Friday, 22 April 2011

Climb Every Mountain

Before we set out each morning, we check the weather forecast and plan our day accordingly. So today`s "20% chance of rain" seemed a safe enough bet for a day of hiking. Back in England, I`d scoured the internet and found a lovely, scenic but quite strenuous hike up the mountains, starting from Fushimi Inari shrine which is a great place to visit in itself.

We arrived at the shrine in time for an early lunch. I had a speciality of the area - oinari-zushi - pockets of fried tofu stuffed with rice. Another local speciality on the menu was grilled sparrow on a stick; apparently in the olden days there were too many sparrows around the shrine, so people started eating them to keep the numbers down. Although Boyf was tempted, nobody from our group tried this particular delicacy.
The others had cucumber sushi...
...tempura donburi (rice bowl)...
...and nishin soba (smoked herring and noodle soup).
Just as we finished our meal, we found ourselves on the wrong end of the "20% chance of rain". It was pouring! We decided to take a leisurely walk around the shrine and see what happened.
There are thousands and thousands of red `torii` gates all over the shrine. This tunnel of gates was featured in the `Memoirs of a Geisha` film. It was great to get a shot withot tourists in!

It was apparent that the rain wasn`t going away, so in true British style we decided to hike up the mountain anyway! After all, we had my printed route to follow...until SOMEBODY thought it would be a great idea to follow a random little path instead and see where it led...

...well, it led up. And up. And up. Up concrete paths, forest floor, neverending steps, up and up and up until our legs could take it no more. And all the time it rained good, old-fashioned, proper wet rain. As we`d taken a random path, there were none of the views or resting places from the proper route, just neverending upness. There were shrines dotted around near the foot of the mountain.
And pretty flowers to see. We were also accompanied by the sound of nightingales, which was lovely.
EVENTUALLY we reached the top and there was absolutely nothing to be done but to come back down. By this time we had the added hazard of slippery wet scree to negotiate - it really was a wonder we got down with our ankles intact! But what an adventure!!!

When we finally reached the bottom, we realised we`d climbed right round the other side of the mountain, so instead of being in Kyoto we were now somewhere in the outback of Fushimi, in the rain, lost. I looked back to take a quick shot of the mountain we`d conquered.
After much broken Japanese and gesticulating with several kindly-looking old ladies, we found a bus which took us back to the safe environs of Kyoto.

Not quite the day we`d planned, but it`s given us another tale to tell nonetheless. But by heck, our legs will be feeling it in the morning!

1 comment:

  1. You take great pictures.
    It makes me miss Kyoto so much.
    I lived in Japan for 7 years and I love the country and miss my friends.
    Ann Clement.