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Japan Journal Day 5: Kyoto on a Budget

It finally happened: my downfall. I had zero sleep thanks to a whole night of my brother's snoring and a terrible hotel room (Loisir Hotel Kyoto Toji). However, I was still determined to see the Inari Fushimi Shrine and the Hanamachi.

Why is the hotel horrible? It's new. This means many things were designed with aesthetics over functionality. The room window, even when fully closed, has a gap, making the draft come in. It has no soundproofing from the outside as if my brother's snoring wasn't horrible enough. The heater and humidifier weren't exactly functioning as intended due to the way they were installed, and there wasn't much room to put any of our things.

Anyway, this was breakfast. I finally tried the yakisoba bread. I took my brother's coffee by mistake but whatever. I can't drink coffee for a while now because I gained mild gastric.

After breakfast, me screaming at my brother because he kept me up all night and fighting, we finally made our way out into the chilly air. It was cold enough that we could see our breaths turn into mist.

Catching the train from Kyoto station was confusing because of all the trains in one place. We found the wrong exit after exit and couldn't get the tickets right because somebody didn't trust my ability to read signboards over my sense of direction.

There were many people, foreigners and tourists alike. We went rather early in the morning, but there was already a considerable crowd. With the new year approaching, this should have been expected.

There were so many statues here, but I realised later that not all of them were foxes. It was a mix of religions in one place, with many family shrines and companies sponsoring the gates of this massive place.

We passed by all the prayer shrines after a picture because there wasn't much to ask for, and it wasn't our religious practice.

Nevertheless, it remains a beautiful sight for the eyes.

This isn't the actual full map. However, my brother was in charge of the route, so he intended to drag me for a 17km hike. Of course, it was insane. So I wasn't going to make it.

The off-track paths were more rewarding than the main paths in Fushimi Inari Shrine as they offer a more authentic side of the culture compared to the main paths that have been polished for picturesque tourism. It's not making it to the top that matters most. It's the journey of having tried climbing and failing that mattered more.

Many shops weren't open at the time that we went. It was probably for the better.

Many people have already written their wishes. There is barely any space on this to tie more. However, I'm sure people would find ways.

With so many smaller shrines littered on the mountain, there's honestly no need to queue in line at the main one. I don't think the size of the shrine directly represents the god overseeing your wishes.

There's a lion stone statue here beside the fox. I realised that, like the lion, these foxes come in pairs and hold different items in their mouths. Apart from lions, there were also frogs and a Chinese Zodiac animal shrine.

The tea house was closed, but they usually host tea ceremony sessions here for tourists.

An example of a fox holding an item in its mouth. This one was fierce.

From here, we branched off to the side path. It was also where I pointed at a crow, and it flew down to attack my brother. I developed a slight crow phobia after that.

Unlike the crow, this guy was nice. He was just bing chilling in the icy waters in the early morning before even the ducks could get there. Early bird for sure.

This was meant to be a holy rice paddy field, but it's winter, so just admire the stone steps.

After revisiting the main path, I spotted what I thought was a unicorn. As it turned out, it's the horse that carried the Tripitaka in Journey to the West.

The start of a long climb.

The first thousand gates. The sponsors of these gates could be seen on the back of them.

It was still the first thousand gates, so there were many tourists. We just followed the crowd, although some wannabe influencers went to the other side of the gates where it was meant to exit to film. Rude!

An interesting wall of wishes where you can draw your own fox face. I saw several interesting ones, from Manly Jojo to Kawaii Pikachu fox faces.

The wishing stone was very weathered.

Due to time and my health, we couldn't visit Arashimaya Bamboo Forest as intended. However, there were also bamboo groves in patches along Fushimi Inari Mountain if you looked close enough.

Many of these gates were made of wood.

However, I discovered one made of stone. The paint had completely fallen off.

This is one of the numerous smaller shrines.

I have a feeling this belonged to a family.

Again we strayed from the main path and found ourselves looking at a forest. I'm so glad we didn't come here during the night. It would have been terrifying.

I don't know whose idea it was to make a stone tower but I hope their wishes all came true. Also, not before the stray cat on the mountain knocks it over.

You know my obsession with lamps by now.

A cluster of shrines that almost looked like a village. Not all of them are well-maintained. The owners might no longer be here.

This one was holding a ball in its mouth.

The view of the morning sun filtering into the forest onto the lake behind the family shrines had me clicking away.

A scenic breather because we weren't even halfway up that mountain, but I was already feeling faint.

Look at how steep that was. Yet, there's still a long way to go. The number of tourists was also getting fewer as we climbed higher.

Surrounded by bamboo.

One of the best scenic spots, in my opinion.

I found the first shop that was open!

So many cute souvenirs, but not one caught my eye. I was looking for something more specific.

Up we go! My knees were dying.

I guess this counts as seeing an actual bamboo forest by now.

Can't tell if it was a mushroom or diseased tree.

Charming little houses and shops along the mountain that sell an assortment of things. I can't believe the delivery man actually climbed all the way up here. It's a cafe.

Don't know if that's a fox, a crocodile or a dragon.

The red ones actually would have fitted me. But I have no need for indoor slippers.

After getting my Omamori charms, I saw this in the next shop. It was so adorable!

More wells.

A neat little garden of sorts.

Definitely was closed.

I honestly wanted to try the sweet wine that wasn't alcoholic and the croquet. Too bad they weren't open.

You could see how far we climbed before I had to give up and turn back down. The dizziness didn't help me as I took the photo.

The zodiac shrine where I found mine!

I don't know what this is, but it's there with the zodiacs.

Daruma dolls are funny here.

Due to my health, we decided to head back to the hotel. However, we had to eat lunch first. In Kyoto, sushi is a must.

There were many interesting items on the menu. I tried fugu and snow crab here alongside horse meat and the pressed pike conger. Every sushi made on the conveyor belt came with wasabi, apparently.

I've never seen such a rectangular sushi.

After resting for a few hours and tending to my sick self, my brother called me out for dinner at Gion. I took a bus myself and definitely fucked up trying to drop my fare fees in the coin box. I dropped it in the coin converter instead.

This was my brother's dinner. It's cold noodles that reminded me of jajang noodles when he mixed it all in.

This was mine. I finally ordered something that my stomach could finish.

After a warm dinner, we went back into the cold to walk to the Hanamachi districts. The architecture was the highlight as we didn't want to drink. Although we tried our luck finding random geishas.

The street was narrow but full of people!

It's no longer a red light district, although they still hang up red lanterns.

The lanterns come in different shapes, sizes, patterns and colours.

Lovely shops, but they can be pricey.

Keep your eyes peeled for small lanes like this in the busy street. They sometimes have small establishments that are very famous but difficult to find.

This lane was decorated with tori gates. Be mindful of your head!

After failing to find any geisha, we wandered around a little.

And found this beautiful sight.

The theatre wasn't open, but it looked fancy.

Right after taking a wrong turn to a small local shrine, we walked back to find our bus to the hotel when I found this. An optical illusion lamp. How interesting!

Tomorrow, we will be travelling to Myoko for most of the day. I don't know if we'll be able to ski because it is going to be the new year. However, more importantly, I'm praying my health will hold up.

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