Japan Diaries 3: Day 5

Day 5 December 23, 2019

Exploring Kyoto 3

Good morning from Kyoto City, Japan!

For today's adventure, we are going to shift gears from "Family Mode" to a "Tri-group Mode".

The first group consists of my parents and my sister Aya. They plan to have a walking tour around Kyoto Station and also go shopping for souvenirs and Christmas gifts for our relatives in the Philippines. 

The second group consists of my wife and daughter. They will be heading to our godfather's house in Kumatori, Osaka where they'd spend a few days. My wife plans to cook some dishes and desserts for our upcoming Christmas Eve dinner with them. 

I'm back to Kyoto Station for the Nth time this year.

The third group consists of me and my brother Patrick. We plan to visit Fushimi Inari Shrine and hike Mt. Inari. Afterward, we'll try to visit as many shrines and temples that we could for the day. 

My brother Patrick posing with the giant torii gate and Romon Gate as his backdrop

Train to our first destination: Fushimi Inari Taisha

For this article, I'll focus mostly on my adventures with my brother. Speaking of our adventure, it began early in the morning right after our hearty breakfast. However, before we went to our first destination, we first accompanied my wife and daughter to Kyoto Station where they'd board a train to Osaka Prefecture. As for us, we bought a Kyoto City Bus One Day Pass and a one-way train ticket to Inari Station. 

Just arrived at Inari Station

Inari Station was just 2 stops away from Kyoto Station. What's more amazing is that there were only a handful of tourists on the train with us. From Inari Station, we walked towards our first destination which was Fushimi Inari Taisha

Time to explore Fushimi Inari Taisha

Fushimi Inari Taisha's famed torii gates

Patrick seems to enjoy his visit to Fushimi Inari Taisha

Fushimi Inari Taisha is famous for the thousands of torii gates in its vicinity. It is also infamously known for the thousands of tourists who flock to the shrine daily. As expected, we experienced this during our visit, that's why after taking some pictures of some areas, we immediately proceeded to the most challenging part of our plan today - hiking Mt. Inari.

Off to hike Mt. Inari

Now for the ascent to Mt. Inari...

Wow! torii gates near the peak of the mountain!

Mt. Inari stands 233 meters above sea level. From Fushimi Inari Taisha, there are several trails up the mountain. We followed the Bamboo Grove Course. This brought us to the eastern side of the mountain. Our hike to the summit took about two hours and a half. We could have reached it in two hours (or maybe less) if not for the numerous stops that we took to check out and take photos of interesting spots. It's good to note that the higher you get, the fewer the people are. 

Mt. Inari summit reached!

Speaking of interesting spots, we passed several shrines like the Mitsurugi no Taki and a wood carving work studio along the way. Once we reached the peak, we were greeted by the Ichibomine (Kamisha Shinseki) which is another Shinto Shrine.

Time to descend back to Fushimi Inari Taisha

Photo opportunity at Fushimi Inari Yotsu-suji area

Going down, we followed the Western Trail which is actually the most used trail up Mt. Inari. We passed other shrines like the Ninomine (Nakashashinseki), Ainomine, and Sannomine until we reached the Fushimi Inari Yotsu-suji which is famous for its amazing view of the city. From there, we followed the Fukakusa Kaidoguchicho Trail until we reached Fushimi Inari Taisha. 

Back at Fushimi Inari Taisha

Quick snack! Takoyaki!

Let's try out this 500 yen takoyaki.

After the tiring hike, we headed to the nearby food stalls to put something in our hungry stomachs. We availed of the 6 pc -500 yen takoyaki. It was enough to give us the energy to walk the 950-meter stretch to our next destination which was Tofukuji

Walked to our next destination...

The entrance to the main grounds of the temple is free. You'll get to see the Tofukuji Sanmon and the Main Hall in front of it. However, there are two spots that require an entrance fee worth checking out. First are the Tofukuji Hojo and its garden which costs 400 yen to enter, while the other area is the Tsutenkyo Bridge and Kaisando which also costs 400 yen to enter.

Tsutenkyo Bridge

My brother and I decided to visit only one area to conserve funds. From the two, we chose the Tsutenkyo Bridge and the Kaisando area as it's something that I was quite familiar with. If you've watched the Japan Version of Clean Bandit's Solo ft. Demi Lovato, you'd see Japanese dancer Nana brilliantly performing the dance scene in different parts of Kyoto. One scene was shot in none other than Tsutenkyo Bridge. 

Watched Clean Bandit's Solo music video for full effect while crossing the bridge.

We didn't miss the opportunity to take photos of the bridge but we were unable to "recreate" the dance scene as both of us lack talent. Moving on, we were saddened to discover that the Kaisando was under restoration so we didn't stay long and proceeded to head to our next destination. However, both of us were already hungry after our Tofukuji exploration so we looked for a place to eat late lunch. 

