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Fushimi Inari Shrine Rainy Day Trek

Updated on January 7, 2018
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Japanophile Yong survived 10 solo trips to Japan. His visits now focus on discovering the country’s lesser known attractions.

Rain. What most websites do not warn you about when promoting cherry blossom viewing in Japan. Out of the seven days I was in Japan, it rained on five days. Already, I had rescheduled my visit to Fushimi Inari Shrine twice. Any more shifting, I would have to forgo other Kyoto sites. I would have to change my train reservations.

I decided to brave it. The sky looked really bad, but perhaps it would stay overcast. Or at worst, drizzle for an hour or two. No such luck. I arrived at Fushimi station in the midst of a huge downpour. The station was so choked full of soaked tourists seeking shelter, I could barely make my way out of it. After much effort, I finally succeeded in elbowing my way out of the crowd and to a convenience store. One directly facing the famed shrine. There, I spent the next half an hour gazing forlornly at Fushimi Inari. Torn between returning to Kyoto. Or to ignore the downpour and weather on.

I chose the latter. The poncho I had wouldn't help, it was be like standing under a waterfall in that sort of deluge, so I bought a 500 yen cheap umbrella from the store. With that tightly grasped, I trudged my way towards the shrine. Would you believe it? It started to let up a little from then onwards. The drizzle never did stop. Everywhere remained wet and slippery. But at least I managed to stand at the main complex, offered my coins and clap my hands. I also managed a few shots with my handphone, which after heavy photoshopping, didn't turn out too disappointing.

Main complex of Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto. Constant flow of worshippers despite the rain.
Main complex of Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto. Constant flow of worshippers despite the rain. | Source
The front stage. Think Noh performances and Kagura dances.
The front stage. Think Noh performances and Kagura dances. | Source
Drenched torii offerings.
Drenched torii offerings. | Source
The dense torii path offers little shelter.
The dense torii path offers little shelter. | Source

The famous torii tunnels of Fushimi Inari

The main shrine done, I continued to the star attraction of the Fushimi Inari shrine. The world-famous torii tunnel. I confess, I have this fantasy of sprinting down it, arms flapping, a hopeful geisha in the making. (Oh of course I WOULDN'T do that. But daydreaming is a joy?) Rats. Things turned gloomy again. The tunnels, of which there were several, were choked with traffic. Everybody was lumbering for it was slippery and muddy. You have to be on guard against careless umbrella ribs waved into your eyes too. And then there were those squeaky tourists who despite clutching umbrellas and souvenirs, still paused for numerous selfies. It took me well over ten minutes just to finish the first segment of the tunnel. I didn't quite manage to film the sort of dreamy, zooming through the toriis video, which I had been planning for days. What a disappointment.

I gave up after making two-thirds of the way up the hill. And it was the right decision for the rain worsened after that. On hindsight, months later, Fushimi Inari on a wet day was a pain, but it wasn't entirely a wasted trip. I managed to see and photograph most of what I wanted to. just not in the way I hoped for the pictures to be. If I were to get introspective, I could say this was an experience mirroring life; you go through it never quite in the way you plan it to be, and you learn to suck up everything along the way. That, and one other thing. One extra pair of socks is never, never enough when travelling during wet seasons. You need several. I bought a lot of socks at Don Quixote during this visit to Japan.

During a brief respite.
During a brief respite. | Source

Remember!

One extra pair of socks is never, never enough when travelling during wet seasons.

Click here to read part 2 of this double post!

© 2016 Kuan Leong Yong

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