We awoke early on another rainy day to see a couple of sights near Kyoto.
In the morning we got a train to the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.
The bamboo was amazing. The stalks towered above us extending skywards and the forest seemed to sprawl out endlessly. A single, crowded path led through the bamboo. It was a ridiculously busy day making it difficult to squeeze through all the people walking in both directions.
We did see a couple of snails kissing though.
After this we took another train to see the Fushimi Inari Shrine. This is renowned for its 10,000 Torii gates. There are apparently more like 32,000 gates to the peak of Mount Inari, each one painted the colour of the sun.
Every gate is donated by a company or organisation, the name of which is engraved on the gate. The shrine is dedicated to Inari, the God of abundant crops. Having good crops is associated with a good income therefore Inari is now synonymous with good fortune (hence the donations).
The trail is around 4 km long and 223 m high; something we were not aware of when we began. We were rather unprepared for the rainy, muggy conditions. It was also even busier than the Bamboo Forest, resulting in a lot of umbrella bashing trying to get through the gates. That said, we were determined to do the whole thing.
We even got to see people dressed in kimonos!
While the leisurely stroll we expected was more of an uphill battle against the crowds, it was quite a breathtaking experience (sometimes literally). The gates and temples stretching all the way up Mt Inari were an impressive sight, even in our sweaty, bedraggled state.
The Fushimi Inari Shrine is one of Japan’s most popular tourist spots. As such here are few words of wisdom if you do decide to visit:
- It is a very long walk to the top.
- Avoid visiting on a long weekend (like we did).
- Don’t wear skinny jeans.