We woke up around 6, did a little tweeting and headed to the station to drop our luggage in a coin locker. The previous day we saw that in the middle of the day every single coin locker is taken up, so we were a little worried about how soon they fill up. Turns out that early in the morning they’re all empty so we had our choice of what locker we wanted.
After dropping off our luggage we headed off to the Fushimi Inari shrine. I had no idea what the Inari shrine was, just that it had the Inari cat statues. Anna had asked around the tourist office how long it takes to go through and they estimated it would take 1-2 hours. When we got there, I quickly realized it was the place with the hundreds if not thousands of Torii gates that you see so much in movies.
Because of the size, stairs and also how pretty it is, Fushimi Inari shrine is popular for people exercising in the morning. We saw several joggers and some high school students. My left knee still hurt from the Shiratani Unsuikyo trip but I still went for it. The first section was no problem but later there were quite a few stairs.
Anna was tired because she doesn’t like climbing stairs, but I was doing ok even though my knee really hurt. I toughed out out though, and I’m glad I did because it really was one of the most visually striking things I saw in Japan. I figured out a system where if I walked with one foot on the steps and the other on the incline next to the stairs I could climb and keep the stress on my bad knee to a minimum.
Also after Jomon-sugi I felt like I could climb anything despite my injured knee. We smiled at each other whenever we saw young people climbing with one or two walking sticks because this was seriously nothing compared to Yakushima. For a trail in Yakushima walking sticks make a lot of sense, but for a bunch of stairs? I wish my knee didn’t hurt, otherwise I would’ve done a lot of running through the gates like you always see in movies shot there.
Next we headed back to Kyoto to get the bus to the Golden Pavilion. We were worried about how crowded it would be. It was crowded but not as bad as I thought it would be. I remembered hearing that the Golden Pavilion could only be seen from one angle and that people are packed in like sardines. But it turned out it was nothing like that at all. There was plenty of room to walk around and you can get pretty close to it.
The Golden Pavilion wasn’t as tacky as I thought it would be. Whenever you see it on postcards and stuff it’s a over saturated very gawdy and yellowy gold. The thing about the Pavilion is that once you see it, you’ve seen it. This was one of the most touristy places we went to, but I’m glad that I don’t feel the need to ever go again. After we took our photos there wasn’t much more to do. We ended up taking more photos of the red foliage.
Oh, and the bathroom there was easily the worst bathroom I used during our entire trip. It had a really bad pee smell, it felt dirty and there wasn’t any toilet paper. There was a toilet paper vending machine at the entrance, but thankfully I didn’t need it. Even the vending machine looked dirty.
We finished that trip pretty quickly and headed back to Kyoto station. For our trip to Shizuoka we bought an ekibento and another Seven-Eleven onigiri so that we could take photos of how this amazing rice ball technology keeps the seaweed crispy until it’s ready to be eaten.
When we got to Shizuoka we dropped our luggage off at another coin locker and had to go one more stop to the Gundam. When we got there we could already see it through the windows in the distance! I’ve only seen the Gundam movies so I’m not a fan like Anna, but I do love me some giant robots so of course it was still amazing to see.
Of course I wish I could’ve touched it, but obviously they wouldn’t allow that. I was surprised that there was no admission fee. It seemed like a no brainer to at least charge a little something to get in. I wasn’t complaining though. We got our photo taken with the Gundam and then spent probably the next hour taking photos from every single possible angle.
By the time we finished it was already getting dark and the spotlights were turned on. Also, the Gundam’s eyes were turned on and some of the lights on the body were on too. I just wish I could’ve seen it with its saber illuminated. We did spend quite a while there especially considering there wasn’t much to do. It was just so pretty and looked very well made with cool shiny materials. Also, every single section was covered in caution signs which seemed like a nice touch.
After we finished it was starting to get late so we headed back to the station to go back to Tokyo. I was pretty tired because this was definitely a very packed day with a lot of sightseeing and travel. When we got back to Tokyo we were so tired that we picked up some instant ramen at the Seven-Eleven by Anna’s brother’s apartment.
I messed up the preparation a bit because I put ingredients in the wrong order and also forgot to time how long the noodles were soaking in the water for. It was still very good! In fact I’d say the broth flavor was even better than some very average ramen that I’ve had in NYC. I’m not sure what the nutrition value is like compared, but it was definitely very tasty. We made sure to buy more before we left.