Monday, January 11, 2016

Exploring Kyoto, Day Five

Kyoto Day 5

Welp, it's our last day.  :(  Our train was scheduled to leave around 3 pm, so we had a few hours in the morning to squeeze in a few more of the sights on our list.

With a 0600 alarm set, we were up early!  My plan was to get to the first shrine early enough that we could avoid the massive crowds.  We were supposed to have a beautiful, clear day!  

So excited for today!

Fushimi Inari Taisha

~Shinto shrine dedicated to Inari, the god of rice.  The foxes seen around the grounds are thought to be Inari's messengers.  Some of the structures were relocated here around 816 and others were built in the 1800s.

The giant torii in front of the Romon Gate (dates to late 1500s)

This gate has the two arrow protector guys like the Yasaka Shrine we saw on the first day.

A map of our trek for this early morning.  We were ahead of the crowds, so far.  We were early enough that it wasn't until we were on our way back down the mountain when we heard the birds waking up.

Back behind the shrine buildings is a path that leads up the 760 foot Mount Inari.  And, on this path is...

Senbon Torii ~ "thousands of torii gates"

This is the starting gate.  Big!

Here is your warning...I took a LOT of pictures here!  And, I'm going to include several on this blog. We took pictures around every corner and on straightways.  Every step seemed to reveal another beautiful picture.

Walking the path was pretty awesome!  I think the fact that we weren't overrun by tourists made it even better.  But, it was so quiet on this path!  Every turn revealed another gentle curve of torii.  There are several places where you can step off the path and you will find a little shrine.  The color of the torii changed as the sun made it's way across the sky.  From a subtle red/orange to a fiery red/orange with the sun reflecting off the posts.  

Hello, Family!

In some areas the gates were spread apart.  Sometimes they were so close together that we were in shadows.  They wound their way around paths and up stairs.  Some were stone.  Some were old.  Some were fairly new.  Most were red/orange.  Some were even missing.  But, all of them were donated from either people or companies.  The cost for one of those gates:  starting at $4,000 for the smaller ones.  

Chose your path.

Tightly packed

Running the path

The names of the people or companies that donated each torii are inscribed on the gates.

Because we were there fairly early we were able to get a lot of shots without the "extras" we usually see.  Sometimes it was a matter of just waiting for that one person to walk through.  Or the jogger...yes, there were a few people who were just there to jog through the gates.  What a way to get a run in!
Grandpa and one of his girls.  We walked many, many steps.

The gates were so close together here that the sun was even blocked out.

Wait for a picture quickly kids.

New torii, old torii, stone torii and then missing torii

As we made our way back down the mountain, the sun was just high enough to start shining on us.

I took out all the color but for the torii in the picture below so you could see how it snaked through the trees and up the mountain.

Another shot of the gates gliding through the trees 

Hello, Sunshine!  It's so nice of you to show up!  

Kris and the kids got halfway up the mountain and decided they had seen several hundred gates and that was good enough for them, so they made their way back down the mountain.  Gregg, Joan and I decided to head all the way to the top.  The signs said we still had quite a bit of time needed to make it to the top of the mountain.  In reality, it took us just 30 minutes, maybe less.  Actually, we got to the top of the mountain and didn't even realize we were at the top.  Once there, we took a few pictures of the little shrines that were set up around the area, then made our way back down the mountain.

Once we were back in one group we started making our way to destination number two.  


~ Founded in 1164 and then rebuilt in the mid-1200s after a fire destroyed the first.  This temple, whose official name is Rengeo-in, is known for its 1001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy.

The outside of the building isn't anything spectacular.  It's the 120 meter long hall that houses the statues that is beyond explanation!  Of course, we were not allowed to take pictures inside.  Sanjusangendo means 33 intervals, which refers to the number of intervals between the building's support columns. 

We were not allowed to take pictures inside, but there was a poster outside in the garden area of the 1,000 armed Kannon that sits in the center of the building above.  On each side of her sits 500 life size kannon statues.  Of the 1,000 statues, 124 were made in the 1100s when the temple was founded.  The other 876 were made in the 1200s when it was renovated.  They are all made of Japanese cypress covered in gold leaf.  It was incredibly impressive!  

Then, in front of the 1001 kannon statues are 28 more human-sized statues of different guardian dieties that protect the Buddhists who believe in Kannon.  

Poster of 1,000 armed Kannon
Here is another poster showing the statues inside.  I played with the light and shadows a bit to try and get the statues to stand out in the dark background.  1,000 of those guys!  1,000!!  Ten rows of 50 on one side, ten rows of 50 on the other side.

Jaw dropping!

Literally, my jaw dropped when I walked around the corner and was dwarfed by these statues.

After we put our shoes back on and made our way out of the hall, we took a tour around the small temple grounds.  

During Edo times (1603-1867) Toh-shiya was held on the veranda of the hall.  Toh-shiya is an archery contest.  The man who shot the most arrows from one end to the other won.

Sanjusangendo is known as the longest wooden structure in Japan.

The Bell Hall.  The bell is rung every morning and every evening.

I can't remember if this was a part of the Great South Gate or not.  But, it was a long hall-like structure, but open on one side.  It was very pretty to stand on one side and look down the length of the structure to the other end.

"The Spring Crying in the Night"
A spring that was discovered when the main hall was built.  So named because they say it sounds like a human crying.  I'm not sure I heard a cry.  I did drink the water.  It was cold.  

Well, it was time for our adventure to come to an end for this week.  While Gregg and Joan headed off to find souvenirs and gifts for friends and family, Kris and the kids and I made our way to...McDonalds.  Ha!  It was lunch time and we wanted something quick and easy.  Burgers and nuggets it was!  When we finished lunch we made our way back toward the house to pick up our bags and then make our way to the train station.  ~ I made a little detour here to find a coffee cup to take home with me; it's something that I do.  :)

A pretty bridge on our way back to the house
We made it to the train station quite a bit early.  So, we hung out and waited for our chariot to arrive.  This ride home had us sitting 3 in one row then 3 in the next row.

On our way home we were lucky enough to have such beautiful weather that we had an outstanding view of Fuji-san!

Unfortunately, we were on the opposite side of the train as Fuji.  But, lucky for that handsome Boy of ours, the Japanese ladies in the seat next to us were more than happy to let him squeeze into the row with them so he could see.

We were on the train for two hours and then back to Yokosuka by around 7-ish.  Thanks to our awesome friend, Jon, we had a ride from the station to the house instead of walking.  And, he is so awesome that he brought us snacks to chomp on while we rode back!  :)

A few details about our day...

We took a train from Kiyomizu-Gojo to Fushimi Inari --> Sanjusangendo --> Aotake-an --> Kyoto Station --> HOME

Miles for the day:  10.3 Miles

Fushimi Inari Taisha
Admission:  Free
Hours:  24 hours

Admission:  600 Adult 400 children
Hours:  0900-1600

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