I went just in time to see the sunset, and a lot of people seemed to have the same idea. Such a perfect way to spend the last days of summer!
There are a number of free telescopes inside the tower, which are actually so fun to use! You can see everything from Kiyomizu-dera to the people walking on the street, which was kind of cool yet creepy. Apparently it's even possible to see as far as Osaka Castle on a good day!
The face of someone who had been walking for ten hours straight. Anyway, that brings an end to my travel posts! Even though it was short, I definitely think I made the most of my four days in Kyoto. I got to catch up with old friends, and saw things that had been on my bucket list for the longest time. Travelling solo was also a huge learning experience, and made me realise I'm more capable than I initially thought.
Anyway, despite being back in school I haven't been idle since coming back from Kyoto. I have so many photos to share from Nikko among other places, which I can't wait to post. It's about time I finally bring my blog posts up to real time, woohoo!
Just a sneak peak of the bamboo groves to come! The trees provided some much needed shade from the heat that day, thank goodness.
Before heading out to the bamboo forest I decided to check out Tenryu-ji (天龍寺), a Zen temple at the foot of the mountains. I was actually pleasantly surprised, and spent a decent amount of time there! In particular, I think I could've stared at this pond garden for hours. Something about the water with the mountains in the background made feel so relaxed, despite being far from alone in the moment.
I have no idea who it's meant to be, but this face popped up quite a few times at Tenryu-ji! It still makes me chuckle a little on the inside...
The bamboo forest was actually much smaller than I expected, and packed to the brim. It was pretty much impossible to take photos without someone getting in the way, but luckily I managed to get a nice shot of myself thanks to a kind stranger!
If you walk a little further, you'll find the popular Kimono Forest tucked away in Arashiyama Station. The patterned pillars display traditional textiles, and actually light up when it gets dark! Sadly I didn't have time to stick around for that long, though.
Aaand that was my day in Arashiyama! I kind of regretted not spending more time there, since there were a ton of shops and eateries I didn't get to explore properly. Definitely something to keep in mind for the next time I visit, though!
Anyway, there are a number of buses that frequent the area, but I was feeling optimistic and decided to take the scenic route that day. My first stop was Houryuji (法隆寺) which is famous for being the oldest temple in Japan. I actually have no idea what these acorn-like things are meant to represent, but you have to admit they look pretty cool!
Of course, you can't go to Nara without coming across the hundreds of deer that call it home. They're actually completely wild, and have been roaming the place for some time now! Ever since Nara was the capital of Japan, deer have been seen as messengers of the Shinto gods. Today, they tend to walk around wherever they please and chase down tourists for senbei, or rice crackers.
No matter how many times I visit Todaiji (東大寺), I think I'll always be blown away by the sheer size of it. Just look at the building in comparison to all the tiny people! Inside you'll find various national treasures of Japan, including this bronze Buddha statue.
At this point my feet were screaming, and I was considering skipping Kasuga Grand Shrine (春日大社) altogether. I'm so glad I stuck it out though! It's such a magical place, and that's just talking about the road leading up to it. The deer and moss everywhere totally reminded me of Princess Mononoke, and I felt like one of those little forest sprites would pop out any second.
A much deserved ice cream after all that walking. I was on a pretty tight schedule, but I'd definitely say that a whole day is needed to explore Nara properly! The relaxed atmosphere makes it the kind of place you should take your time visiting.
Hands down, Fushimi Inari Shrine (伏見稲荷大社) has to be my favourite place in all of Kyoto. In fact, I loved it so much that I actually ended up going twice on my trip! I wasn't entirely satisfied with my pictures the first time, so like any crazy photographer would I revisited early on a weekday and it was amazing. There wasn't a soul in sight except for a few grannies on their morning stroll. I also spotted some young women in suits, making a quick visit before what I assume was an important job interview.
It's pretty easy to tell which photos were and weren't taken on the weekend! Regardless of when you visit though, there's something so relaxing about strolling through those red gates. What most photos don't show is the fact that Fushimi Inari is basically in the middle of the forest. You can really hear the sounds of nature and birds chirping, making for an unforgettable experience.
On the back of the torii gates you'll find the names of their donors, as well as a date stamp. There are actually quite a few empty spots, since the gates get knocked down when they start to rot and are deemed unsafe.
If you're up for the hike, it is possible to climb all the way to the top of Mount Inari. Believe me though, by the time I reached the halfway point I was already dying! The stairs get a lot steeper past this point, so most people turn around there.
A lucky sighting of a shrine priest! An old Japanese man was also there taking pictures and when the priest passed, we kind of looked at each other in shock before going to follow him haha.
Why all the fox imagery, you may ask? In Japanese folklore foxes are the messengers of the gods, although not always the most reliable ones. Apparently there are many legends of humans being tricked by malevolent foxes, particularly those posing as beautiful women. In any case, there's definitely no shortage of fox-related souvenirs to buy around here!