Monday 16th January 2023
Today is our last day in Kyoto before setting off on our epic train adventure and we have saved Kyoto’s most popular attraction until last. Suitable fuelled with egg mayonnaise and chicken teriyaki sandwiches, we set off for Fushimi Inari Taisha.
Fushimi Inari Taisha
We take the train to Fushimi Inari Station, which brings you right to the entrance to the shrine. After running a gauntlet of foxes, we come to the start of the torii path. This shrine complex consists of a total of four of paths, lined with thousands upon thousands of red torii gates. Plus plenty of stone foxes.
Inari is the deity responsible for good harvest and success in business. And the fox is believed to be his messenger. Hence the proliferation of shrines and foxes. The monks charge from Y40,000 to erect a torii to bring good luck to your crops/business. Hence the continuous lines of them winding up and up the mountainside.
The complex is extremely crowded with hoards of people all vying to take photos of themselves and nobody else. It’s a 4 kilometre trail. Uphill. With lots and lots of stairs. I figure all we have to do is outlast some of the less hardy tourists and the crowds will diminish.
Obviously, I’m right and we get some nice, people free photos en route to a viewpoint overlooking the city.
At this point, we have been climbing for half an hour and I decide there is little to gain from walking up more stairs past more identical red gates. But the old man is undeterred. There is a summit and he is going to reach it.
So I find somewhere to sit and take charge of the coats (they were definitely a mistake today) while he soldiers on up the hill of never ending torri.
Some considerable time later, I start to recognise some of the people coming back down the trail. So I wait expectantly. Finally, the old man reappears and we can complete our descent and catch our train back to Kyoto.
Shrine toilet report; only at the bottom – the mountain is considered too sacred to do your business on.
Dinner at Tops Cafe
We have definitely earned our dinner today and go in search of katsu curry. We find a place behind Kyoto Station which has both katsu and an English menu, which good because (a) we know what we’re going to eat in advance of it arriving at the table and (b) it’s self order which we obviously wouldn’t be able to manage in Japanese.
To be honest, the system is a little complicated for two foreign wrinklies and we end up with rather a lot of food.
But I have my katsu curry (amongst a whole range of other stuff) so I’m happy. And it’s a good curry. So I’m extra happy.
And that concludes our last day in Kyoto. After reserving our seats on tomorrow’s bullet trains, we return to the hotel to pack and then bed. Today’s bath salts are ‘Forest’; a rather alarming shade of green. I fear I shall emerge from the bath looking like Princess Fiona.