We opted to break our sightseeing in Kyoto into two trips – one from Tokyo and the other from Osaka. Tokyo was a far earlier start; a shinkansen from Shingawa Station takes about 2 hours, but gave us some very cool views of Mt Fuji on the way.
We didn’t have the chance to appreciate the grandeur of Kyoto Station until we returned later that afternoon. Rather, we jumped on the JR line to Inari to visit Fushimi Inari-Taisha, a shinto-shrine. We hopped off the train to absolute mobs of people, and in a bumper to bumper fashion we made our way up to the entrance.
The shrine is hillside and is comprised of a seemingly endless series of bright orange vermillion gates, which when bunched together (as they mostly are) essentially form a tunnel through which you can walk. The pathway stretches for a lengthy 4km, and the further you go, the less populated it becomes. It is a very memorable place, and we were constantly taking what we thought were pretty cool photos.
From here we jumped back on the JR line and headed out to the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. We followed the crowds from the station, and it basically led us right to the entrance of the grove. The forest of bamboo is truly stunning – the rows and rows of trunks together combine to create a very neat effect, and the leaves above give the whole place a magical touch. We ended up walking beyond the grove and around the area quite a bit further because it was very peaceful, quaint and beautiful.
Our last main stop for the day was Nishiki Market. It was in the midst of a shopping district, and is a vibrant, covered market with a range of different foodstuffs and other possible purchases. We had hoped to pick up some street food snacks, but actually didn’t come across anything that really took our fancy, although there was certainly an abundance of seafood.
We walked back to the train station passing the Higashi Hongan-ji temple on the way. Back at the station we got to appreciate the magnificence of Kyoto Station: we went all the way to the 15th floor (the Sky Garden Terrace) and walked the Sky Way; a glass corridor above the main station area. We saw some extensive views of the city, including that of the orange and white Kyoto tower.