away from the static and noise in the city, away from the hectic footsteps and distractions.
I stopped in my tracks. A slow smile made its way up my face as I closed my eyes and inhaled;
the crisp mountain air that buzzed with positive energy and what smelt like notes of maple;
And I was more aware than ever, that this was what I sought,
from the moment I picked up my backpack and walked the path ahead.
Trekking my way through mountains in Kyoto was one of my best experiences in Japan. The air was fresh and crisp, and the quietness sent ripples of calmness across my chest. Its truly an experience of zen that can only be felt, not transmitted by words.
As a big fan of trekking, I arranged for three destinations throughout the 9 days of my itinerary to trek my heart out.
1) Fushimi Inari Taisha
A world renowned destination and a trademark of Kyoto, Tourists who didn't do their research would only know about the 1000 torii gates oh the shrine, and leave after taking their fill of touristy photos about 15-20 minutes in the hike. If you're travelling without a tight restraint of time on your schedule, I highly recommend you to do the complete hike of about 2 hours with very low difficulty. After all, it is worthwhile to take your time to enjoy the full package and you'll find lots of photo opportunities in unexpected corners. The only regret is that there aren't any spectacular views at the peak, just a marker saying that its the top. Hardly rewarding for a climb to the top, but its the process that matters isn't it? Achievement unlocked!There are also one or two shops along the climb that sell beverages and small souvenirs.
2）Kibune & Kurama trail - Aside from main attractions such as the Fishimi Inari Taisha, I also ventured slightly off the beaten path to trek the Kibune-Kurama trail which can be done in half a day. Its a simple trek that takes about 2-3 hours and you get to experience a great place that takes you out of the main attractions and enjoy the unique beauty of Japanese mountains in an easy hike. On this trail, you get to experience hiking your way cedar trees that are thousands of years old, check out some quiet shrines, authentic Japanese dining on a river as well as take a dip in the Onsen at the end of the trail.
Get on an old train that makes its way chugging through the forest and get off at the Kibune station. Follow the signs and you'll find the trail right next to a river. A short way into your hike and you will find a few exquisite Japanese restaurants lining up at the sides of a slope. People say eating authentic Japanese food is not only about the food, its also an experience! Despite the food being pricey, you can try some unique foods that are hardly available in the cities, such as noodles that come sliding across you on bamboo with icy flowing water. ひろ文 料理旅館, the name of the restaurant that sells the flowing water noodles (Nagashi Somen) is built on stilts on top of a shallow river. Although I wasn't able to try it at the point of time, people who are interested to try can try it at ￥1300/person. During the hike, you'll find yourself entranced with the natural captivating beauty of cedar trees and beautiful shrines, so slow down and take your time to snap some pictures. After about two and a half hours, you'll find yourself at the end of the trail at the Kurama shrine and walk about to discover the onsen nearby. Re-hydrate yourself with a bottle of cold chocolate milk after the onsen session for the complete experience (I have no idea why they do that but yes it feels awesome).
ひろ文 料理旅館 (Hirobun inn)
3) Monkey Park (Arashiyama) - Just as its name suggests, a short detour away from the main attractions of Arashiyama is the Monkey Park. Many Japanese Monkeys live freely at the peak of this mountain, and are completely used to tourists approaching them. After buying the entrance tickets at 550 yen, climb about 150 steps to up a hill and you'll come to a junction which are two trails for the hike. The left route is a shortcut with a steeper hike and the right path takes you around the back of the mountain with an easier trek. The entire journey up takes about 30 minutes by foot. During my trip, we braved the rain to hike up the monkey park, with my white shoes taking the brunt of rain and mud. Unfortunately we didn't get to take many photos along the way due to the weather conditions.