What better way to start 2020 than with a nice warm saké as a welcome to Nijo Castle? Thanks, Kyoto!
Continuing our journey along the tourist trail of Kyoto, on New Year’s morning we stopped in at Nijojo, which was built in 1603 by the first shogun of the Edo period, became the imperial palace for a time in the 1800s, before being donated to the city as a historic site. I do love a castle with a moat.
Unfortunately, being the important New Year’s holiday, the Ninomaru Palace, which is usually open to the public, was closed, but we did have a lovely wander through gates and the gardens.
(The straw covers protect the trees in winter.)
We fed the carp.
And visited the old keep for a view over the city.
Blake enjoyed the old-fashioned photography.
On the hunt for saké brewers, we took a wander through the Fushimi saké district. Unfortunately, the breweries were closed for New Year’s (another activity for next time we’re in Japan!) but we had a lovely stroll along the canals. In spring and summer, boats ply the canals and the cherry blossoms in spring would be amazing!
On the street near the station, my saké and leek soup was warm and delicious. Phoebs is quite partial to the dango dumplings.
The red torii of the Fushimi Inari shrine are world-famous, so we couldn’t miss a visit here. And New Year’s Day at Inari, when so many worshippers visit to pray for good fortune for the coming year, was definitely an experience!
Phoebe loves foxes, and the fox (kitsune) is a sacred messenger in Inari shrines, often holding a key in its mouth (said to symbolise opening the rice granary).
Check out the crowd!
Heading up Inari Mountain behind the shrine, the famous torii gates line the path, creating a spectacular tunnel. We managed a few crowd-free shots of the classic red (vermillion?) torii.
And a rather special view over Kyoto. (Play sunlight shining through clouds music.)
Blake and I made it to the summit (a whopping 233m) while Phoebs and Steve ate ice-cream.
And down again.
The little shrines dotted across the mountain are beautiful. The red of the bibs is significant in Japan as a colour to ward off demons and illness.
We made it to the crossroads viewpoint just in time to catch the sunset.
And so while visiting Fushimi Inari in the peace and serenity of a quiet day would be wonderful (another reason to come back), the New Year’s Day revellers were equally exciting to witness. Thus, our day ended with us flowing with the crowd back to the station…