Gosh, it is almost coming to the end of May and I am still blogging about the Japan trip which ended in the first week of April. I reckon that by the time I am done with all these posts, it would be autumn. You will be seeing photos of the cherry blossoms in Tokyo possibly only in November, just in time to start planning for another spring trip to Japan.
There are soooo many Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines in Kyoto that you could spend days doing nothing but hop from one temple to another shrine. In our previous visits (this is my third visit to Kyoto and the huband’s second), we had already seen the highly popular Kiyomizudera temple, the Kinkakuji, the Ginkakuji, and some others, we skipped those this round and visited several others that we have not been to. This time, we went to the Chion-in Temple, the Fushimi-Inari Shrine and the Sanjusangendo.
The Fushimi-Inari Shrine, with its stunning orange-red Sen-bon torii gates, was at the top of my to-go list. It is the head shrine in Inari, located in Fushimi-ku, at the base of Mount Inari. What is Inari? Inari is the Japanese Goddess of rice, responsible for protecting the rice fields and ensuring fertility, and foxes are her messengers.
(The Japanese anime, Inari Kon Kon Koi Iroha, has a backdrop in Fushimi-Inari Shrine. The story is about a high school girl called Fushimi Inari who rescues a fox pup belonging to the resident kami of the shrine and is given the powers by the kami to transform her appearance. The artwork of Fushimi-Inari in the anime is beautiful.)
To hike from the main temple complex, through the torii gates, to the top of the Mount Inari takes approximately two hours. I read that the best times to do the hike are during the early morning hours or in the late afternoon. The temple and its surroundings are said to very quiet and magical then, while others have described the place to look rather eerie at that hour of the day. Going by what I see of the temple in Inari Kon Kon Koi Iroha, the temple is stunning when the sun sets.
Together with hoards of visitors, we started making our way up the Sen-bon Torii from this torii gate with the guardian fox statues.
Shortly after, we arrived at the widely-photographed twin entrances to the densely packed torii gates. It was way too crowded for me to take a good photo of the entrances ‘cos everyone had the same idea as me.
The side of the torii gates where the characters were painted on them. Each torii gate bears the name of its donor on one side. The view through these torii gates is really beautiful. The path looks quiet and peaceful in this photograph. From these photos, you cannot tell how crowded the path was. I had to wait for the moments when the crowds have dissipated to click the shutter. I had to be quick ‘cos before you know it, another large group of people would appear…
At the other end of the torii gates. Then we continued to march on through another stretch of less densely packed torii gates, slowing making our way up to the mountain.
Midway point. The Okuno-sha shrine, with many miniature toriis on display. Where we turned back and went down the same route to go back to the temple complex. Then to lunch!