The Tō-ji Cherry Blossom Illumination in Kyoto (Tō-ji, Part 3 of 3)

The Tō-ji Cherry Blossom Illumination in Kyoto (Tō-ji, Part 3 of 3)

n April 2019, while finishing the 100 mountain climbs that became the basis for CLIMB, I visited Kyoto with my friend (and fellow author) Laura VanArendonk Baugh. By chance, our day in the ancient capital coincided with the final nights of the annual sakura (cherry blossom) illumination at Tō-ji, the UNESCO World Heritage temple that also happens to be one of Kyoto’s oldest sacred sites.

Read more

Visiting Tō-ji: a Temple Tied to Kyoto’s Ancient Past (Part 1 of 3)

Visiting Tō-ji: a Temple Tied to Kyoto’s Ancient Past (Part 1 of 3)

In 794, Kyoto (then renamed Heian-kyo) became the capital of Japan. At that time, the official entrance to the city was in the south (the direction visitors came when approaching from the former capital of Nara). A pair of guardian temples stood on either side of the entrance, at the start of an enormous, broad, flat road that led from the official city entrance all the way to the Imperial Palace in the northern part of the city.

Read more

CHAPTER 20: On Mount Inari

CHAPTER 20: On Mount Inari

Fushimi Inari Taisha winds up the slopes of Mt. Inari like a coiled dragon made of vermilion gates; while many visitors go no farther than the first station, Mom, Laurie, Kaitlyn, and I made the hour-long trek to the summit, as a “training climb” that would let me assess our potential pace for the upcoming (and far longer) climb of Fuji.

Read more

Climbing Mount Inari (Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto)

Climbing Mount Inari (Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto)

Yesterday morning, I completed the second non-solo ascent of my 100 Summits Project: Mount Inari (Fushimi Inari Taisha) in Kyoto. The day before, I traveled from Tokyo to Kyoto via shinkansen (bullet train) with my mother, stepdad, and family friends Laurie and Kaitlyn Bolland (as well as my son) to begin several days of hiking and R&R in advance of our planned ascent of Mt. Fuji later this week. (While the weather may not cooperate on Fuji, we’re hoping the predicted storms pass by and we get the chance to climb.)

Read more

A Visit to Eikan-do, part 2: The Pagoda

A Visit to Eikan-do, part 2: The Pagoda

No visit to Kyoto’s Eikan-do would be complete without a visit to the hillside pagoda – though many visitors miss the amazing view because the path to the pagoda (and the fact that it’s open to the public) isn’t always obvious. The path lies past the dragon fountain, at the edge of the steep hillside incline at the back of the temple grounds.

Read more