1000 gates in Kyoto – Fushimi Inari Taisha
Inari shrine of Fushimi in the south of Kyoto houses more than 1000 red gates that form a long tunnel. Fushimi Inari Shrine (or Fushimi Inari Taisha) is one of the most beautiful Shinto shrines in Japan. He is dedicated to the rice god Inari. If you are looking for Japan on the Internet then you will surely come across photos of red gates and foxes. The torii tunnels of Fushimi are therefore the tourist highlight of the shrine complex.
The torii are situated along paths that lead from the main shrine to three side shrines on the top of Inari Mountain (233m high). These are offerings of believers who hope for a special service (usually business success) from the deity Inari. Most are donated by companies. In addition to the torii, the Fushimi Inari shrine also offers a lot of picturesque fox guards. Another special feature is the stone altars (o-tsuka), which are found along the paths. The Fushimi Inari shrine provides a vivid example of the widespread tendency in Japan to turn the sheer mass of votive offerings into a kind of Gesamtkunstwerk in honor of a specific deity.
Sightseeing district – Arashiyama
Arashiyama is a sightseeing district in the western outskirts of Kyoto. It’s one of Kyoto’s busiest tourist areas. It’s a bit further away from the center of Kyoto. If you want to visit this district you can go by train, bus or taxi. Another sporty alternative would be renting a bicycle. Arashiyama is particularly popular during the fall color seasons. So Brian and I were in the right place at the right time. The Togetsu-kyo Bridge is Arashiyama’s famous, central landmark and the heart of Arashiyama. Many small shops, restaurants and other attractions are found nearby. It’s also filled with temples, Japanese gardens, shrines and little boats that are available for rent on the river. You can also find Tenryuji Temple which is a World Cultural Heritage Site in Arashiyama and Sagano. Another must-see in Arashiyama is the famous Monkey Park Iwatayama with its wonderful atmosphere.
Monkeys as far as the eyes reache – Monkey Park Iwatayama
Iwatayama Monkey Park is a commercial park located in Arashiyama. I really wanted to see this place, especially because of the monkeys. It boasts about 120 snow monkeys which are also called „Japanese macaque“. They are native to Japan and yes, these are the type of monkeys seen in iconic photos in which they’re bathing at hot springs in winter. The viewpoint is really impressive and as well the view over Kyoto rewarded after an exhausting steep climb (about 150 meters in altitude). Once you have arrived on the platform you will notice that in addition to tourists there are many monkeys who populate this place. Logically lured by feedings of the rangers and tourists who have the opportunity to buy and offer nuts through the safety of an enclosed area.The wild monkeys from the surrounding hills come here during the day to eat their fill. They grab the food right out of your hand as they hang on the outside of the caged-in window area. Great entertainment, especially for Brian who was almost attacked by a monkey. Well he provoked it too. The monkeys are still wild, the park assures. The „don’t stare“ and „don’t touch“ warnings should be followed. A visit will take about 1-2 hours and the tickets for adults are 550 yen (5 Swiss francs).
I have summarized for you the 6 most important rules that you should stick to when you visit the Monkey Park:
- As I metioned, do not stare into the eyes of the monkeys – this also applies to the camera lens.
- Do not touch the monkeys.
- Always stand and do not squat in front of the monkeys
- Do not feed the monkeys outside the designated area.
- No pictures during the ascent and descent. I must confess I did it. But I have not seen monkeys. I just photographed the nature.
- Do not approach the monkey closer than three feed, a difficult rule to follow.But as it is with rules and tourists, especially tourists like Brian and me, you hear a monkey sniffing every few minutes because someone thought the rules are there just for fun – as well as the long and sharp teeth of the monkeys ;-).
Have you already read my last blogpost about Kyoto?