It’s funny I am starting to write about my Kyoto trip with a post about Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine, because I was not even planning to go there in the first place. I didn’t think I would have time and since I had already been there during my first visit to Kyoto, I thought I would skip it in favor of seeing something new. But then two of my besties did a fair share of guilt tripping me, saying I shouldn’t miss an opportunity to see the place one more time. So on my last day I got up and headed South to revisit one of the most beautiful shrines in Kyoto. Fushimi Inari is truly a magical place. As crowded as it gets, but still magical. I have written in a greater detail about its history, but this time around I wanted to see a new side of Fushimi Inari, so to view it from a different perspective I stepped outside the tunnel of gates, and spent some time hiking in the forest alongside it. It was whole another level of beautiful. The combination of the endless row of vermilion torii gates and lush verdant forest creates a spectacular and one-of-a-kind sight. Since I also had some time to spare, I decided to hike as high as I could. You can spend as much time as you want in Fushimi Inari. It can be a quick 20-minute visit to tick off the box, or a good 4-hour hike with rest stops for meals and photos. The further up you go, more the crowd dies down, and more beautiful the surrounds become. You’ll come across a lovely pond and little shrines tucked away in the woods.
I probably spent an hour and a half hiking with frequent stops for pictures and I managed to reach only the mid-section. Instead of continuing the journey I decided to have a meal at one of the restaurants overlooking the forest. It was run by an elderly Japanese lady who lived in the same little house she served her guests. She was very nice and communicative, chatting with and inquiring after her guests, where we were from and what we did. It was quite high up on the hill reachable only by foot, so I figured she spent most of her days there and her visitors were her only source of entertainment. As I set in this little old house, slurping on my bowl of udon I felt so detached from the rest of the world. I couldn’t have felt more overjoyed for the beauty I was seeing through these floor-to-ceiling windows. So picturesque and peaceful at the same time. I am so glad I came because it ended up being one of my favorite experiences during this trip. Moral of the story: listen to your friends. ;)