This takes place after lunch on the our second day in Kyoto, the 25th. 

It was about 2pm and we were headed to Fushimi Inari, the head shrine of the god of rice and business. Inari is incredibly important to the Japanese and I’ve seen dedicated shrines everywhere. They are easy to tell since Inari’s divine messengers are foxes which sit either side of the shrine. (The video game series Star Fox along with large portions of anime are based on these divine messenger foxes.)

Anyway, we started at 2pm and what should have been a relatively short journey turned into a two hour epic. (Well not really epic, just really lost.) The bus we took was the right number, but going the wrong way. It took us partially out of the city before we stopped it early and got off. We were in some sort of suburbia which was actually quite interesting. But it was so hot and there was little shade. I’m pretty sure this is when I scorched the back of my neck. I could feel it slowly frying in that tingly, burny sort of way. Fun. I tried to slather on sun screen after that (and for days after).

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DSCN2064 copyWe’re off to see Fushimi Inari/Wherever the bleep that is…DSCN2067 copy

We walked to this dinky little station that was so tiny it didn’t even have security or a way to purchase tickets. It looked like it was from the 50s. We were kind of suspicious no trains would stop here at all and it was just a relic, but one did stop fairly fast after we arrived. So we chugged along to a larger station where we then switched to a bus. And then back to rail. And then switched stations and got back on a different rail line. It was sort of stressful and very tiring.

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DSCN2068 copyA young man and woman in their summer yukata waiting for the bus.DSCN2069 copy

I was so happy to be somewhere in the end and not stuck in the endless transit loop. Fushimi Inari did not disappoint though. We didn’t see it all because after the shrine there are hiking trails with more buildings and torii that extend up the mountain. It takes three hours to reach the top and all of us were far too exhausted. So we walked part of the way up, then turned around and went back. Before you arrive at the shrine, however, you walk through shops and food stalls. It was really neat seeing fox stuff everywhere. They had dolls, statues, plushes, keychains, dishes, crackers, and anything else you could think of. It was like fox heaven.

DSCN2072 copyI was too busy finding souvenirs for people back home to take many pictures of the shopping street. This is the only picture that didn’t turn out hideous. DSCN2076 copyAnd just what is Allen doing while I’m shopping? Ha ha! Busted!DSCN2081 copyThe entrance to Fushimi Inari.DSCN2085 copy

DSCN2086 copyRomon Gate donated in 1589 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a famous Japanese warlord. Fox messengers sit on either side of the gate. DSCN2091 copy

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DSCN2100 copyBarrels of sake, Japanese rice wine, in rows at the side of the gate. 
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DSCN2099 copyRomon Gate from the back.DSCN2102 copyA stage (I think?) for kagura, a special type of Shinto ceremonial dancing. DSCN2104 copy

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DSCN2109 copyThere are fox messenger statues all over this place and they’re all different. This one has a cute ball of fire on his tail.DSCN2111 copyWooden wishing plaques in the shape of toriis. DSCN2120 copy

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Winding up the streets, you begin to see the Shinto red torii pop up. Fushimi Inari is especially famous for its torii. You’ve probably seen pictures before. There are literally thousands and there are two corridors where they’re lined up so close together it makes an eye-catching red hallway. Traveling through it is akin to setting up two mirrors to get that weird infinity loop.

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DSCN2134 copyWe’re through the big torii now. Next up are the little torii corridors. DSCN2141 copyLeft or Right? Choose your path, wanderer. …Except they both lead to the same place.DSCN2143 copy

DSCN2145 copyThe world between the torii corridors.DSCN2149 copyIt was hard to photograph these without any people in the shot. I think that was everyone’s frustration here though: go away all tourists except me!DSCN2150 copyBetween the slats: peeks of the other path.DSCN2153 copy

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I took lots of pictures for my little sister. (Her nickname is Kitsune meaning fox in Japanese while mine is Neko which is cat. It’s real original, I know, but we dubbed each other after discovering manga and Japanese culture for the first time fourteen years ago. Somehow the names just stuck.) Anyway, I actually accidentally took some of the enshrined god: a semi-transparent shuttered area where a statue of the god ‘lives’. It is forbidden to take pictures of this area (almost always). I deleted them since I didn’t want to piss Inari off. Hey! I’ve seen enough Japanese horror movies, okay!? Why take the chance?

Unique fox shaped ema, wishing plaques. DSCN2167 copyI kinda creeped on anyone wearing yukata but they’re just so darn cute!DSCN2173 copy

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As we walked out of the torii corridor and back down the mountain, we saw a cat walking away. We half followed it and found a secret cat hang out! There were a couple sleeping on this statue that were mostly hidden from view by large bushes. I didn’t blame them. The cat we followed got rather molested by a tall Scandinavian woman. She kept trying to hold him there to pet him. It was bad cat manners.

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DSCN2195 copyAnother sacred fox statue.DSCN2197 copyCat spotted! Cat census: 10.
DSCN2201 copyThat’s not a fox! Imposter!DSCN2203 copySuper secret deluxe cat hangout found. Cat Census: 11.DSCN2204 copy“You idiot! You lead the humans straight to us.”DSCN2207 copyI like to take pictures of alleyways. I know I’m weird. DSCN2210 copyBack at the main grounds for the Fushimi Inari shrine; they’re beginning to close for the day.DSCN2211 copy

We made our way back. Thankfully it didn’t take as long! For dinner we ate at a sushi place. I, not realizing wasabi was hidden between the fish and the rice, had a very hard time. It was delicious for the first two seconds until the absolute power of wasabi slayed me. The menu had no pictures and was written in kanji so it was hard to order. Allen relied on his knowledge of fish in Japanese and just ordered what he liked. Alaina helped me (except for the wasabi thing which was my fault). And guess what was for dessert? Yup. Shaved ice. Still not as a good as the first one. The hunt continues…

Walking back to Fushimi Inari Station from the shrine…DSCN2215 copy

DSCN2216 copyA young man waiting at the train station.
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DSCN2223 copyAn archer probably on his way back from Kyudo Club.DSCN2222 copyFox decor at the Fushimi Inari Station.DSCN2227 copyBack downtown on Shijo Dori. Apparently the building on the left is the Minami-za Kabuki Theatre. I didn’t know that when I snapped the picture.DSCN2229 copyThe Kamo River in Kyoto.DSCN2231 copy

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We retired back to our ryokan at that point. I haven’t really described it yet. It’s a traditional Japanese tatami room with futons. The futons are really comfy too. There’s complementary hot water in a carafe for tea and also two yukata (Japanese cotton robes). Downstairs is a mini-garden, Western and Japanese toilets, and a shared bath and shower. You shower first outside the bath then relax away the pain of the day in the tub. The women who run it are so nice. They welcome us every time we come back and send us off every time we leave. They’ve gone above and beyond to make sure we were comfortable and were just really sweet people. I recommend the Ryokan Nakajimaya if you’re going to stay in Kyoto.

Our traditional tatami room at the inn.
DSCN1826View of our room from the doorway.DSCN1832The main hallway viewed from the stairs. 
DSCN1834The little courtyard garden on the bottom floor.DSCN1835The entrance way of Ryokan Nakajimaya. DSCN1843Frosted glass windows in our room.DSCN1824

DSCN1819 copyAllen was the first to point out how creepy the room is at night. It doesn’t help that one of our favorite Japanese horror games (Fatal Frame II) uses red lanterns thematically. He loved it of course. 
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Well, with another long day, I basically fell asleep on top of my laptop trying to make a post for the blog. And then it was another day…