Saturday, March 3, 2018

A Big Day - Food Market, Museum. Temple, and a Mountain to Climb

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From our intial "to-do" list of Kyoto sites we narrowed it down to two more days of touring.  In addition to what we did today, we have one more day planned to visit the bamboo forest and monkey park.

Today we planned a pretty aggressive day of walking and climbing.  As you can see the end result was a huge accomplishment.

We started out with a early Saturday morning train to Kyoto.  The train was quietly inhabited with a few local folks...all on devices...including Bobbie.
Lots of young folks and some tourists had rented kimonos for the day and the costumes were everywhere and very colorful.
Our first stop was the Niniski Food Market with block after block of covered arcades full of food vendors,  Pickled cucumbers and daikon are the Kyoto speciality.
Lot of baby octopus and squid.
Fried and glazed sweet potatoes.
An ice cream filled crepe.

Dried shrimp eaten like popcorn and really good.

Four jumbo shrimp on a stick for $5.

Sea Urchin.
BBQ favorite.
We walked the arcades sampling lots of food, then headed out onto the busy shopping street.  This building, all five floors, is all food...restuarants, shops, stalls...amazing.
In route to the National Museum we came across this peace garden with a beautiful bridge and gardens.

The National Museums main building was built in the middle 19th century and resembled French architecture of that period.
We had our picnic lunch at the fountain before viewing the exhibits.  Sorry no photos allowedl
This picture was taken at a train station in route to the Inari Temple.
The Fushimi Inari Shrine is an important Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto. It is famous for its ten thousand (yes, 10,000) vermilion torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings. The trails lead into the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari, which stands at 233 meters and belongs to the shrine grounds.
Fushimi Inari is the most important of several thousands of shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. Foxes are thought to be Inari's messengers, resulting in many fox statues across the shrine grounds. Fushimi Inari Shrine has ancient origins, predating the capital's move to Kyoto in 794.
While the primary reason most foreign visitors come to Fushimi Inari Shrine is to explore the mountain trails, the shrine buildings themselves are also attractive. At the shrine's entrance stands the Romon Gate, which was donated in 1589 by the famous leader Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Behind stands the shrine's main hall (honden) where visitors should pay respect to the resident deity by making a small offering.
At the very back of the shrine's main grounds is the entrance to the torii gate-covered hiking trail, which starts with two dense, parallel rows of gates called Senbon Torii ("thousands of torii gates"). The torii gates along the entire trail are donations by individuals and companies, and you will find the donator's name and the date of the donation inscribed on the back of each gate. The cost starts around 400,000 yen for a small sized gate and increases to over one million yen for a large gate.
The hike to the summit of the mountain and back takes about 2-3 hours, however, visitors are free to walk just as far as they wish before turning back. We went all the way to the top...over 3,500 steps and a couple of hours up and down.  Along the way, there are multiple smaller shrines with stacks of miniature torii gates that were donated by visitors with smaller budgets. There are also a few restaurants along the way, which offer locally themed dishes such as Inari Sushi and Kitsune Udon ("Fox Udon"), both featuring pieces of aburaage (fried tofu), said to be a favorite food of foxes.
This is the main gate to the shrine.  The streets are full of shops.

Foxes guard all of the entrances.

The torii gates begin along the path leading up the mountain and continue for miles.

The crowds thinned out as we got closer to the top.

Little shrines were every few hundred feet.

 Views from the midpoint lookout.  One third of the way to the top.

The halfway mark.  Another hour to go.

Absolutely amazing and so glad we did this...although very tired,.
A giant bamboo forest along the way.

And back down to the shrine entrance.
We lucked out and caught an express train back to Osaka and were  home in 45 minutes.  Pasta night!  Deserved.

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