Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Today was time to venture outside of Downtown and Central Kyoto for a bit and head to Southern Kyoto. The destination...Fushimi-Inari Taisha..the site of thousands of red lacquered gates which are the quintessential image of Japan.

Fushimi-Inari is considered the central headquarters for 40,000 shrines nationally that do service to Inari, the god of rice, sake, and prosperity. The gates trace a path up the mountainside...it's such a beautiful site to see! You should spend a good three hours here, so that you can soak it all in.
A good way to do it is to stop halfway and take a break at one of the little restaurants along the way. Recharge with a little green tea, Kirin beer and rice crackers.

After some more time at Fushimi Inari, it was time to head to The Cube Department Store and I Setan which is right next door.
On the 10th floor of I Setan is something known as Ramen Alley, which is basically a bunch of restaurants that all serve ramen.You must order your food from a machine right outside of the restaurant and pay for it first. The machine will print out tickets with your order on it which you hand to your waiter and he/she will bring your food to you. I ordered ramen and pork gyoza...this is a must see and do!
Once satisfied and full, it was time to head to Ginkaku-ji Temple (a.k.a Silver Temple) and the Path of Philosophy. Ginkaku-ji is a two-story mansion that the shogun originally intended to be wrapped in silver leaf, but after a tumultuous war and government unrest, the funds for the project dried up. So when you go to Ginkaku-ji, you won't see a silver temple, but you will see beautifully and carefully sculpted gardens, which are surrounded by a pond and rolling moss-covered hills. It's so peaceful here.

The Path of Philosophy runs alongside the canal. There is a very narrow walkway which is lined with cherry trees. You can also find coffee shops and small restaurants along the way. This path has traditionally been a place for contemplative strolling for centuries.
After the stroll, I headed to Kyoto's wonderful food market, Nishiki-koji. Here you can find delicious grilled fish dipped in soy sauce for a tasty snack or fresh Kyoto sweets. The market is long and narrow- it goes on for many streets. For dinner that night...it was time for some Japanese barbecue. I found a great place along the canal (one block over from Pontocho Alley). After lots of grilling, it was time to head back to Tawaraya before the curfew. This would be the last night in Kyoto. :( So far Japan (especially Kyoto) was perfect in every sense- it is beautiful, special, incredible and certainly unforgettable. Stay tuned for more from my next destination...the small town of Kobuchizawa in the Japanese Alps!

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