We had a great first day in Kyoto exploring the majestic Fushimi-Inari Taisha in the southern part of town.
Like most of the temples we visited, the streets leading up to the shrine were lined with shops and food vendors. We saw quite a few chopstick stores and lots of dried fruit for sale.
The shrine is for Inari, the god of rice, sake, and prosperity.
Thousands of stone foxes surround the shrine and the statues almost all have something symbolic in their mouths. I wish I could tell you why all the foxes were there, but my guidebook didn't provide an explanation.
10,000 laquered gates lead up the mountain.
It was absolutely stunning.
Because Inari is the god of prosperity, local businesses pay for the 10,000 gates. We thought the writing on the gates was beautiful, but it probably said "Wal-Mart" and "T-Mobile" all over them for all we know.
We knew it was supposed to be a trek up to the top, but that didn't make it any less tiring!
Throughout the hike there are places to buy drinks, food, and most importantly ice cream! In typical Japanese fashion there are also plenty of clean bathrooms.
At the top there was no view but plenty of quiet and a place to worship.
At the half-way point there is a beautiful view of Kyoto that we admired much more on the downhill than when we were huffing and puffing on the way up.
In the evening we strolled through an indoor shopping arcade complete with tacky faux-American clothes as well as beautiful handmade things and vintage books (like the one from 1764 above).
The shopping arcade lead to Nishiki Market, a big food emporium in Kyoto that services tourists and locals.
Per usual, we didn't know what most of the food was, and what we could recognize was occasionally frightening.
We had a great time walking around, and I enjoyed a lovely fried potato, carrot, and pumpkin lollipop. Afterwards we had big bowls of ramen for dinner to finish our first full day in Kyoto.