Sake and temples and shrines, oh my!

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November 25th 2018
Published: December 5th 2018
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I cant believe it's been a week since we arrived already where does the time go?? Anyway, as usual we have a full day of sightseeing planned and this time we are heading to South Kyoto. First on the itinerary is the Tofuku-ji temple, which is meant to be renowned for it's stunning temple and landscaped gardens, especially in Spring and Autumn. After a quick pit stop at the 7-11 for our usual breakfast of steamed pork buns and rice balls (the obvious breakfast choice for the discerning western traveller), we decide to walk back to the Gion district so we can get some pictures of the area in daylight. It's a good 25 minute walk and the sun has came out, so we are absolutely roasting hot. I've decided to wear my big boots again and to say my feet are sweating already is an understatement. Greg then tells me he needs to buy socks (seriously I think his feet eat them) so we have to make a detour to H&M to buy some more. Back on track, we arrive in the Gion distrcit which looks really different during the day. To be honest it actually looks better at night… still, at least we're next to a train line which will take us directly to the temple.

Tofuku-ji temple is just as impressive as we expected, and there are about a million photo opportunities with the colourful autumn leaves as a backdrop. But it is jam packed too so it takes ages to walk around all the while being barged around by other (need I say it mostly Chinese) tourists. Once we've finished we stop off for an early lunch and end up in a delicious chinese restaurant (what was I just saying... I take it all back). Just as we are leaving, Greg starts talking in some weird code to a guy sitting near us until I clock on that it's a fellow Japanese wrestling fan, and he's using some sort of wrestling code. The guy responds back with some more wrestling code words and Greg is totally made up. He tells me to include it in the blog, so here it is!

We continue south by walking to Fushimini inari shrine, which is an area filled with large, orange torri gates adorning a huge walkway that spans 4km (Although we don't know it's a 4km walk up a steep hill when we first start!). The torii gates and shinto shrines adorning the pathway are amazing, and seem to go on forever. Even though I had read that you should leave a good 2 - 3 hours to walk up and back, we are both hugely disappointed when we stop after 30 minutes thinking we have climbed loads only to realise we are only halfway up the mountain! Being the determined buggers we are, we continue on to the top of Mount Unari and almost kill ourselves in the process - well it is a 223 metre steep climb. We are sweating by the time we reach the top, and are gutted to find out there are no views overlooking Kyoto from here, just another shrine and that's about it. Oh well, we still feel proud of our achievement and are also thinking the calories we've worked off means we can definitely afford to drink a beer or two tonight…

It takes another 30 minutes or so to get back down the hill, so it's taken about 1 ½ hours for us in total, not bad going! Its only a short walk (thankfully!) to get to the train station which will take us to our next destination, the fushimi sake district. Greg has never tasted sake before so if you're ever going to try this is definitely the time! We jump on the first train that arrives but automatically realise its the wrong one as soon as the doors close. We've jumped on the limited express train which only stops at certain stops, and i'm pretty sure the one we want isn't one of them. We opt to get off at the next stop and double back on ourselves but the train doesn't stop for about 12 minutes solid which is slightly worrying, as our original destination was only 2 stops and about 5 minutes away. Still its not the end of the world. In the end we're only 2 stops south of where we wanted to be originally, and the next train comes within 10 minutes so crisis averted. We really are getting pretty good at this travelling malarky (thankfully!).

The sake museum isn't too difficult to find and our entrance fee rewards us with two mini bottles of sake which is cool. The ticket guy asks us where we are from and when we say Scotland he is really impressed telling us how far, far away we are lol. I'm a little disappointed at how small the museum is though. Although it is very informative, we are literally finished within 10 minutes after we arriving. We do get the bonus of trying two sakes at the end of the 'tour' and a plum wine which is delicious and tastes like christmas pudding. Greg quite enjoys his sake and suggests we do a jack and victor and head round again for another free sample which is tempting... We settle for buying ourselves a bottle of plum wine (which will probably sit in a cupboard never to see the light of day again but never mind) and some cute porclein sake glasses.

I'm feeling rather ravenous now after all our walking (the fitbit confirms we've already clocked up 10.5 miles by this point) and i'm starting to get hangry (a dangerous place to be) so we go in search of some food and beer (definitely in that order today). We clock a little cafe doing some chicken pitta wraps which look good but the only downside is they don't sell beer. But at this point food wins and so we decide to eat first and foremost. After eating we make the decision to just head back to our hotel and have a drink there, as we both fear if we sit down for any longer then we are going to seize up and will need some WD40 to get moving again. Thankfully greg's ankle is a lot better (just as well after our hefty climb and 10 mile walk) but we don't want to risk it getting any more stiff, so we head back to the train station.

Another 15 minute walk from the train station and we finally arrive back at the hotel. No wonder I am sleeping so well with all this exercise! (although beer does seem to be helping too lol). We relax with a few Asahi beers as usual, our wee pre-dinner routine, and then head out in search of some grub.

Straight away we both spot a little restaurant with fragrant smoke spilling out from it's roof chimney which smells amazing and we decide we don't need to walk any further. Inside the smell of charcoal meat on a BBQ is so good that my mouth is already salivating. We decide to have a selection of grilled yakatori skewers (including pork tenderloin with wasabi paste which is amazing) and a lovely bowl of hotpot with chicken meatballs. The food is absolutely incredible. On the way back to the hotel we are really craving something sweet, so stop off for a white snickers bar which we had spotted earlier on today and had been hankering after…


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