We continued up the mountain where most others turned back and soon we were walking through tori gates with nary another person in sight:
Originally I thought we would come down the mountain and end up where we began. Instead, we somehow ended up wandering through a seemingly residential area.
Suddenly, CK slammed to a stop. She spotted a sign for amazake pointing down a random alley and she needed to check it out now!:
I had never heard of amazake, but I was more than willing to follow CK down the rabbit hole. The alley was a short one and ended in a cutest little building with seating areas set up outside:
Seeing nobody around, we rang the doorbell. An elderly lady emerged from within the building wearing a sweet, welcoming smile. She didn't speak much English, but we were able to convey to her that we would like to try a cup of amazake, cold, please.
The glass of amazake came with a small spoonful of grated ginger (to be stirred in) and two cups of matcha (you just can't escape the stuff in Kyoto):
Think sake but sweeter, thicker, and less alcoholic...with a tiny punch of ginger. Slightly sweaty from our walk up and down the mountain, the amazake was the perfect refreshing conclusion to our pseudo-hike.
I can't tell you the exact directions to this charming amazake oasis, but keep your eyes peeled on your way down. A cold amazake costs 400 yen ($4), while a hot one costs 350 yen ($3.50). If I could go back in time, I would order one of each just to try them both.
Back at the main entrance of Fushimi Inari-Taisha, CK spotted a bunch of food vendors lining a side street:
She couldn't help but veer toward the yakidango stall:
I left her in line while I went to the bathroom. By the time I got back, she'd already bought a stick and started munching on it:
I'm not a huge fan of the grilled rice flour balls, so I let CK enjoy her dango in peace.
There were a lot of other stalls, but we after our bountiful breakfast at the ryokan, we couldn't drum up much interest. That is, until we came across this sweet potato fries man:
The fries, thick-cut and tossed in sugar, were so beautiful that we couldn't leave without a cup (400 yen or $4):
There's nothing better than freshly fried fries. Oh wait, yes there is: freshly fried sweet potato fries covered in sugar. Oooooh, yea.
If you can only go to one temple while in Kyoto, make it Fushimi Inari-Taisha. You won't regret it.