Travel Kyoto: Fushimi Inari’s infinite orange gates

Fushimi Inari Taisha is a bit of an other-worldly experience. It’s a seemingly endless series of massive orange Tori gates, which visitors walk through to travel up the side of the mountain. It is a long and steep climb, and there isn’t really a viewing point at the top. So making this climb is more about the journey and not the destination. Walking through the gates is a sensory overload. You’re surrounded by bright orange (not the most peaceful colour), light moves back and forth between the gates, and you need to focus on walking up the steps. Both times I went turned into evening, adding an extra challenge of limited visibility to the climb.


At many points on the mountain there are stops for worship and you’ll also see a lot of fox imagery throughout, as they are seen as messengers. About half the way up there were groups of wild cats sitting on the side of the path and perching on their claimed resting posts. I’m not sure how they got there, but I like to think they guard over the shrines._DSC0183_DSC0192_DSC0175_DSC0174_DSC0153

I’ve been to Fushimi Inari twice, and the photos found here are from my first trip in October. Despite the fact that it was the 2nd weekend of the month, the weather was warm enough for shorts. The second time was in December, and while it was much colder (around 4 celsius) it was far from the freezing temperature I’m accustomed to back home. If you aren’t able to make the climb, there’s plenty to see at the base of the mountain, with the main shrine and shops. In October, we were lucky to find the path to the shrine lined with large lanterns._DSC0239_DSC0255_DSC0259_DSC0267_DSC0270

Cat Cafe in Kyoto (Wan Nyan Chu)

While wandering through the streets of Kyoto’s Nakagyo Ward  we came across the  “Wan Nyan Chu” Cat Cafe. Although I am a self-professed dog-person, I couldn’t pass up the chance to spend time with some cuddly friends. 

Cat Cafe in Kyoto, Japan.

Cat Cafe in Kyoto, Japan.

Cat Cafes are quite popular in Japan, and for a fee visitors can spend time with these furry felines and are served drinks. 1000 yen bought us a cold drink (I believe mine was peach juice?) and half an hour of play time.  From this visit, I would consider the term “Cat Cafe” to be a bit of a misnomer. I had envisioned myself seated at a table, with cats purring next to me and cuddling between my leisurely sips of coffee. In actuality, this Cat Cafe felt more like play time with the drinks (although enjoyable) being largely insignificant. 


The “Cat” area of the cafe was a comfy room with rugs, benches, climbing trees and dozens of toys. Cats roamed around, slept in nooks and in typical cat fashion seemed relatively unimpressed by the strangers in the room. On the day that we came, a new kitten was being introduced to the group, eliciting great curiosity (and perhaps wariness) from the others. 


I felt a great sense of comfort from my brief hangout at the Cat Cafe, I hadn’t realized how much I miss having a pet. Even if you aren’t the biggest fan of cats, I definitely recommend a visit to a Cat Cafe, if only for the unique experience and some heart-warming cuddles. 


Incidentally enough, cats were a prominent theme during my first day in Kyoto:


Lucky Cats


A wild cat at Fushimin Inari


And, of course.. Cat donuts (Fun fact: the ears are made of almonds)

Cafe Information

Cafe Website: