Monday, July 20, 2015

Day 4 - Fushimi-inari

I never thought I would see so many many many kimonos! Especially while I'm in Japan, there's this special Gion-festival season and today was the holiday Sea-Day, so many people went out with their festive kimono cloth. I was also amazed by the shoes they wore: A straight piece of wood foot size with two wooden blocks underneath. Must be uncomfortable but looks so great!

And I never thought I would sweat so much. As today was a holiday I thought I might have to wear something knee covered and so I decided to wear this long white skirt. Not only it was quite difficult to drive safe on my bike but also the heat condensated on my legs underneath the skirt. After a while the cloth and my skin were glued together and it was even a challenge to walk all these steps to the top of the mountain and back down. It took us like three or four hours, the up and down, but it certainly felt like more. I can't imagine not to die of heat with long-sleeved shirts, long trousers and not even sandals to air your feet! And you see a lot of people like this. It is amazingly incredible... In the meantime an elderly Japanese lady fortunately recognized my shortness of breath (or my huge amount of sweat) and asked me to sit down on that bench. I thought this was so kind and made use of my Japanese vocabulary: domo arigato gozaimasu, I said. She immediately started some kind of monologue with a smile from one ear to the other and when she finished I just smiled in return and said hai what means yes. I guess I nailed it.

The Fushimi-inari Shrine by the foot of the hill

A spectacle, quite simply. I cannot guess the number of toris I walked through today. I believe the whole hill is full of! And the incredible thing is that all these toris are donated by wealthy people. The big ones that you can walk through cost far more than 50'000 CHF. You can even buy really small toris (15cm height) for little money if you aren't that wealthy. We also came across many wells in which you could wash your hands and mouth before going into the temple or to a holy place - but you mustn't touch the water with, it has to touch you (by pour it over your hand with a dipper). I even remarked loud slapping and some sort of cowbell ringing at every sacred place - to call attention to their God.

At half past five we finally got our lunch in a local restaurant called Kendonya that we luckily found due to a picture on tripadvisor, because the name was written in Japanese characters, though... Nice beef curry udon, if you somewhen get there, too.

Thousands of toris with the donators' name engravings

What I learned? Growing old in Japan must be hard and I have great respect for the elderly Japanese ladies and gentlemen. Even with my young 17 years my back and butt hurt from sitting or sleeping on the ground the whole time. Second: never wear a long skirt if you have to ride a bike - it's the most unexpedient thing you could ever do. And take the Japanese as an example: always keep an umbrella and a towel with you. It might be pure burning sun and your sweat pouring. In this humid heat you'll be thankful for every shady and dry place. And you won't receive weird looks though everybody uses this strategy.
The final tori on top of the mountain with a view at least over Kyoto

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