Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fushimi-Inari: A Reminder of the Duality of Japan

Once you decide that you are going to hike to the top of a mountain, there’s no going back. And Fushimi-Inari is definitely a hike. 250 meters later, we were tired and sore, but we were at the top, looking down at… well, trees.

One thing that I have noticed about Japan is the sheer amount of foliage. Fushimi-Inari, the birthplace of kitsune mythology, is definitely no exception. Going up the mountain we saw trees…


And trees.

Then suddenly we looked to our right and saw…

...Kyoto. It was probably the strangest visual experience I’ve had in Japan. Here I was, practically wrapped in greenery, and then all of a sudden I was reminded that half an hour ago I had been on a train, in a city with thousands of other people. The shrine is literally right next to the city; all that separates them is a line of torii and a sea of leaves. This is visual Japan. Unlike America, where the parks exist in one place and the cities exist in another, Japan allows the urban and the organic to mix: you will never see one without the other. This is not only tue of Fushimi-Inari. Everywhere I go I see greenery. Whether I’m in a trrain or walking down the street, I’m constantly reminded that nature is everywhere. Cities either nestle themselves in the middle of nature, or nature twines itself around the cities. This duality is, to me, what defines Japan, or at least Kyoto. There is no “inside” or “outside” there is just… Japan.

...And trees.

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