During the last week of March I took three days off of work to go to Kyoto with Greta and Leslie. We took the shinkansen to Kyoto on Monday night and spent next three days staying with Lilith at her dorm. Lilith was nice enough to let us invade her small living space for a few days, which made our trip cheaper than it would've otherwise been.
Day 1 - None of us had been to Fushimi Inari before and we all really wanted to go, so that was the first stop of our trip. The four of us met up with Kiri and her parents because they happened to be in Kyoto at the same time as us. We all of hiked up Fushimi Inari together. It took up a good part of the afternoon, but it was completely worth it. Climbing up the mountain under all those red torii was beautiful.
Fushimi Inari's famous torii.
There were also so many shrines, big and small, scattered over the whole mountain. Certain places on the mountain felt like they had some serious spiritual energy, too. We made it all the way to the top of the mountain. Then, when we got back down to the bottom, we had delicious taiyaki parfaits as a reward for all that climbing. We then parted ways with Kiri and her parents to go to Sanjusangendo. It was so cool! Inside the building are hundreds of amazingly carved wooden statues of Kannon and other Buddhist gods. I only wish that they allowed you to take pictures inside. It was definitely worth seeing.
Day 2 - We started off by going to Heian Shrine, which was pretty big. It seemed like it had a Four Gods motif going, which was neat. The shrine itself wasn't too exciting though. After Heian Shrine we met up with Kate. She came up from Osaka for the afternoon to visit with us. We then went to Yasaka Jinja, which is quite nice. I'd actually been there before with my parents on my last trip to Kyoto. While we were at Yasaka it started raining, so we decided to go in search of food instead for more shrines. After we had dinner, a few of us had ninja crepes. They were black crepes and mine had black sesame and custard in it. It was quite good.
Day 3 - By the last day of the trip, we were so tired from walking but we still had more to do. We walked a lot to get to a bunch of different smaller shrines. (Greta and I may have complained a lot about being tired.) This first shrine was Seimei Shrine, dedicated to Abe no Seimei. I thought it was a cool little shrine. The thing that made my day was finding an ema signed by D'espairs Ray among all the celebrity signed ema the shrine had on display. (I miss you D'espa. Come back!) Then, we walked to Kenkun Shrine, which is dedicated to the warlord himself, Oda Nobunaga. We had to do a little bit of climbing to get to this shrine. It was actually a pretty little shrine. The last shrine of the trip was Hirano, which was quite lovely. There were many cherry blossoms there too, which made it extra pretty. After Hirano, we went back to Lilith's dorm to pick up our bags and then to the station to catch our shinkansen back to Tokyo.
All in all, the trip was quite nice, but very tiring. The trains aren't as convenient in Kyoto so it requires a lot of riding the bus (which kind of sucks) or walking. I was actually pretty happy to go home because by the end of the trip I felt like I needed a vacation from my vacation. Kyoto is beautiful, but I prefer Tokyo. Coming back to Tokyo is a bit like coming home.