One of the most famous temples in Kyoto has 10,000- yes TEN THOUSAND!- torii gates on it's property! My biggest birthday wish was to take fabulous pictures there. Considering we were in Kyoto at one of the busiest times of the year- and it was a saturday- it was going to be difficult to get pictures without people in them! so- we got up early- around 6- and got the kiddos ready- and took an early morning train (around 7) out to the Fushimi Inari Shrine. It was AMAZING. and nearly empty. Definitely my favorite location in all of Kyoto!
The walkways were peaceful and calm, the air was cool and crisp, and the colors were vibrant in the early morning sun!
there is a short path near the base of the shrine that has hundreds of small-closely spaced gates that make for such an astounding sight.
I can't remember- but I think Zeb took this picture for us!
there's a giant mountain behind the shrine where all of the other gates can be found! the hike is 2-3 hours roundtrip and we decided to do it all! the tori gates lining the steep mountain is just too impressive to miss.
people donate the gates. the largest ones cost a million dollars to construct and put up!!
you just can't believe that they keep going and going and going!! some of the gates are bright and shiny and new- while others are faded and chipped.
all along our hike- we stumbled upon cemetaries, smaller temples, groups of little shrines, and old buildings.
many shrines have rows and rows of long strands of paper cranes. we found out that one person makes a strand of ONE THOUSAND cranes by themselves in one calendar year- and then hangs them at the shrines. It is said they will be granted eternal good luck- or possibly be granted one eternal wish (such as a long life or a recovery from illness or injury) by a crane. They are aways brightly colored and beautiful!! we've got to learn how to make paper cranes!!
I mean seriously- how did all of these gates get WAY up this mountain?! it's unreal.
these were all attached to a giant bell metta was trying to ring!
mack gets the best seat with the best views.
I love this picture. It's taken at a temple on the very top of the mountain- after lots and lots of stairs and lots and lots of moaning and groaning! but I think everybody was happy to be at the top.
on our way back down- they had a break area with great views and ice cream. I love this picture of Zeb and the random Japanese guy looking out over kyoto while enjoying their ice cream cones. Japanese people LOVE soft serve ice cream. it is EVERYwhere. even on mountainsides.
also on our descent- Ike took a pretty bad tumble. He was jumping down steep stone stairs and Kent warned him repeatedly that it wasn't the best idea. You live and learn, huh? we bought him a little stuffed fox at the bottom to make him feel better :) He is still sleeping with it. The fox is the animal symbol of the fushimi inari shrine.
Orange may become my favorite color by the time we leave Japan! Red and Orange are very important colors in the Shinto religion.
everybody ringing their bells~
after our trip to Fushimi Inari- we hit two big markets. One was a shrine sale at the Toji temple. It was hot and crowded! but full of good street food and Japanese treasures. we ended up getting a print of the giant carp fish windsocks for 'Kodomo no hi'- Children's Day- a spring holiday here.
Japan is such an OLD country! just in Kyoto- kent had to stop and help three different elderly people who had fallen in the road! most of them just keep walking and taking care of themselves until they die.
After the toji market- we went to Nishiki food market! a long alleyway with food shops, restaurants, and all sorts of japanese 'goodies'.
and statues of raccoons with giant testicles.
and everybody needs baby octupi on a stick to suck on, right!??!
Japan definitely has it's assortment of weird fishy creatures that I would never intend for human consumption! but they love their strange snacks and ingredients.
it reminded me of Pike Place market in Seattle!
we ended up having dinner at an Italian restaurant to finish the day! Sometimes I get overwhelmed with the japanese smells and consistent menu items. I need something to cleanse my palate and taste 'new'! we got pizza and gnocchi :)
I also got a few more pictures of the blossoms at 'our' shrine at home!
My birthday was fabulous!! I just can't believe that life gets better and better with every year that passses! I hope that continues forever!! Happy 34 to me!!