After a great time at Shirahama especially the wonderful stay at Hotel Sanrakuso, it’s time to move on to Kyoto (京都). Japan’s capital for centuries before passing the baton to Tokyo, Kyoto role as the country cultural centre remain. While Tokyo leads in technology and skyscrapers, Kyoto glorious past and its rich heritage continue to shine. It is also the best place to experience and learn about Japan cultural tradition. The main attractions are the countless temples and shrines, which many of them are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. It would be an enormous feat to visit all the temples and shrines in the city of Zen-ness!
Finally arrived at the amazing Kyoto Station and I can’t wait to explore this ancient city.
Fushimi Inari Taisha
One place which I absolutely wanted to visit is Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社). It is a shrine dedicated to Inari, the god of rice. If you have watched “Memoirs of a Geisha” before, there’s this scene where young Chiyo was running along a footpath between the bright orangey Torii (Japanese gates).
The seemingly endless rows of Torii and the engaging violin music certainly left a lasting impression. In which I made a mental note to visit for our Kyoto temple shrine hopping trip. Getting to Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine is two stops from Kyoto Station taking the JR Nara line. And the shrine’s main entrance is a short walk from JR Inari station.
It is impossible to miss the two huge orange torii leading to the famous Romon Gate donated by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉). I am sure gamers who have played Nobunaga’s Ambition (信長の野望) will be no strangers to that name.
One unusual sight here is seeing a pair of fox statues guarding the shrine’s entrance rather than the commonly seen lion-dog statue.
That’s because foxes are thought to be Inari’s messengers and some foxes carry the key to rice granary in their mouths. In folklore, the fox statues are said to come alive and cause mischief when night falls.
After stopping to pray at the shrine, we proceed to Senbon Torii (千本鳥居) next.
Famous Torii of Fushimi Inari Taisha
Seeing thousands of torii lining along the footpath is one overwhelming experience. What a spectacular sight it is! Absolutely gorgeous!! We noticed most of the torii are donated by individuals and companies after reading the inscription. And it is easy to tell the new Torii apart from the older ones that have brave the weather.
Walking along the footpath is an incredible experience amid some overdose of orange mania lol. The path leading up to Mount Inari is open even after the shrine is closed at night. Hmm… cannot figure out why anyone will visit here at night though.
We walk as far as we could before turning back. The visit to this visually stunning and mystifying Inari shrine did not disappoint. It is surely one of the highlights of our trip.
The mini version of Torii is for writing wishes and hopes on it. And there is the ema which is fox-shaped. Fox Shrine and fox ema? Very interesting indeed!
STAY: Hotel MyStays Kyoto Shijo review
Our base is Hotel MyStays Kyoto Shijo and I must say this is a great place to stay. Conveniently located within a short walk from Shijo subway station on Kyoto Karasuma line, free internet access and the reasonable rates met all my pre-requisites. It is also close to supermarket, restaurants and convenient stores.
Hotel MyStays Kyoto Shijo is within walking distance to Kyoto shopping area. Else the bus stops in front of the hotel have different buses to bring you all to the city. Just check with the reception staff on which bus goes to which Kyoto attractions. You can also purchase the bus pass from them too.
The hotel lobby is on the second floor and there are English-speaking staffs at the reception. Most of all, the staffs are very helpful with our travel related questions.
The room is small and compact, just how I expect from a Japanese hotel. Amid lacking in size, the spotlessly clean room is very comfy for a good rest.
Hotel MyStays Kyoto Shijo
52, Kasabokocho, Higashiiru, Aburanokoji, Shijyo-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 600-8494, Japan