Torii and Arashiyama

November 14, 2009 at 4:09 pm 3 comments

Take One
12 November 2009

Have you ever felt like you have stepped onto the set of an indescribably beautiful film and that any second the lights will come up and someone will usher you off the premises? Well we had one of those days today in Kyoto.

Our first Hollywood moment took place at Fushimi Inari Shrine when, predictably, we stumbled onto a scene from Memoirs of a Geisha. Luckily they let us hang around for a while.

Although the shrine includes the usual temples and incense, what everyone really goes for is the torii – those beautiful deep orange gates that you see on every Japanese postcard. While we had seen the odd one or two lying around since we arrived, we had been a little underwhelmed – until now.


With 4km of torii climbing up a steep mountain, Fushimi Inarii is the mother lode for anyone who likes gates. Or the colour orange. The most memorable section, and the one from Memoirs of a Geisha, is a pretty short stretch (maybe 100m long) of back-to-back vivid orange torii with black engraved Japanese letters on them. Of course, as is always the case, running the route was easier for the Geisha than it was for us. Two hours, several bottles of over-priced water and one sunburn later, our white make-up was was all over our kimono and our heavily ornamented hair was a darn sight.


Take two
12 November 2009

Our second brush with fame happened outside the north gate of Tenryuji Temple. As it was coming into early evening (and it being winter it was starting to get dark), this one was fortunately less crowded with tourists than our first stop.


After a few wrong turns we managed to locate the Bamboo Grove in Arashiyama that looks exactly like a scene out of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The fading light gave it a great eretheral air, even if there was a gang of Japanese schoolgirls holding up peace signs while their friends took photos on their 25th century phones. The soundtrack of screaming monkeys and the wind blowing through the trees also added to the magic. Since bamboos are so tall and hollow, they make a really unique, faraway sound – the usual whoosh of leaves blowing combined with the hollow thwack of trunks banging against each other. Strangely enough it sounds exactly like rain beating against glass on a windy day.

More pictures from Kyoto are available on the gallery


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Hida Takayama, the colour of Japan. Bath-time Fun(uoka)

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. thelocalguide  |  November 14, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    wow impressive places!

  • 2. Celina "no wheel" Murphy  |  November 15, 2009 at 4:44 pm


    But in all squarness, yous are missing out on loads here…CALVIN HARRIS just rushed the stage at X factor with a pineapple on his head during Jedward’s version of ‘Under Pressure/Ice Ice Baby’…

  • 3. ash  |  April 12, 2010 at 4:27 am

    I was there at the Bamboo Grove nearly 6 years ago and looking at your photo now, it brings back great memories. Thank you.


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