JAPAN 2016: Kyoto for a Day

Finally the last leg of my Japan travel diary!

I’ll keep this short, just like how our day trip to Kyoto was. We took the train out from Osaka early on a Monday morning with no booked tours or anything, it was another choose your own adventure day.

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Tourist girls

Since we didn’t have enough time to see all of Kyoto, we decided to just thoroughly explore the famous Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine and Mt. Inari Trail. Like the tourists that we are, we spent the day struggling gracefully climbing the mountain steps and trying to get the perfect shot with the iconic orange toriiΒ gates.

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Mom at the main gate
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Prayer cards featuring foxes (kitsune) as messengers in Inari shrines

The torii gates are said to represent the transition from “the profane to the sacred.” And in fact, there’s no better way to explain the experience of Kyoto. Something about the atmosphere at Fushimi-Inari felt so inherently sacred, peaceful, and wise. The base of the mountain was crowded to the brim with other tourists, but the further along we walked, the less people we encountered.

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The torii started off compact and small but grew in size as we walked further up the mountain.
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In Shinto religion, Inari is the god of rice, fertility and prosperity. Each torii at Mt. Inari was donated by a Japanese business.

I was in for a surprise when I found out the trail would take us around 2 hours from the base to the peak and back. I was definitely not ready to climb a mountain that day and there was a point when I wholeheartedly wanted to turn back. But we were already about a quarter of the way through, so we kept on. It was a true test of patience. Instead, surrounded by nature and the lack of Wifi signal, we all got the real chance to reflect and be in the moment.

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Bea was here
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Kyoto feels
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When we thought we made it to the top but this was apparently just one of the subshrines before the peak LOL
Nowadays, with the way we all consume experiences the way we do fast food and prioritize documenting moments over living in them and just really being there (myself guilty to the bone), I worry that our lack of presence will never do justice to the beauty and peace that we encountered that day.
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I’m tired but let’s play the Insta game
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When we finally got that “perfect” family shot after asking several tourists to take our pic

We always want to arrive at that perfect moment, that perfect photograph, that perfect something. But if there’s anything I learned that day, it’s that we don’t always need to arrive at the perfect moment. There is perfection in every moment, but only if we are present enough to receive it. If we’re too busy searching for perfect, we miss the gift of now.

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Street food after the 2 hour trail was the best reward
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Hello, Kitty! Authentic Japanese shops lined the streets of Kyoto
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Waiting for life to begin

That day in Kyoto, we chose our own adventure and as usual our day unraveled differently from what we expected. Looking back, what really matters isn’t so much how perfectly our expectations were met, but how we met each imperfect moment with eagerness and the gift of our presence.

Because sometimes, life moves so fast we cannot help but delay reflection until after the fact. Details may fade but I believe the essence of the experience will always survive. Nonetheless, we must try our best to capture the meaning in our days, for they are as fleeting as the moments that slip us by.

Bea

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