Until Next Time, Kyoto

September 10, 2014

On Monday morning we woke up fairly early again to sneak in a couple last minute sites before leaving Kyoto for the mountains. We hit up Mickey D’s for some egg McMuffins and ate our breakfasts while we waited for our train. (Sadly, it was cheaper than our hostel breakfast the previous morning.)

Our first destination of the day was Fushimi-Inari-Taisha, a Shinto shrine dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of grains (mainly rice). It was dedicated in the 8th century and is the head shrine for about 40,000 Inari shrines in Japan. As the role of agriculture declined, Inari’s role as god of grain shifted to god of prosperity in business.

Romon Gate at the shrine's entrance

Romon Gate at the shrine’s entrance

The colors are so brilliant

The colors are so brilliant

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFushimi-Inari-Taisha is most popular for its vermilion torii gates which shade a series of paths that go all the way up Mount Inari. The torii gates are donated by individuals, families, or businesses who are thankful for their success or hope to acquire it.

Beginning of the torii gates

Beginning of the torii gates

The gates start out very large

The gates can be very large

and then get smaller

or smaller

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

End of the Senbon Torii - "thousands of torii gates"

Walking through the gates is lovely. On an early morning hike without many tourists it would be divine. Another symbol of Fushimi-Inari is the fox. Foxes are believed to be Inari’s messengers so there are statues of foxes all over the shrine.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You write a wish, draw a face on the plaque, and say a prayer

You write a wish, draw a face on the plaque, and say a prayer

The key in his mouth is for the rice granary

The key in his mouth is for the rice granary

I would have enjoyed staying at Fushimi Inari longer than we did. Next time we’ll plan on going early in the morning and hiking up Mount Inari. We hiked a little ways up the trail before turning off to go back into town.

At a shrine you first purify your hands and mouth at the temizuya

At a shrine you purify your hands and mouth at the temizuya

Here's a map of the hiking trails you can walk

Here’s a map of the hiking trails you can walk

Torii gate pathway

Torii gate pathway

A shrine off the path a little ways

A shrine off the path a little ways

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Getting off the path

Getting off the path

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe left Fushimi Inari and decided to try and squeeze in one more big site. We didn’t have the option to be picky because we were on a time crunch so we chose Ginkaku-ji, one of Kyoto’s most famous temples.

Ginkaku-ji, or the Silver Pavilion, was established in 1482 by shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa as a place to spend his retired life. He modeled the villa after his grandfather’s retirement villa, Kinkaku-ji (or the Golden Pavilion, another of Kyoto’s famous temples). After Yoshimasa’s death the villa was converted to a temple.

Walking up to the temple entrance

Walking up to the temple entrance

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You can just make out the pavilion on the right

You can just begin to see the pavilion on the right

Had we followed the advice of our guidebook we wouldn’t have visited when we did – around noon – because it’s such a small area that the crowds really do detract from the zen and take away the pleasure of visiting. Needless to say, we weren’t very impressed because of the amount of other visitors. However, looking back at our photos, I do agree that Ginkaku-ji is one of the most beautiful temples in Kyoto. The surroundings have so much influence on your experience though. If we go back, I would go in the morning when it first opens. I think the experience would be much more rewarding.

This cone of white sand is called kogetsudai. Its design reflects moonlight and intensifies the garden's beauty at night

This cone of white sand is called kogetsudai. Its design reflects moonlight and intensifies the garden’s beauty at night

a dry sand garden called "The Sea of Silver Sand"

a dry sand garden called “The Sea of Silver Sand”

Beautiful painting on the Hondo (main hall)

Beautiful painting on the Hondo (main hall)

the Hondo (Main Hall)

the Hondo (Main Hall)

It really is a gorgeous garden

It really is a gorgeous garden- just imagine it in the fall

Here's why I lost my zen - people, people, people

Here’s why I lost my zen – people, people, people

View of the Togu-do

View of Togu-do

A small shrine off to the side

A small shrine off to the side

If you walk up the path into the moss garden there's a lovely view of Kyoto

If you walk up the path into the moss garden there’s a lovely view of Kyoto with the temple grounds below

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The best view of the Silver Pavilion is when you're about to leave

The best view of the Silver Pavilion is when you’re about to leave

After we left Ginkaku-ji we went back to our hostel to pick up our bags and got on the first of several trains that would take us to Koyasan. I’ll leave that tale for another post.

We tried cold matcha to see if we liked it better - we did

We tried cold matcha to see if we liked it better – we did

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s