Japan Blog: Day 6

Japan Blog: Day 6

Day 6

Fushimi Inari (visit #3), Tofukuji, Shimogamo Shrine, Munakata Shrine, Ippodo Tea

Red gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine on Kyoto

I really wanted to take pictures of Fushimi Inari while there were less people around, so we decided to get up extremely early this day to go visit the shrine before it opened… However, one of us is not an early riser, so it ended up being closer to 7:30am that we left the Airbnb. It was beautiful and peaceful so early, with a few people walking the trail, but it was empty enough to take a lot of great pictures. We are thoroughly obsessed with the entire mountain, so staying nearby was the right choice. 

Fushimi Inari Fushimi Inari Shrine


(Like we mentioned in our last blog, you can walk the paths on Mt. Inari any time of day! Early morning is a great time, but none of the shops or shrine buildings along the way will be open, just like our night visit.)

Cat at Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

Shrine Cat at Fushimi Inari Taisha A cat walking through the tori gates at Fushimi Inari

Another benefit of going early was all the local cats were out and about! In our two previous visits, we'd only seen one cat, so this was exciting. This one orange fellow was just sitting in a shrine alcove, meowing at us.

Hidden viewpoint on Mount Inari showing Kyoto city

We walked up the main path to the halfway mark, Yotsusuji, and then headed to a great overlook point with a beautiful view, just off the normal path. We’d done some research on the various trails on the mountain the night before, so naturally we had to go the obscure way again! The view is indeed beautiful and has a much wider scope than the one at the halfway point.

(Lynnette’s Note: How to find the viewpoint… From Yotsusuji, with the downhill trail to your back, take the left most path until you reach a small shrine, go toward the left, behind the shrine [we actually cut through it] and you’ll find another path that leads you right to this viewpoint!)

Shrine on the grounds of Tofukuji Temple

From the viewpoint, we realized that we were already almost halfway to our next destination for the morning, Tofukuji temple. So, instead of walking all the way back down the mountain and taking the train one stop, we decided to take a hiking trail down. It’s part of the Kyoto Trail (part of a network of hiking trails throughout Kyoto), so it’s maintained for the most part. We used GPS to make sure we were going the right way. It wasn’t a difficult hike-- not like climbing the mountain the back way to the top! But there were a lot of rather steep paved areas to descend down and they were damp since it was early morning.

Tofukuji Temple, Kyoto Tofukuji Temple, Kyoto
Komainu dog near Tofukuji Small shrine on the Tofukuji grounds

It was still early, so Tofukuji wasn’t open yet, but we still explored the grounds and took some pictures. By then we were exhausted, so we took the train back to Fushimi Inari, where we had some delicious breakfast Yakitori and Yakisoba! After a short rest back at our Airbnb, we headed out again.

Yakitori from food vendor near Fushimi Inari Street near Fushimi Inari Shrine

Shimogamo shrine is one of the few shrines in Japan dedicated to Yatagarasu, a mythical golden crow. As it is the inspiration for the name of our business, as well as our logo, it was a must-see on our list. The shrine itself is small, but beautiful. We stocked up on crow related omamori (good luck charms) as well. We also visited the Kawai shrine, which is a small shrine dedicated to women on the same grounds.

Crow banner at Shimogamo Shrine Traditional bridge at Shimogamo Shrine
Shimogamo Shrine Entrance Stream at Shimogamo Shrine

Kawai Shrine, Kyoto

Shimogamo is also recently popular because of an anime!  We were wondering why there were random anime cutouts and a whole cabinet in the gift shop dedicated to this anime, so we had to look it up later.  

Yatagarasu good luck charms from Shimogamo Shrine

We then walked to the Kyoto Imperial Palace, which was sadly closed that day since it's only open on very specific days, but we still enjoyed the park itself, and visited a few of the small shrines on the grounds, our favorite being the small Munakata shrine, where we met a lot of wild life! One cat walked right up to us, demanding pets! There were quite a few cats wandering the grounds, as well as a heron sitting atop one of the entrance gates!  

Munakata Shrine, Kyoto Park A sleepy cat at Munakata Shrine, Kyoto, Japan
A lone heron on the gate at Munakata Shrine in Kyoto Park
A cat we met at Munakata Shrine in Kyoto Cat at Munakata Shrine, Kyoto


We continued our walk to Ippodo Tea, which is an amazing tea store, as well as a tea room where you can experience authentically brewed Japanese tea. (They also offer tea ceremony classes, which we did not do.) Don’t fret, if you’re unsure of how to properly brew your teas, the workers there will tell you how to do it! There is English speaking staff in the shop and the tea room, as it’s a popular tourist destination. It’s a nice, quaint spot to sit down, elax and enjoy some traditional style tea. I had Hojicha, and Lynnette got their special year of the dog blend of Matcha.

Hojicha Green Tea at Ippodo Tea Room, Kyoto

Year of the Dog Matcha at Ippodo Tea Room, Kyoto

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