Fushimi-inari and Last-Minute Kyoto

Well, my last day in Kyoto is here.

After I finally figured out that the 20th was Sunday and not Saturday, I realized that I could still go out and see a few more things. I also had arranged to have lunch with my CP Yohei who works at the Hyatt Regency Miyako.

I spent the morning at Fushimi-inari shrine in the southeast part of town. It’s renowned for its Fox Guardians and the thousands of Torii gates that line its paths up into the woods. It’s set in absolutely beautiful forest and it was thankfully fairly cool there, at least in the morning. I spent time walking through the grounds feeling the same way I did at Kurama the first time—this sense of spiritual wonder. It’s hard to describe and photos just don’t do it justice.

Next I wanted to go to Sanjusangen-do (the shrine with 33 doors) but since I forgot my city map I only had a general idea of where it was. Turns out I should have gotten off the train at Shichijo, but I got off at Shijo, wasted time walking all over town, back down to Kyoto Station then got lost trying to find the place (which is right next door to the Hyatt). I wasted nearly 2 hours that I could have used more productively (not to mention some extra train and subway fare) before I showed up right on time for lunch. Yohei took me to a little noodle place where we both had cold Soba—and he ended up paying for me even though I’d said it was my treat. You’ve got to be fast here and all I can say is he had better come to California so I can pay him back! We finally parted at the gate of Sanjuysangen-do—another “one life, one meeting” kind of sadness. I hope to see him again someday.

Sanjusangen-do was amazing! It houses a thousand golden buddhas and other priceless statuary from the Heian and Kamakura periods—extremely impressive. They also hold Kyudo (Japanese archery) events there like thousand-arrow shoots and even 24-hour tournaments. I was reading one story of a famous archer who did the 24 hour shoot, firing over 13,000 arrows! It works out to 9 arrows per minute. Astounding!

Back at the dorms, I had to get serious about packing plus do my share of the room cleaning. I’d actually volunteered to do the bathroom, which brings up one of my favorite things about the Japanese bathroom. In newer buildings like the dorms, they’re “unit bathrooms”, which are basically pre-fabbed, slide-in modules. They are completely watertight, including a drain in the floor since in Japan, you wash yourself outside the tub before you get in and soak. This makes it extremely easy to clean since you essentially get naked, close the door and scrub and rinse the whole place without worry. I sure wish I could have the same back home.

After shipping all my books and a bunch of other stuff home, my suitcases are actually lighter and have more room in them than on the way over. I’ll get a good night’s sleep and then it’s Vacation Time!

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