 2 am little party pooper that I am eventhough the boys were ready to stay out till the sun came up; what can I say, these old bones of mine just couldn’t keep up! IMG_4503

 

We woke up tired but excited Sunday morning. Today was the day we were off to see some owls! A new and big trend in Japan is Owl Cafes which is basically a place where you go to hang out with live owls! Matt and I are die-hard Harry Potter fans, so this interaction with live owls was a dream come true.

Osaka today, Hogwarts tomorrow! Oh how I wish! Owl Cafe Osaka IMG_4753 IMG_4746We had a hoot at the Owl Cafe in Osaka (*wink wink*) and we all agreed it was a really memorable experience.

It’s pretty hard to beat that experience but I was determined to visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine with the boys. They were so templed-out by this point (a common affliction in Kyoto) that I had to promise them this was the grand finale and insist that they couldn’t leave Japan without seeing this magical place.

IMG_4809 IMG_4834 IMG_4843I normally hate to say, “I told you so!” but this was one of those times I couldn’t resist. The boys even admitted afterwards that they definitely would have regretted not going! I’m a pretty good tour guide, if I do say so myself. (For more info on the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto click here)

All too soon we had to say our goodbyes. I to go back to work in Fukui, and the boys to go on to have more crazy Japan adventures. Luckily it wouldn’t be long until we saw each other again. On Friday they will be coming to Fukui and I can’t wait to show them around my stomping grounds!

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Categories: Life in Japan, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto

No trip to Kyoto is complete without a visit to the Fushimi Inari Shrine. This shrine is my #1 sightseeing recommendation in Kyoto. The reason being not only is it a spectacular view it’s also a magical experience to explore this shrine too. I’ve attempted to write down everything I have learned about this shrine to improve your experience when you visit and answer commonly asked questions. I hope it can help future visitors to Kyoto!

A long time ago I watched the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha” and the scene where a young Sayuri runs through a tunnel of orange gates to make a prayer was imprinted in my memory. I promised myself one day I would see it with my own eyes.  fushimi inari memoirs of a geishaWhen I arrived in Japan and stood looking at the orange tunnel nearly 10 years later, I still remembered how I felt when I first saw it. “This must be a dream,” I thought to myself too stunned to take a step inside. My friend looked back at me, wondering why I had stopped talking and walking. As I slowly stepped under the first gate and into the tunnel that seemed to stretch on towards the heavens, I was very overcome with a wave of emotion. I couldn’t come up with the words to explain to my friend how magical the whole experience was.  It was the moment a childhood dream became a reality. Many people I’ve spoken to who have visited this shrine say similar experiences happened to them. I’ve witnessed tourists actually jump for joy when they first see the orange gates and couples hug one another. Clearly I’m not the only one for whom seeing the Fushimi Inari Shrine is a dream come true.fushimi-inari shrine kyoto5

About the Fushimi-Inari Shrine:

The Fushimi-Inari Shrine is a popular shrine for tourists located just outside the city center of Kyoto. It’s most famous for it’s orange gates, filmed in the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha”, which form a tunnel that tourists may walk through.  These gates are called “torii” in Japanese. It is possible to walk under the torii all the way to the top of the sacred Mt. Inari, which is 233m high. fushimi-inari shrine kyoto8

When you first arrive you’ll see the largest torii gate of the Fushimi-Inari Shrine. I think this one of the best photo opportunities so be sure to snap a picture before heading into the shrine.fushimi-inari shrine kyoto6Take you time exploring the main temple grounds, and be sure to take a peak into a tiny temple located on the far right of the main temple area. It has thousands of paper cranes. The hopes and dreams of shrine visitors in a rainbow of offerings is always something I enjoy seeing.  According to Japanese legend, if you fold 1000 paper cranes your wish is supposed to be granted. fushimi-inari shrine kyoto4 Once you’ve finished exploring the main temple grounds, head up the stairs, and begin your hike through the torii tunnel.

fushimi inari2These torii gates, interestingly enough, are all donations by families or companies. On the back of the torii gates you will see written in black kanji the donator’s name and the date it was donated. A small torii is around 400,000 yen as much as 1 million yen!!!!Fushimi-inari shrine kyoto 10The further up you walk the fewer people you will see and the quieter it will become, the steep slopes effectively weaning out those unfit for the challenge of a climb (*cough cough* the women wearing stilettos never make it very far, never fear). This is where you’ll easily be able to get photos with just you and your companions, the real trick will be waiting for a friendly person to take your picture! IMG_8766

What’s With All The Foxes?!?

By the time you finish exploring the shrine, you may be curious as to why you saw so many statues of foxes.  This is because foxes in Japanese culture are regarded as messenger spirits. fushimi-inari shrine kyoto7The Japanese word for fox is “kitsune” and if you look carefully you’ll see many restaurants in this area serving kitsune udon. Don’t be alarmed, it’s not fox noodle soup! Kitsune udon is a delicious dish made with thick udon noodles served in a dashi based soup stock and served with a piece of fried tofu. Kitsune udon is named after the Japanese fox because according to legend fox spirits are big fans of abura-age, the deep fried tofu that gives all the flavour to this great food.kitsune udon

My 6 Tips For Visiting Fushimi Inari Shrine:

  1. Wear comfortable shoes! I really do mean this, wear running shoes or at least comfy sneakers.
  2. Budget plenty of time as it’s quite a long walk to the very top.
  3. Don’t let other people hurry you, walk at a slow pace and savor the moment.
  4. Be patient taking photos. If you’re patient and wait for the perfect moment you’ll be able to get great solo shots.
  5. Try and go early in the morning, or towards the end of the day (if possible) as the experience is more magical the fewer the people. If you do, you’ll also be able to get photos in the torii tunnel with only you!
  6. If you don’t have time to do the entire walk to the top walk as far as you feel comfortable, but be sure to at least reach the beautiful photography point where 2 tunnels appear!

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How To Get To Fushimi-Inari Shrine:

There are several ways to get to the Fushimi Inari shrine. I highly recommend traveling by one of the train lines!

  • By JR Line: Take the JR Nara Line train from Kyoto station to JR Inari Station (Time: 5 minutes, Price: 140yen, 2 stops later)
  • By Private Train Line: From Kyoto Station take the Keihan Line to Fushimi Inari Station
  • By Bus: If you have the Kyoto Bus Sighseeing Pass you can access the shrine via the #5 bus from Kyoto Station. (See the map here) *I do not recommend this option as it take far too long compared to a train. It’s worth spending the extra money to get there quickly.*
Categories: Tips For Traveling In Japan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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