On our fourth day in Japan we left the capital to continue our journey across Japan. Unfortunately we left it until the late afternoon to book our shinkansen tickets (using our JR pass) and so all the trains before 10 were fully booked! We did manage to get seats D and E as this is the right side of the train to get a glimpse of Mount Fuji as you speed past. That meant we had a bit of the morning for a final walk around Ueno before getting a taxi to Tokyo Station and getting on the shinkansen.
Once we had arrived in Kyoto baggage in tow we headed to our accommodation for the next 5 nights, K’s house Kyoto. K’s house are a chain of hostel/hotels through Japan, we stayed in three different locations on our 2013 trip and have booked into 3 this trip also. They are really great places to stay, we booked a private room with en-suite which worked out as much cheaper than surrounding business hotels, with the added bonus of a kitchen, bar and breakfast option.
As our first outing in Kyoto we headed for the number 1 tourist destination in the whole of the city: Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine. Not wanting to sit on any trains for the rest of the day we decided to walk to the shrine, before hiking to the top of the mountain.
The shrine complex was heaving with tourists, as usual, and the hike to the top was slow and frustrating at times, with people stopping in the middle of the torii gates to take selfies. Once at the top the view was fantastic and, not wanting to follow the crowd, we took a route down that was signposted “no exit”. We were glad we did.
We only saw one other person on the way down, a local who had traveled up via moped to light candles at an altar. With no noisy tourists or clogged paths we could enjoy the ancient beauty of the mountain and the lovingly maintained shrines and altars. One slight issue was when nearing the bottom of the mountain we came to a bamboo forest, which was beautiful. Unfortunately the resident monkeys were not pleased to see their human cousins, and we were attacked. No injuries sustained we quickly got back to civilisation and walked through a rather expensive looking estate of huge houses.
One the way back to the hostel we decided to stick to the canal which was lined with cherry blossom and had a great view of Kyoto tower.
That night we simply explored the surrounding areas of our hotel, getting some great yozakura in! Nothing like an empty playground for added creepy factor!