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It will not surprise you that the Japanese have a god of rice, nor that Inari is also the patron of business. What may surprise you is that foxes are considered Inari's messenger.

We hopped a train to the outskirts of the city to Fushimi Inari, the chief shrine in the country to Inari. A repeated theme for a lot of these sites are streets that wind uphill towards the shrine (or temple), usually lined with souvenir shops or street vendors selling various refreshments. So it is at Fushimi, though at the early hour we started, most were not quite open or set up.

The shrine is renowned for its thousands of red torii gates, each donated by a sponsor (often a business). Tunnels of torii lead up the mountainside along winding trails to higher shrines. Andy, Cori and Josh opted to hike all the way up, while Ellen and I did a lower loop back to the first shrine. She and I headed back to Kyoto while the hikers did their thing.

Instead we took a shibori class! The Kyoto Shibori Museum offers a couple of make-and-take workshops and we learned out to create resist patterns by clamping wooden shapes against folded up silk. It's a fun technique, we got great results under Yoshiko-san's tutelage and I think I will be picking up a couple more C-clamps at the hardware store to experiment with in the future.
The proprietor also showed us their upstairs exhibits, which included a demonstration DVD, samples of in-progress pieces using various resist techniques, a roomful of stunning kimono, and recreations of famous artworks in shibori.

We met up with Andy, Cori and Josh at Kyoto Station, walked a few blocks to a curry joint for lunch. Japanese curry is a variant on the Indian kind, only generally pretty mild, served with rice and pretty much anything you care to add to it. Having had curry or curry-katsu two days in a row, I decided to have a salad instead.

We then walked across town to Kiyomizudera Temple. I think maybe it should be renamed Kiyomizoo, because it was one. The uphill approach was jammed with foot traffic and tour buses, and the place was bonkers. Kids on kimono dates, school groups, foreign tourists, the lot. To add to the pandemonium, half the place was under scaffolding and significant chunks of surrounding hillside look like stabilization efforts were in progress. Josh insists it's usually more serene than this.

I did, however, purchase a hand carved boxwood comb in a pretty case at a shop that specializes in them, as well as a miniature gourd from the hyotan man - his are supposed to bring good luck.  And we had a nice rest for hot drinks beneath the temple before heading back towards Higashiyama.

Yasaka Jinja shrine was lit up as we cut through on our way to Sanjo-dori. After a short break at the house, we found a great little yakitori joint just of Sanjo-dori. Hitoshi-san was a wonderful host and every bit of skewered meat that came down the bar was delicious.

I'm sitting here sipping a bit of umeshu on the rocks (plum wine) and will turn in shortly.
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