Being from Seattle, we scoff at people who use umbrellas. We don’t need umbrellas! Yes, it rains but it’s usually just an off-and-on type of rain, or a light drizzle. Nothing our rain jackets, or even a hoodie, can’t handle!
However, I was grateful I brought my grandmother’s umbrella with me on our trip to Kansai while in Japan. Because, while it only rained one day, it sure poured.
In the morning when we arrived to the Inari train station, there was already a steady rain shower. It’ll die down, I thought to myself as I opened up my umbrella.
It didn’t. It rained, and it rained and it rained.
At first I tried to avoid puddles as we climbed up the stone staircases at Fushimi Inari. Quickly, it became irrelevant.
My socks and shoes were soaked. Despite having an umbrella, the bottom part of pants were getting wet. Somehow, I also managed to get my right sleeve wet while holding the umbrella. (See! I’m not used to holding such a thing! I use it and still get wet!)
The rain did not affect the crowds of tourists.
At the beginning, it was slow going. People were trying to stop and take photos from under the red torii gates. This would cause a back-up of everyone behind having to wait. Pretty much everyone was carrying an umbrella too, so it took more time for them to set the umbrella down so it would not be in their pictures.
Instagram v. Reality … am I right?
Bryce and I didn’t hike up to the top of the mountain as we were meeting relatives for lunch. We got more than half way up and I don’t think the view would have gotten any better higher. It was just a grey cloud over Kyoto.
As we turned around and walked down the path, I wondered how things would look if it wasn’t raining and if the sun was out. I’m sure it would feel different. Or, maybe not.
It felt very peaceful, during the parts where no one else was around us. And, even in the rain, the continuous rows of red torii gates were beautiful.
(Side note: I have been to Fushimi Inari one time before during the spring when it was sunny and dry. I was in college, so this was about 12 years ago, and I sadly don’t have any distinct memories of how the gates looked in the sunlight! It was a trip to Kyoto I took with my mom, grandpa and cousin.)
In addition to all the red torii gates at Fushimi Inari, this Shinto shrine is also known for its many fox statues. Foxes were the messengers of Inari, the Shinto god of rice.
There were a few parts of the trail that were actually pretty steep. Funny how sometimes you get a better workout while on vacation than when you are at home trying to do a workout!
In the end, I had:
- Stronger calves.
- Soaked socks and shoes.
- A half-drenched jacket.
- Partially wet pants.
- My bag I was carrying — that contained my belongings for our three-day trip — appeared soaked through, and I was happy to later learn that none of its contents actually got wet.
- Cold hands.
- A great memory of a rainy outing in Kyoto.
Maybe the slightly unfortunate thing was that the lunch we had later that day with my relatives was at a traditional Japanese restaurant where customers remove their shoes upon entering.
Spoiler: Our socks were still sopping wet at lunch time. But, more on that another day.