I could tell you that we went to visit shrine Fushimi Inari because we want to pay tribute to Inari, the patron of merchants in Japan. In fact, each torii in the famed shrine in the base of the sacred Inari mountain is donated by business, each torii costing 400,000 to 1,000,000 yen, the donation proportional to the torii’s size. Statues of foxes abound the trails of toriis at Inari, the Shinto god of rice and sake. These foxes, or Kitsunes, are Inari’s messengers, holding in their mouths the key to the rice granaries. There are 5000 brightly painted toriis of different sizes in the seemingly unending picturesque trail, making it Kyoto’s most popular tourist destination.
Or I could tell you that I made sure we go here because I wanted to be young Sayuri, running under the toriis in Memoirs of A Geisha, except unlike the movie, this tourist area is packed. It’ll be quite difficult to run without bumping on somebody or getting almost decapitated by a selfie stick.
And then there is Jr, who innocently asks…
“Kailan tayo pupunta sa mga lapis?” (When are we going to the pencils?)
“Ahhh, the torii”
When I was planning for Japan, I had a hard time booking our rooms. This was three sold months before the trip, so these were not last minute bookings, but somehow, all the rooms in good location are booked way ahead of time, on the particular week we were in Japan. And then I found out it was the exact week where autumn in Japan is in full fall explosion. There are two super high tourist season in Japan: that week in Spring when cherry blossoms bloom, and the week where the colorful leaves of Autumn start to fall, and we have unknowingly set our vacation right smack in the middle of that crazy fall booking season.
But this is Japan, and even in Kyoto where the bus system is much more convenient than subways, any hotel location is a good location as long as there is a bus stop. You can get anywhere fast as long as you know which bus to take, and armed with a 500 yen day bus pass, you can pretty much go anywhere in Kyoto.