web analytics

[Japan 2015] Day 2 of 7 | Kyoto + Nara: Exploring Kyoto Station, Fushimi Inari-taisha, and the most polite deers in the world.

 

Previously: [JAPAN 2015] Day 1 of 7 | Osaka + Kobe: Kuromon market, Dotonburi, Shinsaibashi-suji, and Osaka castle; plus: Steak so good, you’ll die.

day2-01

Hours of editing and waiting to load/upload/reload later, here’s another late post for my Japan 2015 + Hong Kong travel series *phew*.

The highlight of the day was meeting my second elder brother after nearly 4 years, as well as visiting the Fushimi Inari shrine, where the famous running scene of little Chiyo from Memoirs of A Geisha (2005) was shot.

Goosebumps alert: I could feel the chills just by listening to the music.

By the time Day 2 of 7 ended, which would be the day we’re going to cover on this post, we moved to a nearby ryokan 旅館, as I mentioned on the previous post. Amazingly enough, we moved by foot, schlepping all of our baggages and everything that night. We chose to move by foot mostly because it’s more energy-efficient than lugging our heavy-duty stuffs up and down the stairs on the subway/JR. So that’s a major workout for the night, before we dined a superb dinner at Manzara まんざら本店, a highly-rated restaurant across the street.

Oyado Ishicho お宿いしちょう


Nakagyoku
土手町竹屋町
上末丸284−3
Kyoto 〒604-0901
+81 (0)75 222 1101
www.kyoto-ryokan-ishicho.com

Nearest JR station(s):

  • Jingumarutamachi 神宮丸太町

Nearest subway station(s):

  • Kyoto Shiyakushomae 京都市役所前

 

👧 #torii #inari #geishapalsu 📷: @teten02

A photo posted by Not Stacie (@staciapriscilla) on

You’ll navigate the same way as you do on this post as you do with the previous post: Click through any of the places listed below that you want to view first, and then click the upward arrow symbol (↑) to come back to this section of the post. This prevents the infinite scrolling you have to do in this super duper long post *hehehe*. 

 

Happy reading!

 
 

KYOTO 京都


 

The Old Capital is the city I dream of living for the rest of my life – no questions asked. For some inexplicable reason, the people there really embody the mienai oshare 見えない お洒落 concept of beauty more so than Tokyoites. The city itself has got a nice balance of the nation’s most venerable charms and contemporary cultures. I can so picture myself, if I still plan to not have a family, living to old age in Kyoto, illustrating children’s books all day, sipping tea and playing with my Frenchie puppy. There are lots of greens for Kyotoites to run long distances with neither the crowd nor the busyness of Tokyo, natural hotsprings throughout the region, and that you can survive without a car (I mean, you can, too, living in Tokyo, but Tokyo is about 2.5x larger than Kyoto [2188 sq m vs. 827.9 sq m]), not to mention that this not-so-small town is the home of over a dozen UNESCO World Heritage sites. This by no means it’s some remote desert; far from it. People from all over the world are concentrated in just this one city, and I suspect the Jidai 時代祭, Aoi 葵祭, and Gion festivals 祇園祭 have a lot to do with it. These 3 matsuris 祭, or festivals, are some of the most famous celebrations in Japan – no other city in the nation hosts that many important festivals as Kyoto does.

Speaking of hosts, we have one for the day: My second elder brother. As I said before, he’s been happily living in Nagoya 名古屋 for almost 4 years now, and probably ever after. The earlier part of the day was dedicated to catching up with him, as it takes roughly 4 hours for him to get from Nagoya to the Kyoto Station building. We were originally planning to head to UNESCO World Heritage site Kiyomizu-dera  and the Zen temple Tokufu-ji that day, but obviously we didn’t have much time by then, and so he suggested we make a fun detour to Nara 奈良 city instead.

 

Kyoto Station

Now this isn’t just any old railway station – it’s the city’s transportation hub and Japan’s 2nd largest station building. You’ve got shopping malls, cafes and restaurants, a movie theater, a hotel, an Isetan department store (complete with its very own website), and several local government facilities in this one building.

After getting a pore scrub/peel/mask and this award-winning mascara at a Kokumin コクミン store1 in Porta mall (located underground of the Kyoto Station building), we met up with my bro and grabbed lunch at MACHIYA 町や, a popular chain restaurant that specializes in okonomiyaki お好み焼き.

IMG-20150814-WA0011

It’s received excellent reviews on TripAdvisor, but when you’ve just eaten a splendid meal on the previous night, this is simply good. Unsurprisingly, there were a lot of foreigners in the house during our visit that day. We even had to wait in line outside (although it didn’t take very long).

