We had a relaxed start to the morning in the hotel room. I took the chance as my family prepaired for the day to shoot what my wife affectionately calls “arty farty photos”. 😆 I think they came out rather nice 🤷‍♂️

Black and white photo showing the lower legs and feet of a person reclined and resting on a chair, partially obscured by a curtain, next to a door with frosted glass panels.

A person sits cross-legged on a tatami floor in a traditional Japanese room with shoji sliding doors. The individual appears pensive and is dressed in casual, modern clothing, contrasting with the room’s cultural aesthetic. Black and white photo.

A person sits on tatami mats in a Japanese-style room, using a smartphone. There’s a shoji sliding door to the side and belongings scattered next to the individual. The image is in black and white.

Today’s adventure is to a famous Shinto shrine dedicated to Inari. The Shinto god of rice, foxes, tea and sake. All big hits with our family those items. Also god of Agriculture, fertility, industry, general prosperity and worldly success 😳 Obviously a good Kami 1 to get to know.

Walking to the station, Kyoto is literally dazzling in the sunshine and intense heat of the Japanese summer. We knew what to expect coming here at this time of year, and it’s the only time that worked out for us, but you do have to be careful in this heat.

Stay hydrated, have supplies with you. Treat it seriously or it’ll sneak up on you for sure.

A clear, sunny day over a serene river flowing through a city with buildings alongside it and a bridge in the distance, with mountains and a blue sky with clouds above.

The train station near the shrine is a really small station with a crossing over the tracks. It was nice to see a smaller local style station after the bustle of the larger ones we’ve been navigating. You can’t really go wrong when there’s two platforms going in two directions after all! The video near the bottom of this post shows a train coming into the station if you’re interested.

A train station platform with passengers, overhead electrical lines, signal lights, and surrounding urban buildings under a clear sky. A sign with the number “1” indicates the platform number.

The walk to the shrine itself has a touristy street selling rice crackers and other snacks but you can also get a bit of a view of some less touristy areas from this location if you go slightly off the main track.

A sunny street scene with people walking near a red bridge, overhead power lines, bicycles racks, and various signage, including Japanese characters. There’s a mix of modern buildings and lush greenery in the background.

A bustling street scene with pedestrians, some holding umbrellas for shade, walking along a sidewalk with a red railing. There are buildings in the backdrop under a blue sky with scattered clouds. Utility poles and power lines are also visible.

A serene canal flanked by buildings and trees under a clear blue sky with scattered clouds.

The approach to the main shrine greets you with a ginormous Torii gate, the first of many. The main shrine area was extremely busy so after a brief explore of the grounds we hit the trail up the mountain. Yes, a mountain!

Torii gate at a Japanese shrine with visitors walking around on a sunny day, with clear blue sky and fluffy clouds overhead.

A vibrant red torii gate at the entrance of a Japanese shrine with a blue sky and scattered clouds overhead. Visitors appear as blurred figures, suggesting motion, likely representing the bustling atmosphere at the site. There are lush green trees in the background

As well as the main shrine, This location is known for the Fushimi Inari trail which goes up the local mountain (Also named Inari), where you walk through beautiful Tori paths, beautiful scenery with well spaced trail stores for the walk selling refreshments 2 small shrines and cats (yes! Many cats today!)

The gates themselves are of course an Instagram stars dream, and we saw lots of extremely hip people striking extremely cool poses and some getting very annoyed when a group of elderly tourists would simply march into shot oblivious to their social media desires… 🤣

The place was busy but not overcrowded or stifling. There’s enough space and people walking at varying speeds that you can spread yourself out. Let it be known though, if you really did want to guarantee those hauntingly empty Torii distance shots then you’d have to get here early for sure.

Two individuals posing in front of a path lined with traditional red torii gates.

Myself and my Wife posing together under the red torii gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, Japan.

My wife,  in front of traditional orange torii gates, slightly out of focus in the background.

After taking some shots ourselves3, we started the walk!

Pathway flanked by vibrant orange torii gates with a person in the background at Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, Japan.

My Son standing among orange torii gates with inscriptions at Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, Japan.

My wife and two children stand among the vibrant orange torii gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, Japan. The individual in the foreground is holding a camera, wearing a white T-shirt and cap, while the other two are smiling in the background,

The whole family taking a selfie in front of vibrant orange torii gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, Japan.

