Kyoto Day 2, a Konata adventure, and 30,000 torii gates
One of the things that I didn’t get to do in Kyoto last time I was here was head out to many of the wondrous locations that Kyoto is famous for. Day 2 of the Kyoto experience took us south towards Nara. So hit the jump to read on about my 2nd day in Kyoto.
Our day started off by heading from the ryokan to Kyoto JR station. I took the opportunity to take photos of Kyoto Tower and the main entrance of Kyoto JR Station. Our main destination was Nara as we wanted to head off to Nara Park, but there was one place I wanted to goto first before anything else. If any of you have watched Lucky Star you’ll know about Konata’s little trip to find Kyoto Animation and take a photo outside. Yep, I did exactly that.
Having done some research online, it was relatively easy to find the exact location. But if you can’t be bothered finding out here are the directions:
- Take the JR Nara Local service towards Nara (assuming your starting point is Kyoto JR Station).
- Get off at Kohata Station and when you exit the station, Kyoto Animation First Building is outside the station to the left.
- To get to the second building, from the exit of the station, turn right until you reach the end (which is only about 100m). Once at the end, turn left and follow the road until you see a brown building with a spiral staircase.
Of course me being the otaku that I am, and that there were exactly four of us here. I got all of us to pose just like they did in Lucky Star. Although my friends were reluctant at first, but I managed to con them into doing it in the end. Funnily enough as we were discussing who poses as who, one of the workers actually walked out of the building and realised what we were doing. I’m relatively sure he picked out that we were foreigners and he also directed us to the shop inside. Once inside we saw that they had a small range of merchandise available. In the end I picked up a CLANNAD postcard set.
It was pretty cool heading inside the building as you can see some of the promo posters hanging on the wall, but most of the inside is an actual office. As for the 2nd building, we couldn’t get to the third floor as it was blocked off. Not that I mind, but all that matters is that I finally got to see Kyoto Animation.
Hopping back onto the train, we headed once again towards Nara. Keep in mind we took the local service as the rapid doesn’t stop at Kohata, it took a good 30 minutes to reach Nara from Kohata. It was a good time to rest from heat. Upon arriving at Nara, we headed off to Nara Park. A reason I wanted to go here was that they had deers here that you can feed biscuits.
Having bought some biscuits, I had a go at feeding one deer. At first I thought they would be pretty tame, but oh no, they are quite vicious. Once you feed one, it tries to take the other ones in your hand. But the other thing is that if you feed one, 3 others will come up (assuming there are any close by). Though the one with large antlers are probably the worst. I notice that some of the deers bow their heads once they receive a biscuit, probably out of mannerism and to say thank you, but when the ones with antlers do it, they just end up hitting you.
One of the more funnier moments was feeding one deer but it kept following me. So I jumped over the fence and deep gutter thinking it wouldn’t follow me. The gap between the fence and gutter was pretty small, but it somehow managed to jump both and follow me. I got a friend of mine to distract it with his biscuits but after one biscuit, it simply attacked him by trying to snatch the biscuits from his hand. Even though he ran out, it kept following him. So be wary, those deers are vicious.
We started at one point of Nara Park and worked our way through some temples and shrines as the place certainly wasn’t short on any of them. There was also a museum with a collection of old Buddha statues and various other Japanese artifacts from many centuries ago. Of course no photographs are allowed in there. Continuing on through the pathway we came across a small lake with a great view and sat there for a few minutes to rest and absorb the scenery.
Moving on we came across another lake and a pagoda sitting over the lake. Later on we came across a small rest stop and I took the opportunity to eat some strawberry shaved ice. Shaved ice is the best thing to have when dealing with any kind of summer heat.
Eventually we came across another shrine, bought some fortunes, and started to head back to Nara station. We came to realise that we’ve only covered 40% of the park and that it was getting pretty late. Instead of walking back we took a bus, though we should’ve done that in the first place. Oh well. Hopping onto the train I still had one more place left on the day’s agenda to visit: Fushimi Inari Shrine.
I read up on this place thanks to reader Punynari as well as reading about it in the guide book. All I can say that this place is truly amazing. It’s awesome seeing a torii gate and all, but when you see a whole bunch (according to the guide book, there are 30,000 torii gates) that make a path is exciting. We got there just as an overcast was approaching and it was about 5pm. Walking through thousands of torii gates at night time has that eerie feeling where lights would only appear once every 10-20 torii gates. If anything I was hoping to see a wedding convey just like in ARIA.
According to the sign, it was estimated that the trip around the mountain would take about 4 hours. But alas since my feet took a beating due to improper shoes, I literally died at the last leg of the main stretch to reach the top of the mountain. I seriously at that point could not go on and decided to stop and rest as my friends continued the final leg of the journey. As I sat and waited for my friends to return, others came to the rest stop as well but realised how much of the mountain was left to climb, so they all turned around.
Eventually I came to sitting there by myself which in itself is kind of eerie (still kept thinking that foxes were going to wish me away, lol), but I at least got a good view of parts of Kyoto from the mountain. My friends eventually returned bearing souvenirs. They explained that at the top of the mountain is a small shrine where a guy would writ you name and date of when you conquered the Inari mountain. I do regret that I never made it to the top but next time I will. So for any of you readers who will be going to Fushimi-Inari shrine, make sure you reach the top.
Returning once again to the ryokan, and very much exhausted, we rested up before heading out to dinner. What was on the menu for that night was okonomiyaki. I knew of this okonomiyaki place near the ryokan before but never had the chance to try it out. This time I made sure to go. Though stupidly we each ordered an okonomiyaki and it was quite a bit to finish. Unfortunately I had a little bit left over from my share but damn was I full.
In the end it was quite an intensive day of traveling and walking. Still I can only blame myself for being so weak for dying before reaching the end of the Inari mountain (well I am a fat and lazy programmer, lol) but I do recommend people not to visit Nara Park and Fushimi-Inari shrine on the same day, unless you are fit for a lot of walking. Well at least I got a charm from the Inari shrine before they closed up. However at this point I don’t even remember what I bought nor do I remember where I’ve placed it. Next time I plan to conquer 30,000 torii gates!