Sunday, December 16, 2018

Day 2: Fushimi Inari and Hiking Mount Inari

19th October 2018 (Friday)

Fushimi Inari and Mt. Inari Trek
This morning, I would be going to Fushimi Inari and Mount Inari. For breakfast, I had gone to 7-11 to buy some food. I was not sure where the bus stop to Kyoto Station was and had asked the 7-11 cashier.  She had kindly walked out of the store to point to me Higashiyama Yasui bus-stop. It was opposite 7-11 and a few meters to the left. The time was 6:40 a.m. The bus arrived before I had time to finish my breakfast.

At Kyoto Station city bus terminal, I found a place to sit to finish my breakfast. After finishing my food, I somehow managed to find the Pedestrian Walkway to the south side, which I tried so hard to find a day earlier and failed. I could not remember how I found the Pedestrian Walkway but I think I was looking for dustbins to throw away my food wrappers and skewer when I saw the staircase to the Pedestrian Walkway.

I walked to the south-side in search of JR Nara Line station. Nara Line station is situated on the south-east of Kyoto Station at Hachijo East Side. I didn't know at that time that I could reach JR Nara station from the main Central Entrance on the north side of Kyoto Station, after passing through the ticket gates.

At what should be the Nara Station, I did not see the ticket vending machine for JR Nara trains. I only saw the Shinkansen ticket vending machine. When I saw people buying tickets from a small counter, I went there to ask. The officer spoke good English. I could buy the ticket from him. As I walked to JR Lines (Hachijo East Side) ticket gates, I saw the JR Nara train ticket vending machine which was on the wall just before the ticket gates to the platform. I think it was also at this time that I saw the ICOCA logo on some of the ticket gates. Why didn't I notice this earlier? I could have just used my ICOCA card. I have forgotten why I purchased the ICOCA card in the first place.

At the ticket gates to Nara Line platform, a notice said it was only for tickets with white back (after checking my videos/ photos back in PNG, the notice saying "Tickets With White Backs" actually referred to the lane for wheel-chair bound passengers to access the platforms). My ticket has black back. I was confused. There was an office beyond the ticket gates. I went to tell an officer stationed there that I have a ticket to Inari Station but it was not white back. He didn't say anything and asked me to proceed. I asked him whether the platform was 7, 8 or 9 one level down while pointing to the stairs but he pointed me to the steps going up. I nodded my head but was still unsure. Should I go down because I had read that JR Nara trains depart from platforms 7, 8 and 9 or go up one level as advised by the train official? I hesitated but decided to walk up. A train was waiting there. I stepped in. There was an elderly lady there and I asked her whether it was going to JR Inari Station. She responded in good English, saying that she supposed so, and that was why she was there. She must be a visitor herself! I was only a little reassured. I looked around for signs that this train was indeed going to its final destination of Nara.

As the train moved out from the station, I noticed the ticker display on the train showing that it would be going to Nara. Inari Station was on one of its stops. Now, I was totally assured that I would not end up somewhere.

Click to download this full-size map

At Mount Inari, I was surprised at my level of fitness. The round trek to Mt. Inari would take two hours. It is 233 metres high and 12,000 steps far. Even though I exercised more, I did not expect myself to be able to reach the summit (N34.96704° E135.78560°). I was sweating a little only and only a little out of breath. I did take a break to rest at the landing below Yotsu-suji Junction (N34.96903° E135.78121°) and that was the only rest I had.

I knew that to climb Mt. Inari, I had to exercise more. I learnt my lesson in Laos. The 60 metres (?) climb to Luang Prabang Pak Ou upper cave, Tham Theung, was so exhausting that I had to stop and rest a few times. I was sweating non-stop and out of breath by the time I reached the cave. The climb to the 100 meters (328 steps) Mount Phosi in Luang Prabang was equally exhausting that at the ticket desk a short climb from the base, I had to take a long rest before proceeding with the climb to the summit.

At that time, I had taken my exercise lightly. This time, I jogged about two kilometers three times a week consistently two month before my Japan trip.