It wasn’t long until we saw our first cat snuggled asleep in a stone lantern. The first of many we’d come to see today 🐈‍⬛

A cat, fast asleep in a stone lantern holder

Each Torii is donated by a company or individual. The name of the donator is on the back of each gate. Apparently prices start at ¥400,000 and can go to over a Million Yen for a large gate.

My eldest Son standing next to a traditional stone lantern, with a background of vibrant orange torii gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, Japan.

We walked upwards through the gates, grateful of the shade of the gates themselves and the cover of the beautiful forest scenery surrounding them. We went slowly, taking breaks and enjoying the scenery (and more cats!), looking at the temples and rest-stops along the way. Our target was Yotsutsuji intersection, which is about half way up. A popular spot to take a longer rest or to begin a descent back down (there is another trail down the mountain you can take which we did.) Going further is around another hour to reach the top, and apparently apart from a small shrine and a vending machine, there isn’t actually that much of a view from the top. Yotsutsuji apparently is the best place for photos over the city.

Tourists walking through a shaded path lined with vibrant orange torii gates at a Shinto shrine in Japan, surrounded by lush greenery.

This image shows a pair of vibrant orange torii gates with black Japanese characters on them. Between the gates, a utility pole with wires is seen against a backdrop of lush green trees. Below, two traditional stone fox statues, dressed in red bibs

A black feral cat lying on the forest floor among dried leaves, next to a tree trunk, in a shaded woodland area.

We reached Yotsutsuji Intersection and let me tell you. Even walking up inclining steps in these temperatures is hard work.

Myself looking tired after the midway climb on the hike

The views from Yotsutsuji over Kyoto however are beautiful. After catching our breath we had a well deserved rest here, refreshed ourselves from the store and took in the sights.

A view over Kyoto from halfway up the trail. The entire city and the lush green hills can be seen in the background.

A tree-lined pathway leading through a series of traditional Japanese torii gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, with visitors walking beneath the vermilion structures.

A view of Kyoto with the Torii gates visible in the foreground.

I can’t explain just how crisp and clear the view was from here. It was like breathing in different air and seeing through different eyes. The flatness of the city, the enormous green covered hills rolling in the background. Like so much of Japan, the beauty is breathtaking just in the richness of what you can see.

We then started our descent which was full of more beautiful views and wildlife.

A large brown moth with distinctive eye spots on its wings resting on a green, moss-covered stone bench, with leaf litter in the background.

Not a cat, but also very cute.

Yet another cat! Outside a shrines shop that was selling beautiful cat themed postcards and Kitsune Mikuji (Fox Fortunes)

My wife crouched down petting a black and white cat lying on a doorstep, with a backpack and water bottles visible.

The shrine store’s display of cat postcards available to purchase

It’s here we learned the shrine and surrounding area is home to at least 20 cats and donations help to take care of them and give them comfortable lives. We bought some fortunes and other goods then We explored further and made our way back to the train station to go back to Kyoto central.

A collection of traditional Japanese fox statues known as “Inari,” in various colors, lined up at a Shinto shrine, with a torii gate and stone lantern visible in the background.

A series of traditional Japanese fox (kitsune) statues wearing red bibs, lined up on a shrine ledge with blurred foreground elements that resemble leaves or paper.

Torii gate and omikuji (fortune-telling paper strips) tied to a rope at a Shinto shrine in Japan, with a donation box in the foreground and a glimpse of shrine structures in the background.

A black and white photo featuring my family waiting for the train a the ration. Other passengers stand nearby, facing away.

Black and white photo of a train window with passengers inside, displaying the sign “Demachiyanagi” and the number “2525” visible on the train exterior.

Here’s a small rough video of some of our journey. I’m not much of a vlogger I’m afraid.

Kyoto Centre & Station Revisited

Kyoto Tower, a tall white structure with an observation deck, dominates the skyline over the city of Kyoto with mountains in the background and clear blue skies above.

At this point we made our way back to central Kyoto as we had to visit the station to pick up our pre-booked Shinkansen tickets for our journey to Hiroshima tomorrow. We couldn’t resist a re-visit of the Kyoto Tower foyer and our favourite food hall!

A lit up menu sign displaying a photo of ramen and a beef rice bowl combo meal.

We had such a good experience the first time we just couldn’t resist! I had a ramen set that came with a beef bowl, noodles, salmon, pancakes, gyoza and more were had.

A table in a restaurant with Japanese dishes, including a bowl of ramen with sliced pork and a rice bowl with beef topping. There is also a glass of Kirin beer and two people dining in the background.

