We floated through tunnels of bright vermilion, passing by a blur of kanji characters, black font etched in columns on either side. Thirsty and exhausted from the trek up the mountain stairs, we encouraged each other to keep climbing. The steps were a steep incline and our legs trembled against the hard rock, but our senses were alert, piqued by the sights and sounds all around us. The path that was normally well defined would periodically detour as trailing steps into the lush forest; stones that were somehow forgotten by time…We were in Kyoto, a magical journey up to the head shrine of Fushimi Inari Taisha.
Arashiyama is located at the base of Kyoto’s western mountains, and is a lush green town with the famous bamboo grove and the Tenryu-ji temple. The area has always been a popular destination since historic times (Heian Period 794-1185), when aristocrats and nobles would escape the capital to enjoy its natural setting and breathtaking beauty during the cherry blossom and fall color seasons. Today, the area is bustling with tourist activity, making it difficult to capture its true essence. But it’s still worth the trip to get a refreshing break from the main city and all the temples and shrines. This is how we spent our time there!