By happy accident, our Airbnb was only a 15 minute walk to Fushimi Inari, the most popular tourist destination in Japan. It was, of course, on our to-do list, but having it so close made it easy to arrive before the crowds took over. This shrine gets ridiculously crowded. If you want a picture of ANYTHING without people in it, prepare to arrive by 7am or earlier if you can stand it.
The spiders that live in between the torii gates scared the pants off of me. They're huge and yellow and I am 100% not a fan. I had originally wanted to repeat this hike at night, but the fear of walking into a web unawares was far too great.
This super buff baby Groot sticker was absolutely ridiculous, especially in the middle of such a awe-inspiring and introspective shrine. A lot of the poles around Japan were covered in stickers, which was surprising (and delightful). It's that unexpected combination of old and new that made me like Kyoto so much.
Because of our early start, we had the opportunity to explore at our own pace. It was stunningly quiet and almost eerie having the place to ourselves. The smell of incense snaked around the mossy stone statues, candles flickering in the humid morning air. It was transporting and I felt like I was in a video game, searching for clues and shiny relics. We didn't find any treasures, but we did find the most important thing: cats!
Gift Shop: As we climbed higher, we found that there were a few vending machines and small stands selling souvenirs and hard boiled eggs. I bought a miniature torii gate that a woman personalized with my information and a wish for the future. I also bought a lot of water.
Hours of Operation: Open 24 hours, but watch out for spiders.
Time Spent: 3 hours