{travel} November ’16: Fushimi Inari Taisha

Hello! Time for another throwback to November ’16, to that day I went to Fushimi Inari Taisha for like the 9272836428364th time, no okay, just kidding, more like the third or fourth time, hah with a good friend of mine.

Fushimi Inari Taisha is probably one of Japan’s best-known shrines, attracting millions of visitors each year, especially around New Year’s. It is very famous for the thousands of orange and black torii (鳥居) gates that stretch along the trails leading from the bottom to the top of Mount Inari. These torii gates were actually shown in a scene in the movie Memoirs of a Geisha which many of you have probably seen.

This is the famous scene I’m talking about (where are the crazy crowds of tourists huhhh I’m sure they must have already existed during that time period) (From GnomoDesu on Youtube.com)

The shrine is partially named after the god it houses (which is kind of obvious, Simone, so why do you even have to mention that, okay I’m talking to myself, bye)Inari Okami. Inari is short for “ine ni naru” which can be roughly translated to “harvest of rice.” As such, Inari Okami could be considered the god of rice. This deity can bring many other blessings, however, not just that of good harvest. During the Heian period (which stretched from 794 to 1158 – as I already mentioned in one of my previous exchange posts if I remember correctly),

people prayed for things like good matches in marriage. […] Over the years, people also began to pray for business prosperity, prosperity of industries, safety of households, safety in traffic and improvement in the performing arts, a tradition that continues today (Source).

Wow, that was probably the most informative paragraph I’ve ever written, and half of it is a quote. But anyway, moving on:

Fushimi Inari Taisha is located outside the city centre of Kyoto, behind Kyoto Station and on the other side of the Kamogawa. The easiest way to get there is probably to take a train from Kyoto Station to Inari Station, but my friend and I decided to just walk from Karasuma and Gojo (which took around 30 to 40 minutes) because the weather was just fantastic. The walk took us through (largely residential) areas which had a different feel to them than the other parts of Kyoto we had seen until then, so that was an additional plus!

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We went on November 23, which is national Labour Thanksgiving Day. Usually Doshisha University still holds classes even on national holidays, but Labour Thanksgiving Day marks one of the rare occasions on which the majority of classes is cancelled, so it was a good opportunity for us to go on this little trip. At the same time, we were also a bit worried because it being a national holiday also meant that a lot of other people who didn’t have to work or go to school or whatever might be visiting this famous shrine. Fortunately, while some shrines and temples in the surrounding area did seem very crowded for some reason, Fushimi Inari itself wasn’t too bad (or at least not worse than what I had experienced during my previous visits in the summer time).

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Shrine grounds! (This photo was actually taken in July/August 2015 and not during my exchange semester; I wanted to include it anyway to give a little impressions of what the shrine grounds are like.)

Just in front of the entrance to the shrine grounds, there was a row of little stalls selling snack-like foods like mochi or fried tofu skewers. Then, when entering the grounds, there was lots to see – beautiful buildings, shops selling omamori (protective charms), postcards and the like, and most importantly a large torii signifying the beginning of the torii-lined trails that lead up to the top of the mountain.

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Just at the start of our little hike, the trail was relatively crowded with tourists from all over, trying to get nice pictures of the famous gates. But with time and distance, the number of people started gradually decreasing, probably because many were satisfied with the amount and quality of the pictures they had taken and thus decided to walk back to the bottom of the mountain.

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My friend and I kept hiking, however, for a good 30 minutes, to a point that according to Wikipedia (lol) is known as Yotsutsuji intersection and approximately half-way up the mountain. From Yotsutsuji intersection we were able to get a really nice view of Kyoto and its surroundings.

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Panorama’s look shit on this blog

The beautiful sunshine and the bright red fall leaves made the view even more spectacular! My friend and I spent some time at the intersection, just looking around and taking pictures, before deciding to return to the base of the mountain.

I had visited Fushimi Inari Taisha a couple of times beforehand and also hiked up to the intersection point. Since my previous visits had been during summer time, however – when Kyoto gets really hot and really humid -, the hike had felt like a long, difficult one. But when I visited in November 2016, I was surprised at how easy and tourist-friendly it really is. We only took around 30 minutes (I believe) – despite stopping many times to take photos – and there was no slipping or stumbling or whatever (unlike that one time at Mount Hiei, which I will talk about in a future post *spoiler alert ohmergerd*). So yeah, all in all, a very nice way to spend the day (or even just half the day), especially during cooler seasons such as fall or early spring (okay, I’ve never been to Kyoto in early spring, but I’m just assuming it’s not crazy humid like in summer). I really recommend Fushimi Inari Taisha if you’re ever in Kyoto, definitely a must-see and probably one of the city’s most famous sights even.

Anyway, that is all for today. Thank you so much if you read everything of even just parts of this post, I really appreciate it. See you soon (hopefully) with a new post! Tschauiiiii!

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I know I’ve written this so many times already, but fall is seriously the best season ever in Japan ♥ Look at these crazy red leaves, JUST LOOK AT THEM, THEY’RE PREFECT

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