Pre-tourist torii

January 24th, 2014, 8am

With pre-coffee Christine.

It was early. Way too early. Downside of taking the overnight bus is you don’t really have control over what time they decide to let you off at your stop.

6:30 a.m., Kyoto.

I barely slept on the bus anyway, too traumatized from my Osaka–Tokyo trip that I had meds and a lot of water ready. You know, just in case my tummy decides it doesn’t like pizza either. (It did though, I was so thankful for a boring bus ride.)

I sleepily shoved my luggage into the biggest locker at the station. I might have had to force it in, because there was no way I was bringing that up Fushimi Inari.

Ahhh. Fushimi Inari. The last time I was here was seven years ago; a quick walk around with my Travel Club. Still remember being mesmerized by all the torii and promised to be back someday. In fact, I did the whole Kyoto detour just to see this place again.

Downside of traveling alone while sleepy: I might have hopped on the wrong train twice — don’t tell Rolf that I spent an extra ¥500. At seven in the morning all trains look the same, especially when you’re trying to navigate without caffeine. (Also explains why it took me an extra hour to get here.)

Best part about being too early is having the place all to yourself. Think I’d get the chance to snap a photo like this at 2 p.m.? No way.

I wasn’t completely alone though. As I got near the section where the path splits in two, I saw a small group of elderly Japanese men. (You see them in the photo… Ah, photobombed from so far away!) So cute. They were laughing and pointing at the torii. I couldn’t understand them, but imagined they were probably businessmen planning on building one too. (”And our torii will look exactly like… this!”)

Before I could get past them, one had set up a tiny tripod and they all huddled around to get a photo. I wanted to offer to take it, but felt it was too early to start the confusing smile - bow - no I don’t speak Japanese dance. So we exchanged giggles (!!! Yes we did!) and tiny bows as I waited for them to be done with the photo before I politely nodded and went my merry way.

Pro Completely amateur tip: a can of vending machine coffee can double as caffeine and a hand warmer. I was freezing my socks off so I decided to get some coffee… bad idea. Good idea for my hands, but a bad source of caffeine. It was horrible. (Or did I get the wrong brand?!)

I finally get to the start of the trail. From this point: 2 hours.

Yeeaaahhh… maybe not. I turn around and head back to the station. Before I exit the last torii, I turn and do a goodbye bow. I’ll be back, I think. I promise. Time to head back to Osaka, get some real coffee, and maybe, some sleep.

June, Paul, abn, Adrian and 18 others said thanks.

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Christine Herrin

Designer. History major. Memory keeper, paper hoarder, frequent flyer.

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