japan & korea 2017, travel

Japan and Korea 2017 (Day 8) Part 1: Fushimi Inari, & Hiking On Inari Mountain

Welcome to Day 8: Part 1 of my Japan & Korea 2017 travel series! I’ve decided to dedicate this post to Day 8 up to about lunchtime, because I have a large amount of photos to share with you, and I also have a lot to talk about, because Fushimi Inari was #1 on my list of things to see on this trip! We also did have an early start, so we did a lot before lunch (including climbing a mountain! What?!) And it really didn’t let me down. It was truly magical. Continue reading to see what I mean!

As I mentioned in Day 7: Part 2, we decided to get up really early on the morning of Day 8 so that we could give Fushimi Inari another go before any other tourists showed up. In case you missed it, in Day 7: Part 1, I talked about how crazy Fushimi Inari was when our Airbnb host drove us there (around 3 pm, if I remember correctly). It was so crowded, that we were moving at a snail’s pace, and would definitely not make it to the top of the mountain before sundown (when Japanese temples and shrines close to the public).

So, we woke up at 5 or 6 am, got dressed, check out of our Airbnb, and then headed straight for Fushimi Inair. And our plan worked, because (as you can see in the photos), especially compared to the previous day, everything looked deserted. It was perfect. And it was also eerie, and magical. I’m so happy that we went back!

As you can see, I really had the space and opportunity to take a lot of photos. Fushimi Inari is so beautiful, and it really wasn’t hard to find things to photograph. Seriously. And I was so happy that there were no people there to bump into me, or to ruin any of my shots. I’ve never been more happy about waking up early, ever!

Steadily, we made our way up the mountain, taking in the sights as we went. It did get difficult after a certain point, even after we’d built our stamina with all of the walking we’d done in the days before this one. We did climb a mountain after all.

I can’t say that I’ve ever enjoyed climbing any other mountain more (and yes, I have climbed other mountains, haha, we had plenty of those in Austria, where I used to live). We had the perfect weather and temperature for our trip up Inari mountain, and I love how all of the photos turned out! I took a lot more photos than the ones here too, haha. These are just the ones that I selected from the pics that I posted on Instagram!

When we reached the top, we saw that (even if we had not enjoyed the climb as much as we had, due to the beauty we’d been surrounded by) the view would have been totally worth the effort. We could see most of Kyoto from up there, and it was just a really surreal and accomplished feeling!

After having spent quite a bit of time (I didn’t check my watch, but I think it did take us 1-2 hours or so) to get to the top, we didn’t want to leave right away. So after catching our breaths, and drinking some water that we were able to buy from the very handy dispensing machines, we decided to explore what was at the top of Inari mountain. And I’m so glad that we did! There were so many foxes everywhere, and those red-orange toori that I love. We also found an alternate route off the mountain after we’d gotten our fill of exploring, which was great, because although the route we took up was beautiful, we’re the type of people who will never pass up seeing something new. So, we started heading down, and encountered a route that was very different from our climb up, and quite beautiful in a completely different way!

The way that we took down Inari mountain lead through an ancient forest that looked almost untouched by humanity, except for the occasional small shrines, fountains, and toori on the way down. It was incredible, and just like some of the forest I grew up with in Studio Ghibli films, and Japanese live action films. Seeing that forest, and being able to really take our time with experiencing it all, was incredible. I do not have the words to describe the feelings I was experiencing by that point in the day. I had not only seen the famous walk up Inari mountain, with it’s many red-orange toori (believe me, it’s quite famous!), but I was also seeing this other side (literally) of the mountain, and this forest that I hadn’t even known existed.

I’m really glad that I had a phone with such a great camera before leaving on this trip, because I had opted against packing my DSLR because it’s actually my boyfriend’s, and I was worried about breaking or losing it. And it’s also quite heavy, and I really don’t like lugging heavy things around. My backpack had already gained some weight due to the souvenirs we’d picked up in Kyoto, and because we’d checked out of our Airbnb and were carrying all of our 2-day trip luggage with us. I’m glad that we had woken up as early as we had, and were really making use of daylight, because despite our busy itinerary, we could still take our time, and not get too overheated.

After spending what felt like hours (but still not enough time) in that magical Japanese forest, we surprisingly emerged right into a rich, suburban area. It was quite a contrast to the traditional things, and the lack of humanity and urbanity that we had seen all of that morning. But it was still really nice to see all of those wealthy homes perched up on a hill. It was getting a little hot by that point, and our luggage was weighing us down, but my parents really enjoyed looking at the architecture and gardens around us. Using our handy dandy Google Maps GPS, we found our way back to the main Fushimi Inari area, and I’m so glad that we did, because I really wanted a souvenir to go with this special experience. And that is how I met my new friend, the Fushimi Inari fox! From that point, we made our way to a really rustic train station that I loved, and headed toward Nara and Osaka! Join me next time to hear all about what we did in Nara and Osaka!


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