Two fluffy pancakes topped with a dollop of whipped cream, served with a slice of lemon, a pat of butter, and a small container of syrup, sprinkled with powdered sugar and garnished with a mint leaf, presented on a gray plate.

We then made an incredible discovery about Kyoto station! Turns out we’d never actually been on the ground floor/main entrance section of it. Enquiring where to retrieve our pre-booked Shinkansen tickets we were advised to go upstairs in the station…All we had seen of Kyoto station so far was underground and lower sections apparently, as we were coming and going from subway stations. Rising to the surface and main entrance we were not prepared for how incredibly beautiful this area was.

Interior of modern looking Kyoto train station with a high geometric ceiling, bustling with people and featuring escalators and large video screens.

My wife dutifully queued up with passport in hand to collect our tickets as we took in the sights. Modern high metal structures, a huge staircase with LED lights displaying adverts and information, shops, greenery and more. It’s a great place to explore.

Another view of the high ceilinged metallic roofed Kyoto Station showing the green plantpots dotted around the site.

A black and white photo showing the metal and glass lattice that makes up the ceiling

The top level contains a small ‘garden’ (A few trees and a little bit of grass…not incredible), but contains some amazing views of the city as well as a skybridge you can walk over and get some photos of Kyoto Tower.

A view of the Kyoto landscape seen from the skybridge in Kyoto Station

A black and white image featuring a Kyoto Tower in the background with geometric structures in the foreground. Red has been selectively kept in the image

After some shopping and a look around the local gadget stores (I cannot resist a Bic or Yodobashi Camera) we moved closer to our hotel for some afternoon snacking.

Sir Thomas Lipton of Lipton tea fame is the name of a rather fancy local tea/dessert store with a history leading back to 1930’s. A homage to a London style tea house but through a distinctly Japanese style lens, it was apparently seen as bizarre up its initial opening, and drinking black tea wasn’t common. It however persevered, won over the local culture and was heartily accepted by Kyoto’s citizenry in time.

Fancy parfaits, Mont Blanc cakes and luxurious teas are the order of the day.

Food and service were exceptional. We were spoiled rotten.

My youngest son, with his curly hair, round glasses, and a colorful shirt smiling while holding a spoon and sitting in front of a tall glass of layered ice cream dessert topped with whipped cream and a long biscuit.

A piece of strawberry shortcake on a plate with a fork, featuring sliced strawberries in its filling, accompanied by another slice of cake with melon balls on another plate in the background. There’s a glass of water on the table.

After a rest at the hotel, we wandered Kyoto’s shopping streets once again.

Late Night Shopping

A store that had caught my wife’s eye which we hadn’t got around to yet was one of the local stationary stores. Entering the store gave way to its Tardis like nature as we discovered it had multiple floors and what appears to be every known brand and colour of pen known to man. We spent a while in this place looking at and trying out pens. Our basket getting fuller as we found each new wonder. 4. I’m a big fan of Frixion pens, erasable marker pens I use with a Rocketbook Pro and they had a really cool wood, all-black 3 colour pen I picked up, as well as a paper inflatable octopus who now lives on my shelf…(Why not!?)

A red octopus crafted from paper materials, with white eyes, a circular clear plastic mouth, and tentacles arranged on a wooden surface.

A crowd of people gathered near a Japanese shrine entrance, illuminated by traditional lanterns with Japanese writing.

Afterwards we wandered the shopping arcades, played some claw games and having become peckish yet again after our teahouse experience earlier, the temptation of a never seen in the UK McDonald’s burger topped with a hash brown and a teriyaki style sauce became too much to resist.

A fast food meal on a wooden table, including a burger, a drink with a straw, French fries, and various takeout packaging, with a blurred background of a living room.

We got our heads down to get a good night’s sleep before our Shinkansen ride tomorrow to our next location.

Hiroshima here we come! 🚄

  1. Shinto deities. They can be spirits, natural phenomena, holy powers, parts of the landscape people and so on. ↩︎

  2. Dear reader Pocari Sweat saved my life in the Japanese summer. I highly reccomend having some to hand as well as some Salt Candy ↩︎

  3. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em 😘🤳 ↩︎

  4. Thank goodness for Tax Free shopping in Japan. As these products were for use out of country we had to have them sealed in a bag with a receipt to only open when we left the country. A small price to pay for a….smaller price to pay! 🤷‍♂️ ↩︎