We started our day with Joelle and I making breakfast for the group. Eggs, some kind of meat product, yogurt, Japanese pastries (more on that later), and fruit. We tackled the rice cooker and made some excellent rice to go with the whole thing. In a nutshell, a good start to a long day of walking.
We took the Keihan line to Fushimi-ku (just 4 stops from our little house), a small town and site of a remarkable Shinto shrine. The hike through the forest and through 10,000 of these gates was such a refreshing experience as a way of leaving the crowds behind and finding the connection between nature and religion.
We found our way to the top of Mt. Inari and looked over the city of Kyoto. Along the way we stopped at a variety of waterfalls, ritual sites, and more than one snack stands. A few of us bought candle to burn for loved ones (as you will see in the photos) and really grabbed just a little of the tranquility promised on the hike.
After our hike we grabbed lunch at little place right across from the train station. The food was exceptional. The variety of flavors in our rice bowls and ramen is worth the visit…just across the tracks from the train platform.
From Fushimi our plan was to go to the Heian Shrine and Gardens….alas our journey was in vain; the gardens now require a special permit only Japanese tour guides can acquire…we were left OUT. However, we turned that experience into a chance to spread out in Kyoto and find our own way in the city. We divided into small groups and spent time in the Shijo area….some of us found a souvenir or two, others were content to wander in the reckless abandon that is shopping!
In the evening we settled into a place called Sumiko, a cave-like place (actually, it looked like a cave) in the basement of a building on the canal in Kyoto….the food was interesting and we had a meal shared with a variety of selections off a very eclectic menu….needless to say, we had some fun making fun of Austin…no, really.
However, by far the coolest thing was on our walk home. We met a man who print traditional wood block prints using original cherry wood blocks of the Ukyio-e artists.
We purchased a few of his creations and heard about his wonderful life as a wood block artist….seems like on almost every corner you can find something new in this city.
Tomorrow it’s Shinkansen, Narita airport and on to Bangkok!