One of the sites I was most excited about visiting during our Kyoto trip, was Fushimi-Inari, a shrine dedicated to the god of rice. All the pictures I saw of the hundreds of toriis looked so mesmerizing and such a tranquil atmosphere to walk through. I was under the impression that we would be able to get lost on the path of toriis, having the place to ourselves. Unfortunately, our timing was a little off… We went two weeks after the new year and hundreds of people were still visiting the shrine to pray for the new year. (Note to self: don’t visit shrines in January). We were constantly following people, walking up the mountain. However, I still enjoyed the surroundings and the crisp air. Even with the city and a train station outside the shrine’s entrance, the trail leads you through a forest, up a mountain. It’s hard to believe that you can find such a peaceful place near the city. We would love to visit again when there are less people and finish the entire trail. Mark’s feet were hurting and he wanted to eat (okay, we both wanted to eat, but I did want to keep walking).
Even with the crowds, I still loved visiting this shrine. It’s now one of my favorite spots in Japan. I would highly recommend this place for any travelers going through Kyoto.
Kyoto is a beautiful city and one of my favorite cities in Japan. I loved walking side by side Mark while he experienced his first temples, in Kyoto’s Higashiyama District, as the sun was setting. With the crisp chill in the air, the backdrop of an amazing temple, and the city below us, I took in every moment, being grateful for having the opportunity to travel and spend time with Mark. Experiences and views like these don’t happen very often and when they do, I appreciate every moment.
Kyoto was my latest stop on my weekend adventures here in Japan and unfortunately, my friends and I weren’t able to do much. A typhoon hit in the middle of our trip, which led us to spending Sunday and Monday indoors for most of the time. This was also a reason why I didn’t take many pictures from this trip. I was trying to keep myself dry, but sadly my shoes and socks didn’t fare too well. On Saturday, before the strong rain hit, we visited Kiyomizu-dera, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Even though there were a ton of people there, I still enjoyed the site very much. It’s incredible how the temple is built on wooden stilts. I’m always amazed that it has never collapsed, especially since it’s made out of wood (yes, there are renovations done on the site, but still, think of all the typhoons, earthquakes, snow, and humidity that infiltrates Japan and how about termites?).
Jishu Shrine is located within the Kiyomizu-dera grounds and holds the love stones. Legend has it if you’re able to walk from one stone to the other with your eyes closed, you will find love. It may be slightly impossible with the amount of people in the way, but you can always try!
For the rest of the evening, we ate and walked around, soaking up the atmosphere. We were able to bond over dessert, which I’m thankful for! I’m glad I got to talk to my travel buddies, since we’re all first years on the program, going through the same emotions.
On Saturday, it started pouring, so we decided to try to indoor activities. This led us to visiting a tea house. We went to En Tea House, which I enjoyed very much. This was an intimate setting, but nothing too fancy. The host gave us a brief history about the tea ceremony in English and Japanese before showing us the ceremony. It was really relaxing to watch all her movements making the tea while listening to the rain fall outside. After the ceremony, we were able to make our own matcha tea. I’m not a big fan of green tea, so trying to drink all the tea was hard. It was so bitter!
After, my friend wanted to made up like a Maiko, an apprentice geisha, and have a photo shoot. At the place we found, they have different price ranges, but we chose the cheapest package since it was raining. The one we wanted to do would have let us walk around a garden and have more professional pictures done. There are a lot of places that do this, so if you’re interested, a quick search will lead you to various places. My co-workers said that I really do look like a Maiko, which I’ll take that as a compliment! I also showed my parents my picture and they couldn’t tell if it was me or not.
For dinner, since we were cold and wet from the rain, we were craving a warm bowl of ramen. Boy was this a great idea.
The next morning was our last day in Kyoto, before we had to go home. Unfortunately, the typhoon caused all the trains to stop in our prefecture because of a landslide. We weren’t going to leave until later in the afternoon, but we were worried that we would be stuck in Kyoto. We put that aside for a bit and enjoyed our last hours in Kyoto. For lunch, we ate at a popular okonomiyaki restaurant. All the blogs/travel guides led us to this place: Issen Yoshoku.
It’s a very quirky place, with obscene pictures on the walls and life size dolls sitting at some of the tables, but that just adds to the atmosphere. You don’t have a choice when it comes to ordering since there’s only one dish on the menu.
I was once again in food heaven. I love love love okonomiyaki and this place gives you a different style from Osaka’s. I’m definitely going to bring Mark here when we come back in January (which I’m totally excited for!).
We’re 2 and 0 for typhoon weekends now. My co-worker called me “Typhoon Girl” since I’ve traveled during two typhoons in my two months here. I’m having terrible luck with weather! Hopefully the next time I go somewhere, the weather will be fine. Nevertheless, I had a fun trip and this beautiful city inspires me to continue traveling and discovering all the gems in Japan and beyond.