Japan: Fushimi Inari-Taisha

After checking out of the ryokan, we immediately made our way to Fushimi Inari-Taisha:

Known for its bright orange tori gates, Fushimi Inari-Taisha is very popular with tourists.  We arrived a little too late to truly escape the crowds, but early enough to avoid the worst of the crush.

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.



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