Part two of our long day in Kyoto: visiting Fushimi Inari shrine, exploring Kyoto at night, a great meal, and a mysterious cat…
After our adventures with the Toji temple and the
handicraft center tourist trap downtown, we decided to take the bus to Fushimi Inari shrine, a place I have long wanted to see. Finding the right bus was a bit of a challenge, because on the bus stop chart there is bus number “5″ and then there is “special 5.” We learned that you want the special 5 if you are going to Fushimi Inari.
A short walk from the bus station took us across some train tracks towards the shrine area. The light looked promising for photography.
Despite having been in Kyoto twice, I had never gotten over to see Fushimi Inari. I now realize that was a major oversight.
The experience of walking up Fushimi Inari’s gentle slopes is something I will never forget. It’s just one of those rare places on earth that you just know is special when you get there. You just feel it.
If it weren’t for the formidable mosquitoes, we felt as if we could have walked forever. I certainly could have shot photos for hours. Every time you turn around, you see Fushimi Inari a new way.
The way up the mountain is long and we would have probably made the entire walk, but the mosquitoes were coming in full force and we turned back. (Probably a good thing, as it was getting dark anyway.)
As usual, I got bites but I was fine after a few hours. Teresa, on the other hand, has an ability to both attract an unusual number of mosquito bites and to react absolutely horribly to them. These bites were particularly bad and resulted in blisters for her. And we always somehow fail to remember to bring repellent with us on these trips. Maybe next time.
On the way out, we were greeted by a mysterious black cat, who appeared out of nowhere.
After taking all of that in, we were definitely ready for a good meal. We swung around back to the massive Kyoto station to grab another bus downtown. The 1-day bus pass pays for itself again!
Exploring Kyoto at night is one of my favorite things. The streets of Kyoto are safe, clean, and full of life. It’s a fun place to walk around, especially around the river and Pontocho area. We spent some time eople watching and and finding little moments in the night.
After a bit of walking, we made our way to Issian, a grilled meat restaurant in Pontocho.
Issian specializes in grilled meat and vegetables. It’s perfect for couples because you can sit and eat as your chef cooks for you on your little stone. It’s very intimate, and the whole place only seats 12 people or so.
The menu is sort of determined by the chef once you pick a course, but you can omit certain things if you do not like them. The menu has some pretty interesting items on it, such as chicken neck and hearts. Plenty of tamer fare as well.
We ended up with shrimp, meatballs, vegetables, and a good number of various chicken pieces and parts. All fantastic and high quality. The hot stone gave everything a beautiful brown sear.
You also get cabbage and different dipping / sauce options. The chef advised when to use salt, soy or yuzu for each item. It was a very good meal.
There are definitely tourists coming in here because it’s listed in the top few restaurants for Kyoto on Tripadvisor, so it’s not a “hidden gem” by any means. We saw a mix of tourists and Japanese diners. Still, it’s fantastic by any standard and I would recommend it to anyone. In fact, I am doing so right now.
Well, you can’t go out on a date night in Japan and not hit up the arcade. I was able to win Teresa another item at the Namco Wonder Tower for her rapidly growing collection of cuties. It was a machine with the toys hanging from threads inside. You have to manipulate a razor blade to try and cut the string of the toy you want. Amazingly, I cut the rope on the first try. (Future attempts would not go so well.)
That’s the end of our long day in Kyoto. We definitely made good use of our bus pass and saw a lot of Kyoto in just one day. We were really happy with our short time here but also looked forward to leaving for Tokyo, already on the schedule for tomorrow.
This would be our second time to Tokyo. Our first visit to Japan’s largest city a few years ago had been fantastic, and expectations were high for the return trip.
They were exceeded.
178-3 Zaimokucho, Higashikiyacho Sanjo Kudaru, Nakagyo-ku
Pontocho Hidaka Building 1F, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 604-8017, Japan