Fushimi Inari Shrine

This post was kind of hard to write, because I edited and edited, but had a lot of trouble cutting it down to the required number of images. If I put more than about 10 in a given post, the page takes forever to load. So instead, I did something I’ve been meaning to do for quite a while. I made an embedded slideshow. It’s meant to have some animations, and captions, and I need to write the script that will atuo-generate one of these, and maybe I’ll get around to adding those eventually, but I don’t want to let perfect be the enemy of done here. It’s just a blog after all. Hand-rolled artisanal slideshow.

So. If you recall the previous post, we crashed out early and woke up early due to jet lag, and so did our friends we were travelling with, and they suggested we try to get to this shrine for the morning golden hour. Half an hour cab ride plus 5am sunrise meant we sort of just had to drop everything and go, so we did.

We got there early enough that there wasn’t really that many people there. None of the vendors were open. We got coffees from a vending machine on the way. If you haven’t had the experience, it’s a little like one of those starbucks double shot cans, but available black and hot. So, thusly energized, we started up the hill.

When we started, I didn’t really grasp the extent of this place. I was thinking of the golden temple we’d seen the day before, which was spectacular, but small, and figured this would be something on the same scale. But no, this is a whole complex of shrines and sub-shrines, sprawled out on the side of a mountain. The hike to the top is about 2 hours of stairs, what with the constant stopping to take photos.

But/and, there are gates the whole way. Some ancient stone ones, but too many orange wooden ones to count. They’re on different scales, at different spacings, and in various states of repair the whole way. At one point, we came across a spot with just a hole in the ground where a gate was going to be planted later that day. The mental state that all the repetition and variation and physical exertion produces is very strange. Or maybe it was from hiking on an empty stomach. Disorientation, along with a sense of wonder.

So: definitely go. Definitely do it at dawn, before all the other assholes wake up (remember you’re an asshole too, in this scenario). Maybe bring snacks and water, although as you leave the temple mid morning, there are street food vendors that will sell you food that has no business being that good.

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Posted by Matt on 2018-11-07 11:25:41 -0800

golden temple

End of day 2. I thought, for some reason, going to this temple, that the ‘golden’ part was a figure of speech. I was wrong. The crowds were pretty prodigious, but the whole thing is sort of a visual non-sequitur.

NB: the one picture of it across the lake is nice, but it would be nicer if I’d had a long lens, or been able to move better, but the crowds made that difficult. I almost posted a picture of it obscured by other people out of spite, but eventually decided that this isn’t a blog for spite (most of the time).

We walked around the temple, taking our time along the path, and then ended up taking a taxi back to our place and crashing early. Which meant we woke up very early the next morning…

Posted by Matt on 2018-10-31 17:10:18 +0900

nishiki market and the bengal cat cafe

After all that walking, we decided we needed a nice, refreshing stroll. We met up with our friends that we’re traveling with and walked around the Nishiki market, which is a big sort of open-air mall, but not just your typical stores like a Zara or the local Sacs equivalent, but fish also stalls and sushi on conveyor places and vintage stores and hand-made stamps (you bet we bought a couple stamps). Just all of commerce, packed in to one huge pedestrian area, multiple covered open air walkways.

Then there was the cat cafe, which was really interesting. You could tell the cats didn’t care about the people at all; I thought this was because they’re more wild or something, but reading about them on Wiki tells me they actually need a lot of stimulation, so maybe being around a bunch of new people all the time was good for them? IDK. I do know these seemed well-cared for (I am not a biologist or vet, so take that as you will).

Next up: a perfectly uncomplicated temple visit.

Posted by Matt on 2018-10-31 13:31:48 +0900

kyoto in the morning

First morning, Kyoto. We woke up early, rolled over, and went back to sleep. So far this trip, jet lag hasn’t been too bad, but we’ve been in a state of continual tiredness that is probably at least partially because of the interruption to our poor circadian rhythms. Anyway…

We were staying on the quieter side of the river, still fairly close to the central shopping district, and founds a lot of stuff nearby that seemed interesting. There was a nice little coffee shop that only served coffee of very high quality and really just a delight. We went to a smaller temple in the vicinity, just kind of wandered around the grounds. It was the sort of place that had been there continuously for 800 years or so, modulo a couple fires and rebuildings.

Posted by Matt on 2018-10-31 12:58:32 +0900