Day 15 | Kyoto
We got up early to beat the crowds to the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest on the outskirts of Kyoto. We have seen a lot of amazing photos of this place, but no picture can quite capture the feeling of standing in the midst of the bamboo grove, it almost feels like you are in another world. After an early lunch we made our way up the to Shogunzuka mound where Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka has built a transparent glass tea house next to the Shoren-in Temple overlooking the city of Kyoto. It was so peaceful to sit next to the tea house in the sun and enjoy a quite moment watching the city.
It was still early afternoon so our next stop was the Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine and its thousands of torii gates which line the trail leading through the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari. We had only seen photos of small sections of the tunnel of tori gates and didn't realise how many torii gates there are which line the trail the entire way up the mountain. The torii gates along the trail are donations and you can see the donator's name and the date of the donation inscribed on the back of each gate. There are also many fox statues in the many shrines along the trail, as foxes are thought to be Inari's messengers. The hike to the summit of the mountain and back takes about 2-3 hours, and after reaching the top we made our way back down to one of the many little restaurants and tea houses along the trail to sit for a drink and watch the sun setting over the city.
While we were looking forward to visiting all of these places, they truely exceeded our expectations. Photos don't do justice to the scale and beauty of these places, and you can tell why so many people visit every single day.