I didn’t have that high expectations for my last day in Kyoto. I was just looking forward to pedalling around and then heading to a vegan place for lunch. I’d been told I had to go to Japan’s number one tourist attraction, Fushimi Inari-taisha, that in itself lowered my expectations to almost nothing!
I started the day with a morning run going north along the river, then washed, ate & put on a pretty dress, because, why not? Hopped on my rented bike (¥500, from the guesthouse) and headed down the river in the opposite direction. The plan was to follow the river for almost the whole journey but I hit a construction dead end and had to move up to the road.
Thankfully some Spanish guy also on a bike asked if I was heading to the Shrine and said that he’d take me there via the back streets ; he was on his way to Judo classes near by. Awesome. When he dropped me off by the river of people it was even busier than I could have imagined. I jumped off my bike and shuffled slowly towards the shrine with rows and rows of food stalls either side of me (some labelled ‘vegan’ wooo hoo – I was still full of my fabulous weetabix-coconut milk powder brekkie, but always good to see.)
I parked my bike and headed towards the orange toris. All the tori’s. Humps and I joined the mass shuffle towards Mt Inari. Inari is the God of rice, but more commonly known as the God of fortune. This is the biggest/head Shinto Shrine honouring him/her/it.
The shuffling in a (bright orange torii) tunnel reminded me of coming out the tube station on Arsenal match days. It was slow, sweaty, crowded, but I was happy. I’d decided that I probably didn’t want to do this all the way to the top and laughed to myself that I wouldn’t join the masses all aiming for fortune and business luck. Just like real life 😂
I took a little side path and found a grassy step to sit on, only 20 metres away but silent aside from the birds. Next to me was a gorgeous huge dragonfly. I sat in the sunshine writing in my journal, smiling away to myself about nothing in particular.
Deciding to join the masses once more I kept walking up and up, the crowds thinning out until at many points it was just me, humps and the Tori’s. We hit a couple of great view points over Kyoto – pics don’t do them any justice.
And so I just kept going up, abandoning my thoughts of going against the masses, and decided I was climbing the mountain of business fortune in aid of my vingebto brother and girlfriends new wine business in Banyuls sur Mer. What a generous and thoughtful sister I was.
Writing this I realise I learnt nothing about the shrine. Why, when it was built. By who.. I was just so happy to be there. The sun was shining, the fox guarded shrines were so bright and inviting, the bamboo towering around me. I was in a happy place, smiling inside and out.
When I reached the top I was expecting a spectacular 360 view of Kyoto… but actually there was no view. I made a wish at the shrine (thank me in a few years Bro!) and smiled happily with some Japanese kids that wanted a picture of me and my ‘super cool’ tattoos. Haha.
I then made my way down the other side, excited for food.
Vegans Cafe & Restaurant was amazing. I ordered a (huge) bowl of ramen and a chocolate milkshake. But when I overheard an American guy (in a Tragedy T-shirt) say how amazing the Black Sesame one was I changed my order. And it was so damn good. This place was a lot pricier than my previous meals but totally worth it. I also ordered a hummus pita for my plane trip home that night. Always more appealing than a standard airport dinner of oreos & pringles (though oreos in Japan aren’t actually vegan. Vegans take note.)
With a couple of hours to kill I slowly cycled back along side the river, initially on a small path passing incredibly beautiful houses with a suburban feel. Further up I stopped to take a nap before buying a couple of souvenirs and heading on out to the airport to board my bright pink plane once again.
So Japan. You really did it once again. Hiroshima really was something special – I didn’t expect to reach that level of content with the world once again, but from the snowy mountain top of Miyajima to the sun kissed summit of Mount Inari, you did it.
So, Okinawa.That’s a definite dive destination. But where else for a weekend trip in Japan? Suggestions most welcome!