IMG_9671

IMG_9672

IMG_9680

IMG_9677

IMG_9673

IMG_9679

MACHIYA 町や (Porta Dining)


Shimogyoku
烏丸通塩
小路下ル東塩小路町902
Kyoto 〒600-8212
+81 (0)75 343 3077
www.porta.co.jp/shop/dining

Operating hours:

M-S 11:00am – 10:00pm
(last order: 09:30pm)

* * * * * * * * * *

 

Fushimi Inari Shrine

A bucket list item for most people mostly for it’s thousands of torii 鳥居 gates, but locals pay a visit for reason: It’s Japan’s oldest and largest shrine of Inari (out of over 30,000 shrines nationwide!), one of Shinto’s principal kami 神 (god) that rules over foxes and represents luck, prosperity, and success. Inari is also the god of rice, tea, sake, and of agriculture and industry in general, as well as fertility. If you have more than enough rice on your table, you’re especially blessed by Inari. Everything that has to do with enrichment and fortune, the Japanese pray to her, particularly among businessmen. The deity is sometimes depicted as a man, but in popular cultures you’d most likely recognize Inari as a young goddess, perhaps carrying rice. Her (or his) eyes and ears of the world are white kitsunes 狐 (foxes), which is why you tend to see fox statues in Inari shrines.

There are 5 main shrines in the entire complex, with sub-shrines and auxiliary buildings sprawling throughout. The entire complex sits atop Inari-yama 稲荷山 (Inari mountain), which stands at 233m above sea level. If you follow the 4km trail from the front gate till the end, you’ll be getting a good 2-hour (or s0) workout for the day.

Screen shot 2015-08-14 at 11.54.11 PM

Due to time constraints, we only trekked till the intersection of Kumataka-sha 熊鷹社 and Okusha public worship grounds 奥社奉拝所. It didn’t even count as a trek as much as it is a constant photo-taking walk at every torii gate. When I have the chance to come back, no doubt I’ll hike all the way to the peak 一ノ峰 and trek all the way down through the trail, because beautiful fox fountain and plain curiosity …

IMG_9681
The entrance: This is what you see right after stepping out of the JR Nara Line Inari Station.

IMG_9687

IMG_9693
Romon Gate 楼門, the 2-storey gate donated by daimyo Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1589

IMG_9689

IMG_9703
Foxes are believed to be able to possess you.

IMG_9694

IMG_9697

IMG_9696

IMG_9698
It’s customary in Japan to purify your hands before entering holy grounds

IMG_9706

IMG_9708

IMG_9709
Fushimi Inari’s haiden 拝殿, or the hall of worship

IMG_9710

IMG_9712
Stern bronze fox and the key for rice granaries

IMG_9714

IMG_9713

IMG-20150725-WA0019
All the written prayers for prosperity

IMG_9715

IMG_9722
The central lecture office 講務本庁 in the country

IMG-20150725-WA0020

IMG-20150725-WA0021

IMG_9723

IMG_9725

IMG_9724

IMG_9729

IMG_9731
Sleepy cat

IMG_9728

IMG_9732
Lights attached to prepare for the Gion festival

IMG_9735

IMG-20150725-WA0028
Bro and me

Processed with VSCOcam

Processed with VSCOcam

IMG_9739
Welcome to the Senbon Torii 千本鳥居 (thousands of torii gates), donated by successful individuals as well as corporations.

IMG_9741

IMG_9740

Processed with VSCOcam

IMG_9744

IMG-20150725-WA0026

IMG_9746

IMG-20150725-WA0029

IMG-20150725-WA0030

IMG-20150725-WA0031
‘Cause you can’t take too many pictures when traveling …

IMG-20150725-WA0033

IMG-20150725-WA0034
Identify the donators by looking at the back of each gate – it’s where their names and dates of donations are inscribed. (Did you know: The cost of a torii gate starts from 400,000 yen?! These people must be crazy rich, thanks to Inari’s blessings …)

IMG_9747

Processed with VSCOcam

Processed with VSCOcam

Processed with VSCOcam

IMG_9751

IMG_9755
Back view of Senbon Torii

IMG_9763

IMG_9768

IMG_9772

IMG_9773

IMG_9774

IMG_9775

IMG_9780
Another fox and its key …

IMG_9781

IMG_9777

Processed with VSCOcam
Anywhere but the camera
IMG_9782
The cat‘s still sleeping~

IMG_9784

Processed with VSCOcam

Fushimi Inari-taisha 伏見稲荷大社


Fushimiku
深草薮之内町68番地
Kyoto 〒612-0882
+81 (0)75 641 7331
www.inari.jp

Nearest JR station(s):

  • Inari 稲荷
  • Fushimiinari 伏見稲荷

 
 

NARA 奈良


 

And then, it’s about a 50-minute ride from the Inari Station稲荷 to Nara Station 奈良. It’s a shame that Nara is often a mere side trip from Kyoto, when it rivals other cultural legacies in the old capital, as you’ll learn in a minute. Unfortunately, he had to leave early because his work starts at 6:30pm, right after the working-class Japanese get off work and begin their English studies. So again, sorry not sorry for taking too many pictures … x)

Processed with VSCOcam

20150710_155325

20150710_155400

Boasting 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites, the nation’s first capital was established as early as AD 710. The establishment of Nara kicked off what we’ve came to know as the Nara period, or Nara jidai 奈良時代, a time in antiquity when Buddhism had major influence on the Japanese and thus, threatened the government and caused them to appoint Nagaoka 長岡 as the nation’s new capital, which then moved again to present-day Kyoto 京都 by the end of this period (AD 794). So don’t be surprised to see lots of Buddhist statues and monasteries studded all over the prefecture. They are often collectively referred to as Nanto Shichi Daiji 南都七大寺, or simply the seven great temples of the north.

