So. Many. People. Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine.

It’s been clear since we left the train, it’s going to be crowded. Very crowded. Inari station is tiny and there is a fancy cris-cross in front of the exit gates, because many of the tourists have railpass and need to get through the special gate. And then there are only three in total and a whole train to unload.
(Side note: There is a place called Inari, いなり, how awesome is that. おいしい〜 nom nom nom.)

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And then there was this Russian guy, but that’s a completely different story.
The shrine itself is a masterpiece; shiny red wooden structures with many gold applications. It’s no wonder why thousands of tourists and locals come here everyday. I can’t imagine going here during a holiday – it must be too crowded to breath.

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I have been to my fair share of shrines so far, this one is awesome and the whole structure is huge. If it wasn’t for the crowd…
Nature is very pretty out here. Sometimes when a blob of people just passed by, you can actually hear the forest.

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Also I cannot believe I got a picture with almost no people in it. I really have to wonder, how many gates there are. Let’s just say many.

I really don’t want to turn my vacation into a hunt for good pictures, after all I might be here only once in my life, so I’d rather enjoy it without the camera, but that is somehow impossible it seems. (Side note: I am almost certain, it’s not my only time going there.)
Going further up the mountain there are yet more gates to come and fewer and fewer people make it here. Going deeper into the forest there is a small stream of water running down. Hearing the birds is just wonderful. It makes you appreciate nature even more. This place would be truly amazing without all the people.

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It also gets colder as you move up and since I still have not given in to the fact that winter is coming – I am wearing shorts – I can really feel it with my legs. Moving forward keeps me warm and coffee. Hot coffee.
About half way up the mountain you can have a nice view over Kyoto. Although I was completely unable to make out any landmark.

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There are more viewing places as you progress. If you want to do the whole tour around the mountain I recommend bringing comfy shoes and also some time. It takes much longer than I originally anticipated.
On top of the mountain there is a small tea salon and another place of worship, it’s quiet here. And there are also more gates, stacked wherever there is space.

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The area can be walked about like a round course, so you don’t have to worry that you need to see a gate twice.
And then when you don’t expect it any more, there actually comes a section with only a few gates. Just after that area, at the Yakurikitei shrine along the way, there is quite a wonderful espresso bar called Vermilion. It seems quite new as it is not yet on Google maps. The coffee was a real treat.

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And for the final part of the pilgrimage it started raining, but that’s just Japan; it can always be expected.
All in all we spent much more time here than I thought we would. The wonderful thing about vacation, however, is that you need not worry about time and can do whatever you like. I liked it very much, so I am very satisfied. After all it’s never about seeing as much as possible, but experiencing what you see to the fullest extent.
And tomorrow is a new day.

Add-on
I am on my second to last page of the Goshuin-chō and I’ll share the stamp just so that I won’t forget that.
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