Fushimi Inari Shrine-Kyoto, Japan

If I were to pick my top three sites we’ve seen in our travels, the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto Japan would definitely make the list  So much so, we decided to visit a second time! 

fushimi inari shrine, kyoto japanQuick history lesson: It is a shinto shrine put in place in order to worship the God Inari, the God of Rice. Foxes are said to be its messengers which is why several fox statues can be seen along the trail. The large orange gateways are called toriis and there are thousands of them along the two hour trail. All of them are donations from individuals and businesses. Prices for the smaller ones start at around 5,000 us dollars while the larger ones start at around 13,000 us dollars.
map at fushimi inari shrine, kyoto japan

Lucky for us, it was much better weather this time around and we enjoyed hiking up into the mountain through the endless maze of toriis. We left extra early in the morning (we were there around 8am) to beat the crowds that are found so often here. But as you go deeper into the woods, the crowds thin out and you can truly appreciate the serenity of this place. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

fushimi inari shrine, kyoto japantunnel of toriis at fushimi inari shrine, kyoto japanfushimi inari shrine, kyoto japanexploring fushimi inari shrine, kyoto japanhike into the woods at fushimi inari shrine, kyoto japan

Looking for Geishas in Gion, Kyoto

geishas in kyoto, japan

When we returned to Kyoto for the second time we knew that we also had to return to the neighborhood of Gion, which is said to be one of the last areas of Japan where geishas are still at work in teahouses. Unfortunately, the last time we were there, we were unable to see any geishas for ourselves but nonetheless, the streets are a gorgeous mix of old and new that we loved to wander around.

After wandering around the streets for awhile, we started to wonder if geishas were real at all or if we were on the hunt for an imagined animal. At least we weren’t alone. I’m pretty sure all the other foreigners walking anxiously down the street that night with cameras ready in hand were looking for the same thing.

teahouses in gion, kyoto
Luckily for us, the second time around we were more than lucky. It seemed like we had arrived to the area at just the right time because we saw three geishas in a row scurrying off to different tea houses (one walking alone and two others with escorts on either side). As silly as I felt for making such a big deal out of it, my jaw literally dropped when I saw them. I can’t imagine how annoying it would be if I were her, all these tourists out and about just wanting to grab a picture of her. I don’t blame her for walking as fast as she did into the safety of the teahouse! Thankfully right after I snatched a picture of her back. I’ll be honest, all I know about geishas has come from Wikipedia and the book, Memoirs of a Geisha (which I highly recommend). But I always get so giddy when there is something that I have read or learned about and I get to actually see it in person. 
gion kyoto teahouses

If you want to feel like you’ve stepped back in time, grab a cup of coffee and stroll through the side streets of Gion. There’s a peace about this area as the streets are illuminated by lanterns sitting on the ground outside the teahouses, lit up, just waiting for customers. Even if you don’t spot a geisha, it’s still a beautiful area to wander.