Kyoto tales: Torii gates take your breath away, inari are yum

By Melissa Masatani, Staff Writer

Another of Kyoto’s most photographed sites is the Fushimi-Inari Taisha, a shrine dedicated to the god of rice and sake. While the buildings are impressive, it’s the torii gates that take your breath away.

Visitors can walk to the top of the mountain through thousands of vermilion red-orange post-and-lintel gates, each one sponsored — and replaced every decade — by companies looking for success in business.

While I didn’t make it to the top, which is supposed to have spectacular views of the city, I definitely recommend stopping at several of the food vendors and trying the inari, or “footballs” as I call them.

Inari are fried tofu pockets filled with rice and, while some sushi restaurants offer them in the U.S., I have not found any that compare to the way my grandmother made them, and how they make them in Kyoto every day. It was a real treat.

On our way back to central Kyoto, we hopped off the bus near the Kyoto National Museum and were one of the last visitors of the day at the impressive Sanjusangendo.

A Buddhist temple, it houses more than 1,000 statues of the Buddhist goddess of mercy, Kannon, each one different and all of them sculpted more than 800 years ago.

Visitors are required to remove their shoes and photographs are forbidden inside the hall. The grounds are beautifully peaceful despite the busy streets and commuting crowds outside the temple walls.

Fushimi-Inari Taisha and Sanjusangendo are along Kyoto’s eastern border, making both of those sites easily visited in one day.

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