A late update! Yikes! I was pretty tired from running around all around Kyoto and its surrounding areas so this post and its corresponding video has been delayed for a while. But here it is!!
FUSHIMI INARI TAISHA:
The morning after Miyajima and Himeji castle, I took off to see Fushimi Inari Taisha. It is famous for its thousands of torii that line the path behind the main building. In the sun, the torii glow bright red and its a breathtaking and highly recommended sight to see. I thought it would be most fitting to go in my yukata but did not realize that there would a hike and wore my geta (sandals for yukatas. Not the best thing to wear when hiking). I’d say wear some good shoes and bring lots of water.
I woke up at 5AM in order to get to Fushimi Inari Taisha at 7AM (I took a while to get my yukata on) so I could avoid the massive crowd of tourist that start to flock in around 8AM. Definitely do the same as I did because once more people come, it’s hard getting a photo with just yourself and the torii. The hiking path also starts to fill up with chatter from the crowds and one of the best parts of this hike is the beautiful quiet that comes with it.
It’s only a 5 minute train ride from Kyoto station to Fushimi Inari Taisha so there’s no need to wake up at 5AM like I did! I have also heard that this place is really pretty in the evening and not many people go once the sun starts to sink because being here when it’s getting dark can be a bit creepy. I would have loved to try going at night but, unfortunately, did not have time.
TOGETSUKYO BRIDGE “MOON CROSSING BRIDGE”:
After seeing the gorgeous torii, I went to see the Togetsukyo Bridge. The Katsura River flows under this massive bridge and even though it was packed with people by the time I got there, it was still really pretty. There are boats you can take on the river and, I am told, you can also eat a meal on these boats, but I felt a little hot and opted to eat kakigori (shaved ice) on the other side of the bridge instead.
KINKAKU-JI “GOLDEN PAVILLION”:
This stunning Zen temple is completely covered in gold and, in the sun, it glows brightly. Entry inside the temple is prohibited but there are pictures outside that show what the inside looks like (all gold!) and what this place looks like during winter. The golden temple really stands out in the white snow! It’s something that I would like to see one day in the future.
It’s 400 yen to enter and there’s a path you follow after seeing the temple that takes you through the forest and out. At the end, you can also purchase fortunes in a machine by the small shrine by the exit. Mine said that I had “Good luck”!
When I came to see the Nijo Castle, I was a little worried that I would have to walk up several steep flights of stairs again like in Himeji Castle. It turns out, I did not have to worry at all! Nijo Castle was pretty flat and did not have any stairs that needed to be climbed. It was also much prettier than Himeji Castle with massive gardens, spacious rooms, and gorgeous wall paintings that the former castle lacked.
The group inside the castle are a special kind of floor, called a Nightingale floor. Since this castle was building for the first shogun of the Edo Period, the shogun had to worry about assassins trying to kill him. Every step taken on this floor emits a chirping sound to alert others in the area of someone walking around. The sound isn’t obnoxious and its name is quite fitting as the boards sound like a bird singing.
Looking for some of the fluffiest and most delicious pancakes you’ve ever eaten in your life? Well Fleur has exactly what you’re looking for! It’s a 5 minute walk from Kyoto Station and opens at 11AM but you should get there a bit earlier to put your name on the list. The pancakes also take about 50 minutes to make so don’t come starving!
I got the limited edition pancakes and though I forget the name, I know it had to do something with lemons. I would go back in a heartbeat. The pancakes were divine and melted the moment they touched your tongue. This is a popular date spot so if you go alone (like me) the waitresses may give you strange stares at first! It’s definitely worth it for those pancakes though!
The ice cream and cream that came with my pancakes were a bit too sweet (even for my sweet tooth!) but the pancakes were perfect so one of the other, less sugary, options may be the way to.
After all that traveling and not so much sleeping, I decided to spend my last day relaxing. So, after stuffing myself with pancakes, I headed over to Kurama Village to bask in their onsen. It was a little more complicated getting to Kurama than anywhere else I had gone before just because I had to take 3 trains to get there and 2 of them weren’t covered by my JR Pass so I had to refill my train card several times along the way.
The onsen is pretty small but super warm and it had a spectacular view of the mountain next to the village. There’s an indoor and outdoor bath but if you pay 1,000 yen, you can only go into the outdoor bath while it is 2,500 yen for access to both baths, towels, and a yukata. Personally, I think outdoor baths are always going to be more fun so I just paid for the outdoor bath and bought a 400 yen face towel that I was allowed to keep.
Wheew, that was a lot! I hope you enjoyed this post, I know that I just briefly covered a lot of topics so if you have any questions or need any clarification, please let me know!
Warning 1: Heat levels are at an all-time high this year and probably will continue to climb in the coming years so please remember to drink water and eat salty things (something Japanese people always say to do, the salt helps your body retain water!).
Warning 2: There are so many bugs!!! The reason I had to leave Kurama Onsen after about an hour was because of the massive bugs that were flying around the bath. Always wear bug repellant because those bites are not fun! I have been eaten alive by all sorts of insects and bug repellant is a life saver.