63 stories at Fushimi Inari-Taisha

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Lamia planned for another set of great visits today, and the first one was the Fushimi Inari shrine, which is basically a walk around a mountain in a visually stunning setting.

The majority of this many kilometer long walk is inside alleys of these wooden, orange pillars or gates. In walking direction nothing is written on them, but if you look back, like on the above photo, you can see all these inscriptions.

Along the long way many shrines and sculptures invite to worship and to reflect on one’s self.

It is a long way, but it’s not that bad if you are of average fitness. As it turns out, however, walking along and around and atop a mountain has other perks for the ignorant visitor which can be a little surprising. Let me tell you: there are stairs. Lots of stairs. Right? Hm… I think I didn’t express that correctly: there are really, really, really, really many, many, many stairs. Easily 50% of the walk is stairs. And sure: some of them are rather steep.

Now, again: that’s not such a biggie if you are of average fitness.
But if you are of average fitness and brought your two heavy camera bags, a heavy diaper bag, another bag and a stroller and a 12 kg boy with you, things become… interesting.

Here we’re still laughing…

But soon after, this became a rather taxing workout for all of us.

In the end Lamia carried Oskar and a bag with some of our things, while I carried both our photo bags, the diaper bag and the stroller, too.

Now, I will say with some pride that with all this load I climbed faster than most people on the path, which is why I still felt okay to take photos here and there.

As I was hauling all that stuff up the hill, I could feel how other visitors looked at me and I translated their looks into two distinct groups, which were:

Group 1: Poor sucker!

Group 2: What an idiot!

At the same time, I weirdly enjoyed the challenge this walk presented and I only felt bad that Lamia had to carry Oskar the whole way. While I had more to carry from a technical weight perspective, Osakr needs more attention and care and it speaks to Lamia’s magic that I never heard him cry or complain.

Everything has to come to an end, and when we passed the above water fountain, we got the indication from a couple that the top of the mountain with the shrine was near. We climbed a little further but stopped for a break and diaper change at this spot…

Yes, Coca Cola is everywhere.
These vending machines, be they from Coke or another company, are ubiquitous in Japan, by the way. At every corner you turn you will find a vending machine where you can buy ridiculously chilled drinks. Lamia’s typical choice was Coke Zero (because there is hardly any Diet Coke in Japan for some reason) and I picked Aquarius.

Finally we continued on the last stretch on our way to the top.

We passed by a few more little shrines, sculptures and other visually appealing treats…

… and then finally arrived at the top.
Hooray! I dropped all the stuff I was carrying and made a happy dance. A random guy who had seen me carrying all our things turned to me and said:

Random guy: Man… seriously! Respect!

I was happy.
The funny thing is that from an ignorant’s point of view, the shrine up here on the top is by no means that different from all the others you see further down. So you could say that if you climbed a little bit up and then turn around, you do not miss that much (except the weird adrenaline push and joy to have made it). Naturally we had to take a photo of the family after having conquered the shrine:

Do you see all that crab we hauled up the hill? Not bad, eh?
Now that I have the iPhone 6, it also has the ability to make an assessment of how many stories you’ve climbed during the day. I pulled it out and checked the status at the time we arrived at the top:

It makes you laugh: all the days before were 10-ish stories or so. Just the few hours of Fushimi Inari had pushed my day’s stories up to 63!

And then you stop laughing – because you have to go down again, too.
Ah, darn! We thus did not spend much time at the shrine and decided to keep moving.

So Lamia grabbed Oskar and the bag, I grabbed the rest and off we went. Downhill is always faster than uphill, I guess, and eventually we came back to the point where we had started a few hours earlier. Ah, back then when we did not know how many stairs we would have to defeat.

Oskar had fallen asleep on the way down and I cannot fathom how Lamia, who is now 5 months pregnant, can still smile after carrying the boy for such a long walk and climb.

I just have an amazing wife, that’s how!

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