Day 14- Hidden Gems

Day 14 was dedicated to the otaku in me as I was travelling to Omi Jingu, a shrine featured in Chihayafuru, an anime I really like (I need season 3 please). I also wanted to go to the mountain regions nearby, and the train station for the cable car was just one stop away from Omi Jingu, so it was a win-win for me. I was travelling alone that day so I set out as early as I could.

Following google maps makes taking trains super easy. Not once did I get lost, which i was initially scared of since I was going to an area that is not exactly touristy. Both Omi Jingu and the Sakamoto cable car are in Otsu city, which is sandwiched between Kyoto and lake Biwa. Most people have never even heard of it.

A quiet park on a quiet day

When I reached the tiny little station for omi jingu, there was hardly anyone there. It was a residential area and the shrine was a mere 5 minutes away from the station. The park leading to the shrine was empty as well, and it was nice to just slowly take a stroll there.

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Main entrance

And then immediately you see the long staircase leading up to the shrine that seems ever so familiar. It’s a moment that makes you feel like you’re somehow in the anime and it’s really really cool to finally see the places that inspired the anime in person.

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Getting ready for the karuta tournament

There was a poster of Chihayafuru there and they were selling Chihayafuru Omamori but other than that the shrine was kept as it is. I’m really glad that they did not, for the lack of a better word, pimp out the shrine to Chihayafuru. It’s really important to remind ourselves that the shrine and karuta inspired Chihayafuru and not the other way around. To degrade its value to just ‘that place in Chihayafuru’ is plain wrong.

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A nod to Chihayafuru

There were a couple of families in traditional attire there and it was really cute to see the little ones waddle around in their kimonos. Other than that the place was dead silent.

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I felt free to do as I pleased

Karuta was on centre stage at the shrine with several sets of the cards on display, since karuta tournaments are held there every year.

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*not actual size

There were also several clocks and sundials which were really cool. I’m not exactly sure why this shrine had so many of them.

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Rolex pimp my shrine

the shrine was very peaceful and calming. It’s a nice get away from all the crowds. When I was exiting the area there was a little flea market at the main walkway of the park. I stopped there to buy some takoyaki for lunch.

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Selling trinkets and snacks

Next was Mt Hiei, which was accessible by the Sakamoto cable car one stop away. I took the train and walked up the slope to the cable car.

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Can I just say that the small rivers by the walkways were so beautiful

I finally reached the cable car which was 10 minutes away from the train station. It was a really cute cable car with enough seats for about 20 people.

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Longest cable car line in Japan!

This mountain is probably one of the best kept secrets in the Kansai region. The view is absolutely spectacular and you can see lake Biwa in all its  (massive) glory. I went in winter and so there was also snow at the top!

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A gorgeous view

Everyone was just so happy to see the snow. It was a rather sunny day so we didn’t realise that there would be so much.

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Baby it’s cold outside

There were several shrines at the top that were all accessible for a small fee. I spent most of my money on the cable car (about 1200 yen for two way trip) but it was totally worth it.

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Walking around is a massive work out because of the slopes

I walked to the main temple, Enryakuji. This is another UNESCO world heritage site (one of the many, many I saw in this trip). Very strangely, this temple was once also involved with the yakuza which lead to a nationwide scandal and resignation of many officials.

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Still really pretty in the snow

I then walked around the forested areas before heading back towards the cable. There were lots of beautiful places to take photos.

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Praying for more snow

On the way back to the cable is got sidetracked because I saw a dog (a doge to be precise) and I stayed at while to play with it.

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Such pet much wow

I took in the view for a last time and made my way down. I still had an hour’s journey ahead of me back to the dorm.

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Mt Hiei was absolutely breathtaking

All in all this was probably one of my favourite days in Japan. Doing a bit of research to find places you want to go to that may not be that popular really pays off. Even though I walked 27285 steps I was very satisfied  (and very tired). I grabbed instant dinner from 7/11 (first time in a while heh).

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