Happy new year from Kyoto

salted mackerel on a stick

This is salted fish on a stick. Mackerel, I believe. It made me very happy.

ring of barbecued salted fish

We ate it next to this barbecue pit, on a bench, inside a tiny market stall in Fushimi Inari. That’s where we went for new year’s eve.

market stall at Fushimi Inari

eggy bread balls market stall

barbecued salted fish market stall

sugared sweet potato wedges market stall

metric fuckton of people walking to Fushimi Inari shrine

As you can see, we invited a few thousand of our closest friends to come with.

cop taking photo

Seriously, the crowds were massive. There were cops there to ensure things didn’t get out of hand. They seemed like nice cops, though. Apparently if you ask nicely, they’d help you take photos.

approaching torii gate in front of Fushimi Inari shrine

shrine grounds

fushimi-inari-nye-037

people praying at a shrine

Fushimi Inari Taisha is a Shinto shrine at the base of a 233m mountain. Actually, it’s one of many, many shrines, all dedicated to Inari, the god of rice. Scattered (understatement) throughout the grounds are statues of kitsune (foxes, Inari’s messengers) and bright red torii gates.

approaching the torii gates walkway

start of a section of many torii gates

inside the tunnel of gates

still inside the tunnel of gates

We walked up the Senbon Torii (thousands of gates) trail. It felt like forever. There were several rest areas on the way to the top, but no matter how far up they were, every map would say “YOU ARE HERE” in the same spot.

candles next to a shrine at a rest stop

rest stop area partway up the mountain

about to enter another set of gates

more gates

even more gates

still more gates

OH GOD, GATES ALL DAY

A Japanese friend once told me that her culture’s definition of hell was being stuck in an infinite loop of doing the same thing. I wondered if I had fallen into that loop.

shrines at the top of the walkway

Finally, we emerged at what seemed to be the top of the walkway – top of the mountain, maybe? – and saw many, many things. Statues, small shrines, tiny shrines, bigger but still humbly sized shrines, stone things, wood things, twisted paper, tiny torii gates. It was lovely and peaceful, even with small groups of people milling around.

many shrines at statues at the top of the walkway

miniature red gates at shrines

one of many shrines at the mountain top

It was lovely. Four minutes to midnight by the time we settled in for a breather. Could hear the countdown from people around us, down the mountain, and presumably at the bottom too.

view of Kyoto at night from Mount Inari

Our new year view.

large crowd at the bottom of the mountain

And then, the way home.

yep, that's a lot of people

Happy new year, everyone. :)