Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fushimi Inari, Golden Pavilion and Arashiyama

On our 8th day in Japan, we made our pilgrimage to the Fushimi Inari Shrine.

It was a hard slog up allll those stairs but the view at the top was worth it. Walking through the forest reminded me a bit of the New Zealand bush. The vermillion Torii make it a magical adventure up the slopes of the mountain, behind the shrine.

I particularily the fox statues. The kitsune (fox) is said to be the messenger of Inari Kami (god).

I found myself enjoying the red gates and great views of the city despite the hordes of tourists and stacks of stairs. After meeting Inari we went back to Kyoto station for lunch. I got Mcdonalds and Rach got a bento box from the supaa (convenience store) up the road from our hotel Citadines on Gojo Street.

After a rest we then made our way back to the bus stop where we met our cooking teacher,Taro.

The Golden Pavilion was an amazing building on the edge of a large pond. The top two levels are gilded in gold and the surrounding gardens have a mossy floor with meticulously manicured gardens.

After paying about $5 each and a walk around the pavilion we wandered down the road, a little, to Ryoanji where a famous rock garden is situated. Its 500 years old... lucky its a garden of rocks or it would have died.

The surrounding gardens are the best we have seen yet! Pretty Sakura and an even bigger pond (Im sure there is no competition between Shrines though /wink /wink)

A unique wash basin of stone. "Tsukubai":

As we had to catch the train from Arishiyama back to the hotel, Rachel had an amazing idea! To head back to the Bamboo forest.... a stroke of genius. At 5pm there were only a handful of people about so we were able to enjoy the light rain in the bamboo and the peaceful serenity of ancient Japan. I also got a few great photos of the upper forest without any tourists spoiling the outlook.

After the bamboo forest success we headed past the station to get a few shots of the Moon Crossing bridge and the cherry blossoms in the hills around Iwatayama.

Now it was time to head home and rest our weary feet. We trekked back through surburbia to the JRstation and made our way through the rain back to our Hotel. The city at night is actually quite pretty in the rain.


  1. hi there,

    great photos!

    i was wondering at what time of the day did you make out to the fushimi inari shrine? you've managed to capture great shots at each of these locations with very little people in the way. I'm going to travel there next month and am planning to do the same route except maybe in a different order to avoid crowds.

    9:30 am Ryoan-ji temple (then Kinkakuji quickly),
    11:30? Arashiyama bambo forest, go back to the main kyoto area for lunch, then to the red torii fushimi inari shrine and hike all the way up till sunset. Sunsets around 5:10 in late october....

    Do you think it's a reasonable itinerary? it seems like a lot in one day and treking across Kyoto


    1. Thanks Gotchi,
      We went to Fushimi Inari mid morning from 10 to 12 roughly.
      We were there in spring so people were mainly focused on Cherry Blossom viewing and the unpredictable weather kept people away. It was about being patient as there were still quite a few people. I didn’t manage to get a shot at the start of the two ‘red gate tunnels’ as there were people milling about and passing by for about ten minutes. After that long it was clear I wasn’t going to get the shot I wanted so moved on.
      Ryoan-ji was great. Not too many people and the grounds are very large, great gardens. The rock garden was busier however but I was still able to sit very close to it.
      Kinkau-ji is not far from Ryoan-ji (20-30 minutes apart) and wont take as long to walk around but is worth it!!
      To get to the Bamboo forest my wife suggested going back to the central station and getting the train to Arashiyama as its about an hours walk from the shrine. We were at the bamboo forest about 5pm to get the best shots. But early morning it wasn’t all that busy either.
      There is also the moon crossing bridge in Arashiyama reasonably near the bamboo. And you can hike up the hill to visit wild monkeys and get a nice view of the city. The monkeys cost about $5.00 New Zealand.
      Heading back to town for lunch would be good the malls have some good food but we found some great places on the way to arashiyama and had lunch there. It was cheaper and very tasty.
      It would be great to be able to hike up the Fushimi Inari paths and see the sunset. We were too lazy to hike all the way to the top. I wasn’t impressed with the view we had near the top though.
      It is a lot to fit in but it will be worth it. I would be sure to plan it down to the details so you know which trains to catch and how far to walk. The trains are reliable so you don’t have to worry about that.
      Enjoy, Kyoto was amazing!