This morning I awoke before the sun at 6:30am here in Kyoto, it was quiet and cold but I had visited Fushimi Inari (you may recognize the famous gates from the movie Memoirs of a Geisha) the day before and fell in love with the peaceful mountain and had to go back and see it in a different light with no one around. I took the 3 km city route, running through the open spaces with large buildings, to the narrow streets where lanterns hung.
I found it, that large gate welcoming into the shrine, although it is best to go around not through it as the spirits from the dogs guard it for protection. I knew that if I followed the gates it would take me up and around the mountain but my eyes were open, I was awake now and what I saw to the side away from the track seemed much more adventurous and appealing. It looked like a garden where fairies may live, the forest was lush, and the stream ran through. I made it to a small area on the edge of a lake, here the incense from the shrines filled my nostrils, I walked through here wanting to take it in, but those dog’s were kind of scary so I didn’t dare touch as I knew these were made my people who would want them kept private. As I came to the end I saw a path through the forest, it was overgrown, but clearly it had been used so I figured it would be ok to walk through. I felt alive and I smiled the whole way, civilization felt so far now as all I could here were the birds. Always look up the tree tops are amazing, and the mountain you could tell would soon be filled with colour when Autumn comes. I reached the top and found a road, it looked as though it would be used to carry the wood down for the gates.
It’s funny the first gate was made because a man had cut down a tree from the forest and become very sick, he believed he was cursed by the forest because he had chopped the tree, so he built a gate at the mountain to protect it and not long after he was cured from his sickness. Many then followed after building more and more gates. The funny part of this story however is that the gates are made of wood so more trees would have had to be cut to make the gate and protect them….?
The road was not the only thing I found here however I also heard the loud hits and sounds below of ninjas training… Awsome!!!!
I headed back and decided it was time to stick to the path of the gates before I got myself too lost, which happens too often. When I reached a view point on the mountain I looked across at Kyoto seeing the big city buzzing and then further the mountain with snow on top, and then there I was amongst the trees, listening to the birds almost laughing at everyone below, living in the city when here they were in the real paradise.
As I made my way back down I found amusement in creating a small workout, and you can definitely try it wherever you are.
– I found crates linked by bamboo, but you could simply use a wooden fence or even gutter. This was my balance training and I walked across. (Remember to use your breath as the exhale will engage your core muscles which assist in keeping you upright)
– Any tree with a low enough strong branch. Jump up to grip and perform about 4reps to pull your chest into the branch whilst squeezing your shoulder blades together. (Don’t let your butt drop) Once competed jump down into a squat position.Do about 3sets.
– Those who have trained with me will know what a sexy leopard walk or push up is, if you don’t check out the picture below with Lachie executing great technique at rye back beach last summer. Here I have progressed it. Find some steps and be very careful not to face plant, you must be able to perform this exercise on a flat surface first. In a low crouched position walk your left hand one step further then the right, bend the right leg and open the hip to the side away from the body and look to that leg, continue to do this by alternating sides walking down the steps.Such a good exercise, to strengthen through the shoulders and back muscles, strengthen the core and open your hips!
The last one I played with was looking up the steps, in a hip width stance balancing on the edge of the step with my forefeet. From here I then did 10 squats maintaining this balance position so my heals were off the step and forefeet gripping. The trick is to keep your weight centred. This will strengthen your calf muscles, butt, core, and quads… Amazing!
Enjoy everyone! Remember to be aware of any physical restrictions you may have and adjust this to suit your own physical capabilities, listen to your body and have fun with it.
If you’re visiting or in Kyoto and feel like a run exploration and workout you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you prefer something a little less active there is also fantastic walking and cycling tours being offered with Urban adventures. Follow this link to find out more. http://www.urbanadventures.com/destination/Kyoto_tours