Ehhh, good enough

A menacing  kitsune  at the entrance to Fushimi Inari shrine .  

A menacing kitsune at the entrance to Fushimi Inari shrine. 

Day 4 began in a cozy, warm room and it was never warmer thereafter. Knowing how warm the northwest is becoming, I truly didn't prepare for the coldness that is Kyoto. Once again, we had to deal with the terrible transportation system that doesn't really assist foreigners. So when you find out the bus isn't going where you intended you jump off and try to find an alternate route. Eventually we made it to Fushimi-Inari, a torii-filled shrine I have wanted to visit since I watched Memoirs of a Geisha. Like the days before, my foot was still in pain, but that didn't stop me from wanting to reenact one of my favorite scenes from the film. I didn't know that Fushimi-Inari was actually a shrine filled with kitsune (fox) statues as opposed to the shishi (lion dogs) at each torii (gate). Also, I didn't realize that there were multiple shrines to see along a mountain. Because it was a pretty light traverse I had ambitions on making it to the top to get a photo of the view of Kyoto, but that hope was quickly dashed as my right foot began to give out and we became pressed for time if we wanted to make it to Kiyomizudera at a decent hour. So once we reached the halfway point, there happened to be a view that I openly told Ian was "good enough for me." An English speaker heard me say this and had a laugh. Throughout the day this more or less became my quote.

The view from halfway up is good enough for me and kitty. Also, I didn't make it to Tōji temple, but I could see it. Tōji temple houses the tallest wooden pagoda in Japan. Good enough.

The view from halfway up is good enough for me and kitty. Also, I didn't make it to Tōji temple, but I could see it. Tōji temple houses the tallest wooden pagoda in Japan. Good enough.

After we left Fushimi Inari, we made our way to Kiyomizudera, that is after we stopped for some udon. Kiyomizudera is a UNESCO World Heritage site that has a brilliantly orange entrance, and was made without a single nail. In fact it's probably for this reason it was under restoration in the main area which was a bummer, but it was still beautiful from what I could tell. Other notable mentions in Kiyomizudera were the shrine for business luck being a big fat black Buddha type figure, a housed horse statue with business cards thrown into the housing, a shrine for the love god Ōkuninishi symbolized by rabbits and a man with a hammer, and a tree filled with nails representing the "2am visit" death curse that women wished upon the men who betrayed them. Maybe they wouldn't have to constantly restore the building if they used some of those nails for things other than curses.

The main shrine on top, a pagoda and me with the love bun. 

The main shrine on top, a pagoda and me with the love bun. 

Once we left Kiyomizudera we continued to walk up a path filled with shrines and shops in hopes of reaching Yasaka Shrine. It's really, really easy to get distracted however when there is a shrine every 20 steps though. We found an unmanned building with weird art sculptures and the request that if you take photos that you pay the frog.

Creepy cool art.

Creepy cool art.

We passed a pagoda that I'm sure was important, but entry was barred as it seems most shrines close between 4-5pm. It seems a lot of things shut down early in Kyoto in contrast to Osaka and Tokyo, though Ian and I are sure that is due to how cold it is in Kyoto. We saw a big Buddha statue from afar that initially I wanted to see up close, but after realizing I'd need to walk a bunch to pay to see a statue that I could clearly see from afar I decided once again that my view was "good enough." We continued on and stumbled into a double-temple exhibit. One was Entoku-in and the other was Kodaiji. Entoku-in was created by Nene, the wife of Hideyoshi, to mourn his death. Samurai would pay respects by bringing Nene big rocks for her North end garden. I also got to see (but not photograph) a screen painted by the famous painter Hasegawa Tohaku.

Nene's samurai rock garden

Nene's samurai rock garden

By the time we left Entoku-in and walked over to Kodai-ji it was almost dark, but that's okay because both were lit up at night. While it would be lovely to see the garden during the day, we were surprised with the rock garden being lit up with a 2 minute show projected on the rocks and building. We then walked around the lit bamboo forest which was beautiful and reminded me of Miyazaki's The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Cherry blossoms falling over water before the dragon arrives. 

Cherry blossoms falling over water before the dragon arrives. 

Beautiful bamboo forest, no filters or editing needed.

Beautiful bamboo forest, no filters or editing needed.

We never did make it to Yasaka shrine before closing, but with all we did, it was good enough. Also, I would have liked to see Gion in the day, but again, decided it was good enough and that perhaps the night scenery was closer to the romanticized vision I have of it as there were less tourists and gift shops. Finally we ended our night with dinner at a restaurant in Gion, eating different sticks of yakitori, karaage, and drinking Mikan chuhai. It was probably my favorite meal in Kyoto so far, though none of the food in Kyoto has been bad. Definitely better than good enough.

The third stick was my favorite, wrapped in shiso with plum sauce. 

The third stick was my favorite, wrapped in shiso with plum sauce. 

"I hate Kyoto..." or at least its transportation system.

So maybe you noticed I named yesterday's post Day 2 + 3... Well, I totally forgot about day 3 because day 2 was just so jam-packed with awesome that day 3 paled in comparison. Part of that is because it was a travel day from Osaka to Kyoto. In the morning, Joe-San took us to Dotonburi with our luggage so I could go to the Ukiyo-e museum that was closed the day before. He gave us a very heartfelt goodbye and I can say out of my time here in Japan so far, meeting him has been my favorite part. Joe used to be a boxer in Korea, has two adorable daughters that I got to FaceTime with after they went to Sento with their mother, and he shared a lot of his interesting life story with us. Joe-San has great taste in noodles, too. AND he used to play part-time with my favorite Japanese rock band, Thee Michelle Gun Elephant and hosts a show on Osaka's television network every Friday night featuring musicians from Japan. One day maybe Tin Foil Cat can be on the show. 🙏🏼 His smallest daughter is already a fan!

Small plate style dining was delish

Small plate style dining was delish

We browsed through the museum and I enjoyed seeing the original woodblock prints that inspired so much if my favorite art. We then headed to Osaka station to make our way to Kyoto. The train ride was pretty short, but it took forever to get on a bus to take us to a bus stop that would let us ride a bus to our next AirBnB. The part that made it so miserable was that while Japan is filled with tourists, they seem to be a lot more pushy and rude in Kyoto. Likewise, the city just doesn't seem as friendly as Osaka, because well, Osaka really is the friendliest in my experiences in Japan so far. The destination was really only 15 minutes from the main Kyoto Station, but the public transportation system in Kyoto is far less efficient than anywhere else I've been in Japan, so it took us about an hour and a half. After we dropped our things off and took a short nap, we decided to tackle the central Tokyo area where Pontocho & Nishiki Market are since all the temples, shrines, and gardens would be closed by 5. Even this was quite a feat because all the maps in Kyoto seem to be turned every which way depending what direction you're facing, what the scale comparison is on destinations, and the fact that each bus, subway, and train company refuses to share a map system so you're stuck comparing multiple maps to see if you can reach your destination with any possibility of ease. (Yes, I know that was a horrible run on sentence.) The frustration this all caused had me constantly saying "I hate Kyoto" which is surprising when anyone I've ever met will say Kyoto is their favorite city in Japan. Another note, when in doubt about whether you're on the right bus or not, you're probably better off walking.

The main highlight of this day was our dinner. And that's pretty much it. We could have played with Bengal kittens, but we were too hungry for that.