26 July 2014, Saturday, Cloudy, 25ºC – 38ºC
Our third and last day in Kyoto. We woke up early, excited about what we are going to accomplish today! For the last 2 days, we had been taking it really easy on sightseeing and shopping, for the sake of our sleep-deprived bodies, also taking into account of Baby E’s wellbeing.
J and I have always loved treading on foreign streets in the cool early morning, when it is still quiet. There is something in the early mornings that draw us to cherish the moments we spend in it as the day dawns. Maybe it is the sunrise, or the cool air, or very simply how we could witness the first lights that penetrate and illuminate our world of darkness.
We walked from Hiiragiya to Sanjo station at 6.00 am. It was already very bright and sunny since sunrise was before 5.00 am in Kyoto.
We were a little taken aback when we saw how narrow the platforms are in Sanjo station. Our pram is just the right size as the width of the platform, if it be any bigger, it will be crossing the yellow line! We wondered how do people cope during peak hours since Sanjo station is one of the busiest stations in Kyoto!
Baby E was still sleepy and her fever had creeped back a little since morning, so that was her clinging onto me like a koala bear… Awww… I feel so loved and needed by my little baby, that feeling puts me on top of the world!
Six stops was all it took for us to reach Fushimi-Inari from Sanjo. The station was easy to recognize as it takes on the facade of the Fushimi-Inari Shrine.
Fabled for its multitudinous vermillion torii gates that straddle a network of trails leading into the wooded forest of Mt Inari, we agreed this is a must-see in our itinerary.
There must have been thousands of these vermillion torii gates that line the paths of the hiking trails. Very quickly, we approached the Senbon Torii, which consists of 2 very dense infinite rows of the bright orange gates that stood side by side.
The gates along the trail were donated by individuals and companies, and we saw the donors’ name and date of donation inscribed on the back of each gate.
We walked on, and the trail started to curve…
… till we emerged from the covered trail… relieved to be out in the open again.
We carried on walking, and the terrain changes to steps that are non-friendly to prams or wheelchairs. Well, let’s just say that J had a really good workout this morning! ;p
As we have booked our breakfast to be served at 9:00 am, we hurried through the trails and took a shortcut back to the main building, where we caught a cab to go visit Kiyomizudera Temple.
A UNESCO World Heritage site since 1994, the architecturally-stunning Kiyomizudera temple is one of the most popular temples of Japan. Founded in AD 780, this temple has a long history and is definitely worth the visit.
It was a clear cloudless morning, the view of the much-photographed platform of the temple is truly impressive. Perched on the side of a cliff, the platform is solely supported by wooden stilts, without the use of any metal pieces or nails. Visitors to this temple can enjoy a panoramic view of the city from this lookout point.
Unlike the Fushimi-Inari Shrine, which is not pram-friendly, the walkways of Kiyomizudera Temple is entirely accessible to prams and wheelchairs. It was a breeze strolling through the compounds as we admire the summer foliage.
Another interesting aspect of visiting Kiyomizudera Temple is the ascent towards it via the Higashimaya District. Lined by parallel rows of shops, cafés and restaurants on both sides of the narrow stone-paved street, it is one of Kyoto’s best preserved historic districts. The traditional wooden buildings and beautifully restored merchant shops invoke a nostalgic feeling of the old capital city. The streets of Higashiyama is a great place to experience traditional old Kyoto! Unfortunately, it was too early in the morning, most shops were still not opened for the day.
These steps down towards Sannen-zaka and Ninen-zaka proved too tedious for us to venture, it was also time for us to return to Hiiragiya. We caught a cab back and arrived just in time for breakfast. Eri was already waiting for us at the foyer!
We enjoyed our breakfast and took time to rest and relax in the ryokan till it’s time to check out, and travel to Osaka later!