So, the three days of Golden Week ended up being hot and not half as rainy as it was supposed to be. I started the Tuesday off with every intention of just relaxing for the whole day but instead Japan came knocking on my door and telling me to come out. What do I mean by that? Well, when you are chilling in your room and hear the sounds of a festival just up the street I take that as a sign to get out and see things.
I ventured out of my apartment and came across a small local festival. I have no idea what it was for or what it was about but it featured kids pulling carts with shrines on them around the neighbourhood. I must have seen about 6 or 7 different little parades in total. I was also spotted in the wild by some of my students for the first time but they were really happy to see me and came up to talk, as did some of the parents. I hope I made a good impression.
The rest of Tuesday I spent relaxing for the most part so that I was well rested for Wednesday’s adventure. After training a Facebook group was made for our training group so that we could stay connected. Some of the others from other cities in the region wanted to head to Kyoto to check out Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. Since Kyoto is just around the corner I decided to jump on the bandwagon too.
Wednesday was hot and sunny and very, very busy since Golden Week is a prime vacationing time for Japanese people. It was probably the busiest I have ever seen it so far. What can you expect going to one of Kyoto’s most famous shrines in the height of Golden Week? But I don’t really mind a big crowd.
I met up with everyone else at the front of the shrine and as soon as we were all there we headed up. The Fushimi Inari Shrine is known for it’s thousands of bright redish orange (or according to Wikipedia, vermilion) torii gates. At Inari Shrines, this one being the main Inari shrine, the gates represent success in business and have been bought by various donors. And there are quite literally thousands of gates at this shrine. The shrine is located at the foot of a mountain, with the main shrine at the base and then paths of gates spreading all the way up the mountain. There are several restaurants and rest spots along the way up but it is definitely a hike! So far, I’ve found that Japanese mountains are actually quite tall and steep, even if they don’t seem like it at first.
We decided to climb all the way to the top, even though it was hot and we were not proficient hikers in the least. The nice thing was that the further up you went the thinner the crowd got. Sadly, the top itself was a little disappointing but at least we could claim victory of making it there.
After we trekked back down and headed on to the train back up into the main part of Kyoto. We wandered around and found a burger place to eat at, though I don’t think they appreciated our noisy crowd of nine foreigners. After that we wandered around the shopping streets before heading to a bar for a drink or two with some more people. Then we split up even more and I went with a few people to check out the animate(anime store) and other geeky stores before heading home.
**On a side note, I am sorry for the super late posts everyone! Life is way busier than I thought it would be. Summer vacation is fast approaching though and I will do my best to keep you up to date on my adventures!