Day 15 started off hilariously. Around 10 am when I was attempting to get out of bed (10 is early for me) Juna returned from having a shower. Although I noticed something weird, her towel was still in our room. It transpires she forgot her towel and after washing her hair just stood behind the shower curtain ‘drip-drying’. Even funnier considering the hostel shower is behind a curtain in the garden.
After a good laugh at the sanity we’ve already lost through just two weeks of traveling we visited the temple we having been staying next too. As we were eating our breakfast looking across the temple grounds a guy who arrived at our hostel last night recognised us and came over.
His name was Nerman, from Mexico and had just finished a 6 week internship in Tokyo and is now traveling around Japan for 3 weeks before heading back to Mexico. He asked if he could tag along for the day which of course we said yes. After half an hour we realised that what he should of asked was if we wanted to come with him to all the sights he wanted to see. But in the end it made a nice change for someone else to navigate and he wanted to see a lot of similar things to us.
We first got on the train and headed to Fushimi Inari Taisha, the most famous shrine in Kyoto. The main large shrine is at the base of a mountain. With many smaller ones along the way and at the top of the mountain. Due to Mt. Fuji I feel like I’ve done enough mountain climbing to last a life time and especially my time here in Japan. But the other two wanted to go up, and owing to our new member I was outnumbered and had to climb another mountain.
Leading up to the top are 2000 red gates, each one donated by a business. It was brilliant as they were both beautiful and provided shade. This beauty didn’t last long as the heat and steep climb started to get to me and Juna. Although as pale as us, Nerman is used to the heat of Mexico and found it no problem, even donating his fan to me so I could go a more pale shade of beetroot.
After an hour and a lot of water we reached the top. All the shrines we saw were beautiful and individual in some way. In particular, my favourite shrine was a zodiac one, which featured hand-carved statutes of each zodiac sign.
After recovering from the walk we headed for the bus. On the buses here the drivers wear microphones which get played out through speakers on the bus. They continually speak to you about the traffic and every time you get going from a red light. But our driver today wasn’t very happy and kept having road rage. It was very handy having Nerman with us as he is fluent in Japanese as well as English.
Our chosen destination was the Path of Philosophy, made famous by Nishida Kitaro, a Japanese philosopher who used the journey along the path everyday to meditate on his way to teach at Kyoto university. On our way we popped in to a convenience store for some food. The first thing I saw when the doors opened was a women dressed up, head to toe, as a Geisha fulfilling all her photocopying needs in the corner. Another very odd sight but one I have come to expect after being in Japan for a couple of weeks.
As we made our way up to the Path of Philosophy standing at a cross roads was a man on a motorbike the other side who started madly pointing at us and shouting. At first confused, we realised we were being idiots. Unlike the other crossings in Japan you have to press a button here, he was just helping us find the button. After finally sheepishly crossing the road and thanking him we got to the path.
Once again it was another beautiful, peaceful part of Kyoto just metres from the main city. We wandered slowly along the riverside path with Nerman giving us recommendations on places to visit when we return to Tokyo. I’m not sure if you are meant to have an epiphany or inspiring thoughts as you stroll along the Path of Philosophy, but my main thought was to take an antihistamine as there were about 50 cats roaming the path from the nearby cat sanctuary.