Before I start, may I point you to an entirely more respectful, insightful and factual piece on this wonderful place: https://blog.gaijinpot.com/fushimi-inari-tori-gates/ Better photos too.
And back to our scheduled programme...
The train rolls into Inari station. The tourists flood out. Within 20m we are on final approach to Shrine central.
The mahousive Orange gates – I will never look at the B&Q logo the same way again – beckon you up to the temples. And herein lies a rub. This is a sacred site yet it is treated like a theme park. We see our first Japanese temple-rage incident as a pensionable local gets properly, coronary threateningly angry with some Eurpoean tourists who have the temerity to pause and sit on the temple steps to munch their snacks. He was probably correct in his outrage, as it’s an important place to those of religion and all, but I actually felt a little sorry for the visitors as they skulked off, tails between legs: they were unconciously ignorant, not wilfully distrispectful.
We head past them with mental note to stick to the rules. That’s how Japan works. [At Heathrow a million miles back we encountered a family flying to Addis Abbaba at the check-in assistance desk. They were heading to a place where the concept of rules likely seemed different. Their approach certainly wasn’t fitting in with the airline procedures. A wildly different world away in retrospect from here.]
Heading up hill we encounter our first Orange tori gate. These are then arranged one behind the other to a vanishing point. About 70cm apart until they curve away out of sight into the bamboo. They are fab, enticing, resolute. We climb. Presently, the crowds are behind us and the quiet descends. To the side hither and thither are shrines. Languorous, Zen like pussy-cats casually accept a cwtch from their sacred bolt holes. We climb. Humidity becomes more noticeable.
We then realise that it’s a much longer walk than the map suggests. Damn you, non-linear illustrative visitor information artist! We push for one more shrine. It’s a corker, only missing an Indiana Jones and emerge onto a temporarily private, perfect spot where the lights of Kyoto twinkle as dusk descends. We didn’t summit, no flag planted, but we had a lovely family moment.
Ah, we hadn’t though about descending in the dark.
Luckily at a 24/7 shrine they’ve opted for pilgrim-path-lighting. It adds a touch more predictability to the trek and some eerily beautiful views of the site. All too soon we’re back at the station. The signs warn of wild boar. Gilly swears she heard one. No, really she totes did. Honest. Why does nobody believe her… WHY?!
Avoiding carnivorous piggies we find a train. In short order we are aloft in Kyoto station in failed search of Ramen: the queues were too much. What we find is our best meal yet. Was it perfectly authentic? All we cared about was that is was perfectly delicious. Then more trains back to Osaka before we head on a altogether more secretive adventure.
Crikey, got a bit Hardy Boys at the end there. Calm down.
So to relieve the tension, a picture prefixed with an inconsequential smutty question: Teeny gate or enormous pussy?