Tour of the Temples, 2nd September 2017

  • Fushimi Inari-taisha
  • Shinfuku-ji Temple
  • Kiyomizu-dera Temple

We woke and stopped for a hearty meal of tempura and rice to start the day off. Then we caught a couple of trains to Inari which is where Fushimi Inari-taisha was. These are the iconic Japanese red arches that lead up to the Inari temple, (Inari is the god of rice). We soon arrived and saw one of the huge archways outside of the train station. We followed the pathway which lead to a temple surrounded by crowds of people. The archways here were guarded by two foxes each with a different item in its mouth.

Fox guarding the gateway to the shrine
Japanese writings on the rear of the archways

We continued on the path and the intermittent archways. Then at the foot of the hill the gateways were placed one after the other to form a tunnel of archways over the path. It was a fantastic spectacle and each archway had been constructed at different times and had a series of Japanese characters on the back of each of the posts.
We carried on up the hill until we reached a section where a sign stated that we could hike to the top and there were 10 stations along the way.

So we decided to tackle the hike, the trial started off steep and stayed at that for all of the way. We wove through the hills and along the archway covered paths. After a while we made it to the top and found the temple which had a series of concrete tomb stones. Presumably for the monks that practiced there. We zig zagged through and along another path and came to a clearing in the forest. You could see over the entire city and it looked fantastic. The green mountain range in the background provided a superb contrast between it and the bight blue sky. And in the forefront the hustling bustling city of kyoto.

View from the top

After soaking up the view we took a different route down which was really steep. So we began to run and managed to leg it most of the way down without face planting.
The path brought us out into a suburban area and we stumbled across Shinfuku-ji which is one of the oldest zen temples in Japan. We wondered around the courtyard taking in the buildings architecture. Each building was a work of art which must have taken years to construct.

Shinfuku-ji Temple
Dragons on top of the temple

After this we set our sites on reaching Kiyomizu-dera which was about a 2.5km walk so not too far and we could explore along the way. This temple boasts 1200 years of history and is an iconic temple of kyoto located in the hills. We began walking and on the way encountered an antique shop which had bizarre items inside of it. It was more like an eccentrics collection that had been acquired over years and it was interesting to look around. There were trays or small plastic baby toys, matchstick boxes, fans, geishas and various vintage signs to name a few.
We soon made it to the foot of the hill to the temple and stopped at a  few shops along the way to see what was on offer.

Soon we made it to the temple and unfortunately the main hall was under construction but it was still interesting to look inside of it. The were crowds of people walking through. It was interesting to see how they had placed the wooden scaffolding around the existing trees limbs and branches. Back home they would have just got rid of the tree but the Japanese have a real respect for nature and understand its importance. I suppose in an ever increasing urban world nature becomes more important but many people won’t realise that until it’s too late.

Scaffolding around the temple

We walked around the temple and found the love stones. Two stones around 10m from each other. The idea was that if you could walk from one to the other with your eyes shut then you would find true love. The stone you walked to was about 1m away from the staircase and that’s where I nearly ended falling down when I tried to find the stone.
Becky had a go and managed to find it with a little help from some spectators.

The Love Stone

After this we walked along the hill side and came to a bright orange pegoda which you could see the temple from and a view over the city.

Me and Becky at the Pegoda at Kiyomizu-dera

After exploring the temples we headed back to our guesthouse for a rest and a change. We freshened up and then went and got some dinner. We got a bowl of ramen and gyoza (fried dumplings) with rice which apparently was for one but filled us both up and called it a night our last in kyoto.

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