Meeting Japan: A Day of Shrines

Days since my last post: 5

And I'm back on our regular schedule! So in a bid to maximize use for our Kansai Thru Pass, we took off to what would have been our final visit to Kyoto throughout this trip and decided to visit the rather famous shrines around the prefecture, because who even goes to Japan and not visit their shrines?

FUSHIMI INARI-TAISHA

Our first stop was Fushimi Inari-taisha, or simply known as the Fushimi Inari. Famed for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, people may also recognize the Fushimi Inari from Rob Marshall's 2005 novel adaptation of "Memoirs of a Geisha". That's right, Chiyo ran through these gates! 
A journey.

Every gate a blessing.

Every gate costs between a whopping ¥400,000 to ¥1,000,000 to build, and were donated by individuals or companies with their names inscribed on the back of these gates. They were an unmistakable tourist attraction, and grabbing a picture with no one in the background can be an almost impossible feat unless you're there when everyone else is asleep.

After about 248174721841615 tries.

A fluke shot of people passing him by, but I loved how it turned out.

But of course, torii gates weren't the only attraction of the Fushimi Inari-taisha. Way pass these gates laid a pathway for the adventurous who were ready for a 2 to 3 hour walk in order to reach the summit of Mount Inari. It was no easy feat, as told by a colleague who tried it and turned back after about 45 minutes. We obviously did not go for it because we weren't THAT crazy to begin with. The Fushimi Inari-taisha is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and entrance is free.

The Romon Gate, a donation by the famous leader Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1589.
Japan streets.

You will definitely be boggled by the stalls leading up to the shrine itself, but don't forget to stop by for some souvenirs such as the famed Kitsune or fox as they're believed to be Inari's (the Shinto god of rice) messengers as well as an array of delicious snacks to fill your tummy. Getting to the Fushimi Inari-taisha is fairly simple, as it is simply a 5 minute walk from the Fushimi Inari Station along the Keihan Main Line trains. And you know what's great about the walk? 

Train crossing! 

We stood in the middle of the train tracks for this picture. 

Call me naive, but in the city you hardly get to walk through train tracks can you? Well, in Japan you can. Taking a picture in the middle of the train tracks checked! 

HEIAN SHRINE

From then we took off to the Heian Shrine, a relatively "new" shrine that dates back from 1895. It was built to commemorate the 1100th anniversary of the capital's foundation in Kyoto. Located about a 10 minute walk away from the Higashiyama Station along the Kyoto subway, the pulse of Heian Shrine was way more different from the one at Fushimi Inari-taisha. 

Walking towards to the shrine.

Sake casks. 

Shrine grounds.

The Heian Shrine garden.

While entry to the main shrine is free, you would have to pay to enter the gardens at the back that was supposedly very pretty. Unfortunately for us, it rained when we were there and decided against visiting the garden because it was probably not as gorgeous anyway. The shrine grounds were a lot more quiet here, with less tourists swarming their way around and people who were there genuinely got some peaceful vibes. 

Can't prove we were there unless we took a shot! 

The shrine is open from 6 AM to 5.30 PM daily, so plan your time wisely if you were to visit. School buses did occasionally bring their students in for a tour but that's just about as much a crowd you will get while you're there. 

KINKAKU-JI

Our final shrine visit was the Kinkaku-ji or also known as the Golden Pavilion that supposedly housed the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu who then passed on in 1408 and in his will stated the pavilion be turned into a Zen temple of the Rinzai sect. 

Rebuilt in 1955.

Hi, we were there.

Seated to overlook a large pond that supposedly never dries up!

Unfortunately the current structure we're looking at isn't the original as it was burnt down twice; once during the Onin War that destroyed much of Kyoto between 1333 to 1573, and once again by a fanatic monk in 1950. The floors of the pavilion was said to have different architectural styles, with the highest being capped with a gold phoenix. 

Visiting the head priest's former living quarters.

Memorably gorgeous. 

While it may seem like an empty space in my pictures, make no mistake that Kinkaku-ji is constantly filled with tourists and unfortunately they can be the irritating sort that has made their own name for annoyance on social media. I shan't name names, but you should already know how their reputation can be. Entrance fees are at ¥400 per person, and the overall visit takes about 30 minutes from the start to finish. We believe it could have been much more enjoyable had it not been raining, and possibly even better if people had not been so pushy around. 

The Kinkaku-ji is open from 9 AM to 5 PM daily, and is only reachable by bus numbers 101, 102, 204, or 205 should you come from the Kitaoji Station by the subway. It is also reachable via the Kyoto Station by bus 101, or 205. All bus rides are priced at ¥230 per person, per way.

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