Kyoto – The Land of Golden Temples, Orange Shrines, & Bamboo Forests

Looking back on Kyoto now, it’s all a bit of a blur as we packed as much into 5 days as humanly possible. Making our way from Nagano to Kyoto, we made couple stops to break up the five and a half hour journey, including a one night stop at an awesome riverside Airbnb. Picking up the drive the following sunny, we played along a river and stopped at a see no evil, say no evil, hear no evil shrine that I think is incredibly adorable.

Finally making it to our Airbnb and home for the week in Kyoto, we headed out and rented bikes for the week just in time for the rain to come pouring down. Rain has never stopped us outside and it sure wasn’t going to stop us adventuring around the city. In true form our first stop was to grab interesting bites around downtown and then head to Pontocho Alley to explore all the interesting nooks and crannies, and a bar or two.

Fushimi Inari Taisha

Fushimi Inari Shrine is Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto, made famous by it’s thousands of orange vermilion torii gates that you hike through to the top. This hike was no joke, and though the beginning was akin more to an amusement park ride, the higher we climbed the thinner the crowds became.

Starting our day off with a proper breakfast was in order, and we happened upon one of the more adorable (and delicious) restaurants appropriately named Vermillion. A riverside quiet oasis just off the busy and noisy streets near the shrine. We sipped our coffee happily taking in the sound of birds, and light rushing water. We got there just in time to snag the best spot near the river and watched the outdoor deck quickly fill behind us.

Fueled up and ready to hike, we made our way to the mouth of the shrine and realized quickly that it was the Emperor’s Birthday, which is a national holiday and meant that the shrine was packed. At first everyone was hiking on each other’s heels, but eventually as you get higher there are additional paths you can take, and different areas of the shrine to explore.

Making it all the way to the top wasn’t easy, but the view was beautiful and much less crowded than the base. The sun was shining, birds were chirping, and the first blossoms were starting to burst to life, spring was in the air after a long winter of snowboarding. On our way home, we got much needed spontaneous haircuts, and planned for our evening ahead of Fugu – also known as the poisonous pufferfish.

Our final day in Kyoto was spent wandering the the mesmerizing Bamboo Forests. We somehow managed to snap a few photos that make it look like we are the only ones there, but at some points it was wall to wall people.