One of these temples is the great Todaiji complex 東大寺, home of the largest Buddha statue in the world. Bro highly recommended visiting it, but by the time dusk fell, our legs failed us so bad we had to take frequent breaks just to sit down (not to mention later at night we moved hotels by foot). So yes, of course I’m going to come back here to see the Daibutsu 大仏, or the Great Buddha, which nearly bankrupted the Japanese government to build back during the Nara period. It’s built in 437 tonnes of bronze and 130kg of gold, and sits in the Daibutsuden大仏殿 (Great Buddha Hall), formerly the largest wooden building in the world. Back in the days, it’s even more massive than the Yingxian Wooden Pagodai in Shanxi, China. The present Daibutsuden structure is only 70% of what it originally was since its reconstruction in 1709.

 

Nara Park

Now this is the reason why deers are an icon of the whole prefecture: They’re sacred and polite! Legend has it that these deers (specifically sika deers), long venerated as the messengers of Shinto gods, arrived here since the Japanese Thor (Takemikazuchi-no-mikoto 武甕槌の尊) came riding on the back of a white deer in AD 768. The god of thunder, who’s also one of the patron deities of Japanese martial arts, was supposedly invited here from the city of Kashima 鹿嶋, the birthplace of kenjutsu 剣術, the art of Japanese swordplay. Takemikazuchi eventually became the first of 4 deities inhabiting Kasuga-taisha 春日大社, the Shinto shrine that nests within the 250-hectare Kasugayama Primeval Forest area. The whole Kasuga area is recognized as the UNESCO World Heritage site Kasugazukuri 春日造, which is on the southeast end of Nara Park (~660 hectares). That’s how killing these 1200 or so deers became a violation according to capital laws because they belong to the shrine, including even accidents are punishable by death, at least until 1637.

Thankfully, death penalties no longer exist, but these treasures are still heavily protected by the government. Looking back at this intimate experience with them, I think I might stop consuming deer antlers from now on, no matter how much the Chinese and the present Western world vouch for its performance-enhancing properties. What other wild animal can you think of that bows politely to greet you?

IMG_9785

IMG_9792
Doe sitting pretty

IMG_9786

IMG_9788
Smart stag smells cash for his crackers, or the shika-senbei 鹿煎餅. Shops all over the park sells them for you to feed them tame creatures.

Wild as they are, they can get pretty aggressive if they know you have loads of biscuits …

IMG_9790

IMG_9793

IMG_9794

IMG-20150814-WA0001

IMG-20150814-WA0000

IMG-20150814-WA0015

IMG_9796
Who’s injured your ear? :(

IMG-20150814-WA0018

IMG-20150814-WA0002

IMG-20150814-WA0014

IMG-20150814-WA0008

IMG-20150814-WA0013

IMG-20150814-WA0017
Too cute T—–T

IMG-20150814-WA0003

IMG_9801

IMG_9799

IMG_9802
Epitome of elegance

IMG-20150814-WA0009

20150710_172602

20150710_172750

20150710_172907

20150710_172909

20150710_173033

20150710_173036

20150710_173040
We can do this all day.

IMG_9804

IMG-20150814-WA0005

IMG_9808

IMG_9810

IMG_9815

IMG_9811

IMG_9813

IMG_9818

IMG-20150814-WA0026
Before we part

IMG-20150814-WA0006

IMG_9823

IMG_9824

IMG_9825

Nara Park 奈良公園


Nara
登大路町30
Nara 〒630-8501
+81 (0)742 22 0375
www.nara-park.com

Nearest JR station(s):

  • Nara 奈良 (yeap … it’s going to take a longer walk to reach the park)

 
 

Really feel like I’m missing out a lot without seeing all the Buddha structures surrounding Nara Park, but it’s a gratifying experience alone meeting my totally Japanified bro (is that a word?) and the closest encounters I’ve ever had with deers. Till next time! Next time: Day 3 of 7 | Kyoto: Gilded Kinkakuji, the bamboos at Arashiyama, and geisha district Gion.

 
 

Your turn: What’s the wild animal you’ve had the closest encounter with in your life? Bet you’re gonna get Bambi (1942) on Netflix right after visiting Nara Park, and then fall in love with does all over again ;)

 
 
 
 
 


Stace

Follow on Bloglovin

or find me on
10354177_756781854364128_3972993246285331992_n

 
 

via inari.jp

 Footnote(s):

  1. It’s a popular drugstore in Japan that carries everything in-between affordable cosmetics and high-end brands []
Tagged ,

Leave a reply

Scroll Up
%d bloggers like this: