I went to sleep yesterday night with great plans for today. The much awaited trip with the Foreign Students Society was suddenly not that interesting, as Divya called in sick. I was wondering if it’d be better to call it off and stay home. But somehow, it felt a bit too rude, and I went along with Saikat to Minami Kusatsu. The rest of the day was amazing and very happening day!
We met the FSS group at the station and was introduced to the members of the trip. It was nice to travel in a big group of 10-12 people after long. Our first stop was Fushimi Inari shrine. I had too many questions to the Japanese trip members, and it was adorable to see them Google out things they didn’t know, or use translators to provide me with all the answers. The ascent of Mt. Inari was not so much an effort with too many people to talk to and click photos with. I don’t remember the last time I got to talk to so many people at once! The Omokaru stone wouldn’t have been fun had they not explained the belief behind it. Nor would the thousand gates felt so special. As the belief goes, if you are able to assess the weight of the stone correctly before lifting it, it’s considered lucky. If the stone turns out to be lighter than you thought, your wish would come true; if heavier, better luck next time. And the Senbon Torii (thousand shrine gates) are offerings made by worshippers. The weather was pleasant, and the ambience was amazing. But again, it would have been much better if one could make it for the sunrise. The shrine gates and the surrounding forest gives the mountain a divine aura. All that said, I still did not climb the final lap of the mountain. One, I was pretty exhausted. Two, I was kind of trying to keep something unexplored for the second visit with Divya. After spending some time at the view point, we started walking downhill, to our next pitstop for lunch. We took a different route than the one we took uphill. At one point, it seemed we were lost, but that wasn’t really concern to me. I was walking with people who knew Japanese and English! They could talk to me and make the time enjoyable. So could they find the way out of this place for us!
After a really long walk, we reached a nearby station on the Keihan line. We took a brief stop for lunch (read French fries for me) and started on the next train to Uji. The Byodoin temple, the one on the ten yen coin, was a beautiful place. We couldn’t make it to the Phoenix Hall, but again, it was a nice place to be around. It felt like any other shrine in Japan, though each of them has a different story to say. The Phoenix was an eye-catcher on the top of the shrine, so was the Buddha on cloud series in the museum nearby. Uji is famous for its Matcha. But again, I was not tempted enough. Tasting the ice cream Saikat got, I was convinced not to try it again. (Disclaimer: Food preference is very personal! I have heard amazing comments about Matcha – green tea, as a matter of fact.) The Ujigawa – the river Uji – was far more beautiful than the shrine premise. The flowing river and the mountain range was captivating. If you ask me, the bridge and the river are the sights where one must spend more time on.
We were all pretty exhausted by the time we took a train back to Gion in Kyoto. But when we changed lines in between, I had a total lift in my mood as we got into a double decker train! I quite didn’t know there were functional double deckers in India. But again, they wouldn’t be anything like the one I saw here! It was a short journey to Gion, yet amazing. From Gion station, we walked to the famous Yasaka shrine. (more on JaDa – Day 40) After a quick tour around the premise, we walked to the Yasaka tower. Somehow, that was the happiest sight of the day for me. I have been meaning to see the multi-layered shrine building, ever since the idea of the Japan trip began to sink in. And it was indeed a sight to watch. Not to mention the macho with the Jinrikisha. And the Japanese friend I made who told me about the cart pulled by men, to carry around passengers – the Jinrikisha. And all the new friends from the FSS family. As we bid bye for the day, I was left with a handful memories of an eventful trip.
After a routine visit to Jupiter at Kyoto for some ready-to-eat MTR, Saikat and me hopped on the next train headed home.