10 (Probably) Unknown Points of Interest in Kyoto
Walking along the river that passes in front of Fushimi Inari Taisha
What it is
Fushimi Inari Taisha is among the “must see” places in Kyoto and most visitors using public transport get there with the Keihan train line and stop at Fushimi Inari station, before crossing on foot a beautiful vermilion bridge on their way to the shrine.
But how many take the time to walk alongside the river that runs under that bridge?
Very few if I am to believe the rare people I’ve met there. And yet it’s an easy, gorgeous and varied walk: it’s mostly flat with a beautiful river and many small bridges crossing over it (which make it easy to switch bank and take great pictures), and we end up walking along residential areas (enjoying the silence or the kids’ laugh) and places with more trees, seeing small temples, it’s easy to take a side road to take a swing by Fushimi Inari or the Tofuku-ji before resuming the journey, the side roads offer restaurants and cafés, etc. And last but not least: we’re almost always next to the river, except one area near Tofuku-ji station – see “access” below).
The easiest is either to start north by taking the Keihan line to Tofuku-ji station, or south at Sumizome station.
Well… those who have found the river on a map have already noticed that it actually continues past both points but the missing bits aren’t the most interesting ones and skipping them will make your life easier.
Now if you’re like me and just have to see it all then you can start north at Shichijo station and walk a bit south until you reach the river. From there stay on the east bank because the west one will quickly turn into a road that is dangerous and uninteresting for pedestrians. The path will make a big turn to go around a pretty ugly chemical plant, but once you reach Tofuku-ji station (and the huge bridge perpendicular to it) you just have to go west to find again the water and stick to it.
If you’re starting south then begin at Tembabashi station and walk about 10mn north until you reach “Fushimi Incline” – the starting point. One you reach the huge bridge, go east to get to Tofuku-ji station, walk alongside it to the north to go around the plant and follow the road that goes west and brings you back to the river.
It’s an interesting walk no matter the weather (except perhaps when there’s a typhoon!) but at night the street lights on each bank are reflected in the water and make it all mysterious and magical – a bit like studio Ghibli’s famous film “Spirited Away”.
Then walking north to south or south to north will mostly depend on whether you intend to connect with the part I introduced previously (Kamo River) and if you wish to stop on the way to visit, eat and so on.
Either way don’t forget to stop by Dragon burger right next to Tofuku-ji station to taste what some call the best burgers in Kyoto (with interesting flavors inspired by Japanese ingredients)!