Next stop: Ramen Factory Kyoto

Check out my miso ramen

Pat enjoying his Salt Yuzu Pepper Ramen

We found Ramen Factory Kyoto at 814-18 Honmachi and ordered the best sellers. I got the Miso Ramen for 1260 yen and Patrick ordered the Salt Yuzu Pepper Ramen for 1310 yen. It was one of the best ramen meals that I have so far. Aside from that, the staff was very accomodating and amazing.  After paying for our hearty meal, we headed to the bus stop and boarded bus #208 to Heian Shrine. From the Tofukuji bus stop, we boarded down at Higashiyama Nanajo bus stop and walked for 6 minutes until we reached Heian Jinju's Onten-mon Gate

Waiting for bus #208

Next destination: Heian Jingu

Heian Shrine is another famous historical shrine in Kyoto. It is where the Jidai Festival is held and also one of those free-to-enter destinations. Well, that is if you won't enter the Shin-en Garden which costs 600 yen. We didn't stay long though as we wanted to maximize the use of our Kyoto City Bus One-Day Pass. We walked to the nearest bus stop planning to visit Nanzenji. However, we boarded bus #100 which has an audio description of places to visit near each bus stop. I got curious about Okazaki Shrine which was said to be a shrine to visit to ward off evil so we boarded down at the Okazaki Jinja-mae bus stop. 

Bye for now Heian Jingu Shrine

Oops mistook Okazaki Betsuin Temple for Okazaki Shrine...

Regardless, we'd still checked out Okazaki Betsuin Temple

From the bus stop, we walked towards the shrine's location as suggested by Google Maps. Funny as it may sound, we turned too early and found ourselves in the Okazaki Betsuin Temple grounds. We still checked out what it has to offer though. On our way out we walked towards Shirakawa-dori when we spotted the real entrance to Okazaki Shrine which was actually a few steps away from the temple's entrance. 

Next destination: Okazaki Shrine

One of the many usagi in Okazaki Shrine vicinity

Time to explore the shrine grounds

Okazaki Shrine is probably the smallest shrine that I have visited this year so far. Regardless, it's still worth checking out. Interestingly, the shrine has plenty of usagi (rabbit) statues. The shrine also sells usagi charms that are said to bring luck. We left the shrine at about a little past 4PM. It means that we only have one last shrine or temple to visit as most close at 5PM. So we quickly headed to the nearest bus stop and waited for the first bus to arrive. Then we'll decide where to go depending on the possible destinations of the first bus that will arrive.

Next stop: Ginkakuji

Gotta love Ginkakuji's sand garden

A closer look at Ginkakuji AKA The Silver Pavilion

The first bus to arrive was bus #204 bound for Ginkakuji also famously referred to as the Silver Pavilion. We arrived at the Ginkaku-mae bus stop at around 4:30PM. We brisk walked and got to the temple just in time for the last admission. Ginkakuji is a UNESCO World Heritage Site built sometime in 1484. Aside from the historic temple building, the well-maintained garden is a must-see when visiting the temple grounds. It features two unique sand piles; the Kogetsudei (Moon mound) and Ginsaden (Sea of Silver Sand).

Looking for the entrance to Nishiki Market

After our quick visit to Ginkakuji, Patrick and I decided that it would be best to look for other destinations that are still open at night and do other things than visit another temple or shrine. So after Googling the possible places to visit at night, we decided to board a bus to Nishiki Market

There you are! Finally, we're at Nishiki Market!

Inside Nishiki Market

Well, look what we have here! Takotamago!

Takotamago taste test by Patrick

When we arrived, we did plenty of walking around the five-block-long shopping street. Of course, a visit to Nishiki Market won't be complete without trying one of the exotic foods which the market is known for so we settled with the takotamago or baby octopus with an egg inside its head as I had seen it plenty of times in several Japan travel videos in Youtube. 

When we were about to leave, I saw what appeared to be a shrine at the far end of the street. It was Nishiki Tenmangu Shrine. I didn't waste the opportunity to visit it as part of the Nishiki Market experience. The temple is known for several luck-reading features like the Nade-ushi cow and the Karakuri Omikuji which is a robotic fortune telling machine. We didn't stay long though as the temple grounds are small and tend to get crowded due to its close proximity to Nishiki Market. 

Check out what we have bought...

Macha Melon Pan Ice

To end our day, we bought and ate a Macha Melon Pan Ice worth 400 yen and then rode a bus back home. Overall, it was a tiring yet memorable experience as this was also my first time traveling with my only brother. It's also our last full day in Kyoto as we'd be heading back to Osaka Prefecture tomorrow -something everyone is looking forward to doing. 

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Previous: Japan Diaries Day 4
Next: Japan Diaries Day 6


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