Monday, July 23, 2007

Inari Festival Part Two

Last night we headed back to the fushimi-Inari Shrine. We went back with the intent purpose of climbing the mountain. On Saturday night we went with friends and some of them were less interested in a four kilometer hike up a mountain. As a result the group decided not to go up. It really was not that big of a problem, and we decided as a family to go back on Sunday night. Firstly to go up the mountain and witness the light-up. Secondly to enjoy the festival atmosphere that was ending on Sunday night. We took the train back down to Kyoto in the afternoon to return to the shrine. We had packed a picnic lunch before we left. Some riceballs, a sandwich, some chips, water, and Logan's favorite snack, Koala Yummies.

We started the hike in excellent spirits. The weather was hot, but not unbearable. We began to climb up the path at about 5:30. Now to tell more about the path that winds its way up the mountainside. There is a stone path that you walk upon, but it is not the remarkable thing. It is what is above you that is amazing. The Fushimi-Inari Shrine is famous for its Tori Gates. Tori Gates are the iconic black and orange gates that signal the entrance to a Shinto Shrine. All the way up the mountain the path is encircled by Tori Gates. They are lined up, one next to another, all the way up the mountain. Thousands of gates creating a spectacular corridor all the way up the mountain. There are also small shrines and monuments to various gods along the path. In the evening it creates a very erie and spooky walk.

The hike was by far the best one we have been on here in Japan. It got to be dreadfully hot and deathly humid the closer we got to the top, but it was worth all the hard work. The view from the top was magnificent. My favorite part was listening to Logan talk on the hike up. Some times there was a gap in the line of gates where you could see the remains of the footing of a gate that had been removed. When Logan saw one of these gaps he would chant in a very sing-song voice. "Oh-no. They missed one. They will have to built a new one." And when we got to the next gap he would sing this variation. "Oh-no. They lost one. They will have to built a new one." It got to be a bit tiresome to hear the same thing repeated over and over, but to be honest, I thought it was the cutest thing ever. We ate our picnic at the top, as it began to sprinkle rain on us. I for one did not mind the rain drops. They seemed to cool me off a bit, and it did not rain hard or for very long. Then we started the trek back down the mountain. We started downward by a different path than we used to ascend, but it soon grew too dark and we back tracked and retraced our steps back down the mountain.

We ended the evening with a cold bowl of ichigo kakigori. That would be a big bowl filled with shaved ice covered in strawberry syrup. That was by far the best way to end a hot hike up and down the mountain. A perfect ending to a great day. We finally made it home about ten o'clock and collapsed into bed exhausted.

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