September 8, 2014

Magical Kyoto, part two

On our second morning in Kyoto, we found this awesome little bakery, right around the corner from our hotel, Boulangerie Shinshindo. Japanese bakeries really do rival their French counterparts, in my opinion.

Eva's breakfast was kind of an eclectic mix of stuff, but she loved it. Then it was on to another full day of sight-seeing.

An umbrella locker, outside of our hotel.

Fushimi Inari Shrine
Of all the amazing things we saw on this trip, this was my favorite. Fushimi Inari Shrine is an important Shinto shrine dedicated to Inari, the god of rice. The shrine itself was beautiful, but even more impressive were the 1,000 + torii gates, side by side, extending all the way up a mountain trail. The trail leads to the top of Mount Inari, which is about a 2-3 hour hike. We did not climb to the top this time, but I would love to do it in the future.

It is customary to wash your hands and mouth before entering the shrine, so every shrine will have a hand washing station located near the front. Matt decided to give it a try.

The torii gates, dedicated to Inari, have been donated by people, or companies, and range in price from Y400,000 up to over one million yen!

They were beautiful!

It was quite a lovely hike, with beautiful, lush surroundings.

There were several monuments along the trail as well (and a few ramen restaurants, of course!)

These gates were also donated, and probably more in my price range!

We followed the trail for quite a while, but were nowhere near the top. I hear the views of Kyoto are wonderful from there. Next time...

Cats are revered in Japan. In Japanese folklore, cats had protective power and symbolized good fortune, so you will often see stray's, even in the heart of the city. Eva noticed these kittens high up in one of the torii gates. Kawaii! (The paparazzi then ensued!)

On our way back down the path, you could see the inscriptions of the people or businesses who donated. It looked really cool.


We had a bit of rain in the morning, but it cleared up for the rest of the day. I just love the brilliant vermillion bridge against the green backdrop.

You almost always exit a shrine, through the gift shop!

Gorgeous. Now, off to the next temple.

Most of the side streets in Japan are very narrow and look like one-way streets, but are actually two-way streets, like this one. Sometimes it feels like you are in a live video game, with bikes, pedestrians and cars coming at you from every angle!

Toji Temple
Next up, the Toji Temple. This monument's claim to fame, is the five storied pagoda, which is Japan's tallest. The pagoda is also illuminated at night and is one of the first landmark's seen when entering the city.


The Japanese take special care in preserving old plants and trees. The limbs of this tree are propped up on supports, so they won't break. I see this quite frequently.

This is the temple. We were not allowed to photograph inside, but it had enormous Buddha statues and other artifacts.


We saw some monks praying and chanting outside this smaller building. 

Nishiki Market
At this point, Matt admitted to being "templed out", so we headed to the Nishiki Market area for the afternoon. There were many covered shopping streets, like this one on the way to the market, selling everything you could imagine.

Kawaii!

There are some amazing textile shops in Japan, makes me wish I knew how to sew!

The Nishiki Market is a narrow corridor full of food stalls. It was really fun to browse and sample local food items. This store had miso covered-everything!

Octopus-on-a-stick.

Lots of different fish items.

There were also lots of samples out. We enjoyed trying different things this way.

We walked along Kawaramachi Street on our way back to the hotel. This is the high end shopping area, with stores from every imaginable designer. I loved how the entire length of the street was lined with this overhang, which was nice, rain or shine. Classical music was also piped in on speakers. Loved this!

We spent the evening, (both of them, as a matter of fact), walking Gion, the geisha district. (I loved this area SO much, that it gets it's own blog!) Luckily, we did find a much better restaurant for dinner. A little hole in the wall, called ChaoChao Gyoza, and it was packed with locals. Always a good sign, right?

Japanese restaurants almost always bring you a warm (or cold, in the summertime) towel to wipe your hands prior to the meal. Even fast food places will usually provide a wet nap. I love this!

Most restaurants are very small and only seat a few people with a counter, and a few tables. This one probably sat about 25 people.

Mmmm, gyoza. (Eva loved it, just looks like she didn't because it was hot!)


Another great day, with a much nicer ending! Gion, the geisha district, up next.











3 comments:

  1. Those gyoza look so dang good. Once again, that scenery --with all of those gates -- is just stunning. I am really really looking forward to that geisha post!

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  2. Wait -- I forgot! Octopus on a stick!!!

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  3. This looks so fun. I never pictured Japan being so beautiful though I don't know why.

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