Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, Japan
Fushimi Inari Taisha in the south of Kyoto is one of the must-visits when in Japan. This shrine is known for its thousands of vermilion torii gates leading you up mount Inari.
If you’ve seen any Japan travel brochures, there’s a big chance you’ve seen pictures of them already. I, myself have had it as my screensaver since I was 13 years old.
Visiting Japan had been a bucket list item for me for many years, but walking through the gates of Fushimi Inari Taisha took the top spot. And finally visiting it, 10 years later, certainly didn’t disappoint.
About Fushimi Inari Taisha
The shrine itself dates back to 711, making it one of the oldest shrines in Kyoto. It is dedicated to the Shinto god “Inar”, the god of rice, sake and prosperous business. While there are over 30,000 shrines dedicated to this god in Japan, Fushimi Inari Taisha is the main shrine.
In the Shinto religion, Inari’s messengers look like foxes. That’s why you can find fox statues scattered around the mountain and near the gates. They’re often portrayed to be holding something in their mouth: usually, it’s rice, a jewel or a granary key.
The Torii gates at this shrine are all donated by individuals and businesses. The prices vary depending on what gate you buy, but you can expect to pay somewhere between ¥400,000 and ¥1,000,000 (approximately $3500 – $9000). Luckily, visiting the shrine is completely free!
Visiting Fushimi Inari Taisha
Fushimi Inari Taisha isn’t a hidden gem. Many people travel to Kyoto to visit it, so we made sure to get there bright and early to avoid any crowds. We even made sure that our hotel in Kyoto was located near Fushimi Inari Taisha, so we could quickly walk over in the morning.
We arrived at the shrine just before 7 AM and, luckily, going this early worked out really well and there were only a few other people. We explored the shrines near the bottom of the mountain before heading to the big trail of Torri gates that would lead us up mount Inari.
At the foot of the mountain, you’ll find two lines of closely aligned Torii gates, called Senbon Torii. This is probably the most photographed spot near Fushimi Inari Taisha and having visited it myself, I can understand why.
Finally getting to see the iconic Torii gates lined up and walking through them felt magical. I had been dreaming of this for years and the experience was amplified since it was so early and quiet. It truly was one of my favourite memories.
The hike itself took around three hours, with some stops along the way to rest, enjoy the view and take pictures in the green forest with vermillion gates in between – it is a picture-perfect place.
The top of Mount Inari was slightly disappointing since there’s not much there. It’s more about the experience of walking up the mountain, through the gates, rather than getting to the destination. But even then, I’m incredibly glad we got to visit it and experience it!
On our way down, we were met with large crowds and lines of people trying to get through the first few gates. It was only around 10 AM, so if you’re planning to visit Fushimi Inari Taisha, make sure to go as early as possible!
Fushimi Inari Taisha is located in the south of Kyoto. There aren’t many other tourist attractions nearby, so you’ll most likely have to travel down to come to see it. From downtown Kyoto, you can get a train to Inari Station, which is located opposite the main entrance. It’s very easy to get there by train and only takes about 5 minutes. Plus, if you have a JR Pass, you can use the JR Nara Line for free.
The shrine is free to visit and you can hike the mountain at your own pace. Even if you only want to see the first few rows of gates, it’s still very much worth a visit. The hike up and down the mountain takes around 2-3 hours but isn’t very strenuous. Plus, there are many places to stop along the way, including some stalls where you can buy a drink or a snack.
Near the bottom shrine, there are some souvenir shops and outside the main entrance, you can find a little food market. It’s the perfect place to grab a bite to eat after your hike. They have anything from yakitori to fresh mochi. Keep in mind that while the shrine itself is open 24 hours per day, the shops only open between 9 and 5.
Fushimi Inari Taisha certainly deserves a place on everyone’s Japan bucket list.
About the Author
Nele is a travel blogger based in Machester, UK and owner of The Navigatio where she focuses on UK & European city breaks and Japan. Nele says ”While I don’t mind spending a little on comfort, I try to keep my trips within a comfortable budget.”
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