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Japan: Mount Inari and the philosopher’s walk

inari gateMount Inari is a famous temple mountain, mostly for its huge collection of red gates along the paths. Usually a single red gate marks the beginning of the sacred area, but at mount inari, there’s hundreds of them.

inari circus

Almost like a tunnel, and along several hundred meters of paths. And yup, it’s pretty crowded, so not exactly a serene athmosphere.

inari tunnel 2

Pretty.

inari zen 2

Most people, as always at popular sights, only make it to the very beginning, take a picture in front of the popular sight, and leave. Once you get higher up the mountain, the crowds vanish almost completely.

inari path

Also, I got lost. Meant to follow a sign to another temple just a few hundred meters away, and ended up following a path that led completely away from the main area. Which turned out to be great – a wonderful little hike through the bamboo woods with almost nobody in sight.

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Which was good, because the crowds gave me a bit of a headache. The night before I had closed down the bar in the hostel together with these guys (a very nice British tourist, and the two guys running the hostel and its bar). They were happy to have some foreigners there to test which drinks they were planning to offer in the future. Some Japanese wine turned out to be horrible, in exchange they poured us some Sake on the house (which tasted like fermented mushrooms…), we discovered some excellent Japanese whisky, and so on…

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By the way, we got inspired to some scientific experiments: The Japanese one-yes coin, which is very light, and not worth much (less than a cent), does indeed, with some effort, float on water..

inary way up

It was hot, it was humid, and the way got steep. And the mountain is so holy that you’re not allowed to even drink water. Well, on this lonely path, whether or not I happened to have a beer in my pack or not, and whether or not that was a good antidote to my hangover, is between the Shinto gods and me…

inari cemetery

The path winds past a few of these lonely, half-forgotten cemeteries. Must be super creepy in the dark.

inari cemetery 2

inari me

Not much of a view on top, so a view of some more red gates will have to do. Mount Inari was one of my favorite places in Kyoto, interesting, beatiful and strange like so much of Japan, and also really good to get out of a big city for once, and hike through some nature.

lunch broth

Lunch at a Japanese casual restaurant at the station. Rice, soup (the teapot above is in fact not a teapot, but the broth to pour over the rice), and some more unknown but tasty proteins.

ginkaku

On the last day in Japan, the so-called “philosopher’s walk” winding between various temples along a canal. Above is the garden of Ginkaku temple at the start of the walk.

ginkaku garden

Yup, more pics of lovely Japanese gardens.

ginkaku garden 2

ginkaku philosopher

The philopher’s walk along the canal. Pleasant enough, but I was a bit templed out by this point, so skipped most others.

Lunch today was prepared by these guys along the road: the process involved frying some dough, filling it with eggs and lots of cabbage, liberally coating it in soy sauce, and finally putting some fish flakes on top.inari hiroshima

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The end result looked strange, but ended up tasting really good. By the way, being able to handle chopsticks is a real advantage in Japan – while most food sellers will be polite and attentive enough to supply you with a fork when they see you struggling, a lot of times they will simply not have any forks.

ginkaku philosophers end

Yet more beatiful gardens, of course. This part was not even really part of a garden, just before the entrance of a temple that was closed.

ginkaku bamboo

And some nice views into the bamboo woods.

ginkaku philosophers kimono

And with this, leaving behind not just the philosopher’s walk, and the ladies above, but also leaving Japan – next up: Hongkong.

 

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