This was definitely the best day in Kyoto.
We get up early following the wisdom of VP and enjoyed a mostly empty Fushimi Inari Shrine, which is the Insta-famous shrine with its hundreds of red torii gates lined up one after the other, creating a beautiful red tunnel that people like to pose in. We took many of these sorts of pictures while we hiked up the mountain. Frankly, I didn’t read much about what we were doing before the trip, and I thought there would only be one particular strip of torii gates that would be the spot. In reality, there’s tons of them, all over, during the 2 hour hike, and they are various sizes.
It’s a little trippy going up the mountain because without the maps, many parts seem familiar in some manner. The pattern would be strip of torii gates, hill with torii gates, some steps, a family shrine, repeat. Eventually after a few of these similar cycles we reached the peak of the mountain, which was anticlimactic in a way because at least based on my limited exposure to other sorts of hiking I’m used to a clearing at the top where you can sorta see what’s below, and if you’re lucky, some body of water. At the top we saw yet another family shrine and a sign that said “peak”, and that was it. I was amused.
We speed run the way back down and head over to our next shrine, which was unfortunately under construction. The scaffolding was sorta cool – it looked so fragile but and a cool tessellation effect. We laughed about how the picture in the postcard showed it in peak season with pretty leaves and compared it to our current version mostly hidden away behind the construction as a sort of expectations vs reality moment.
As we exit we pass by numerous shops. Some of us buy matcha products and dessert; I have a longer trip (staying in Japan for more days than the rest of the group) so I don’t buy perishables just yet. I instead try a bunch of pickled veggies, feeling kinda bad that I wasn’t buying any of them but enjoying every bite.
Afterwards we wander around a food market street, grabbing snacks because we are famished from all the exercise. It’s a cool and quaint street. We get lunch soon after and its a multiple course meal giving a nice showcase of Japan’s signature foods – raw fish, pickles, tempura, miso soup, and things I cannot name.
We head back to the market and I buy tea! I’m a huge fan of hojicha, which is a roasted green tea. It was something I had hoped to buy, so this was very fitting.
Dinner is at a Buzzfeed-famous place called Kichi Kichi Omurice. Our chef was a gentle looking, grandpa-vibes man with thin arms that could still flip an omelet and rice in a huge cast-iron? wok with ease. He cracked jokes and did a fantastic job and really milked the camera attention that almost everyone in the place was giving him. The omurice itself was delicious and more filling than it looked.
We walk back along the riverbank, where people are lounging about, enjoying the evening temperatures. It was perfect.