Fushimi Inari Shrine is rated top 5 must-see attractions in Kyoto. The shrine is famous for its thousands of vermilion Torii gates. Apart from the gates, the trails at Fushimi Inari will lead to the forest of the sacred Mount Inari, which stands at 233 meters. I reached Fushimi Inari at 1 pm after my visit to Arashiyama. If I have more time at Kyoto, I would definitely go in the early morning to escape the crowd.
The Ramon Gate; a grand entrance to the shrine. It was donated in 1589 by the famous leader Toyotomi Hideyoshi. He prayed for his mother recovery from illness and in return the gate was built in gratitude for her recuperation.
The shrine is dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. If you are wondering why there are many fox statues all over the shrine grounds is because the messenger of the god Inari is the fox. The key in their mouth depicted the key to the rice storehouse in ancient times.
Visitors paying respects at the Haiden Hall.
If you purchase the Omikuji (fortune-telling paper strip, you can fold and tie up the omikuji slip at the fence near the torii gates entrance.
The shrine also offers mini tori gates or fox head prayer tablets.
From the map, the trail to the summit seems to be a short hike but actually it is not! The loop to the summit is deceptively long.
Walking Through a Thousand Gates
The main draw is the endless torii gates. All of the gates along the path were donated by either individuals or organisations.
A small sized gate starts around ¥400,000 and can reach up to over a million for a large gate.
The lower trails can be very crowded but it will get lesser once you hike further up.
Each torii gate is inscribed with the donor’s details.
Once you have reached the Yotsutsuji intersection, you are halfway to the summit. Although getting to the summit is rewarding, it is a good idea to turn back from here if your time in Kyoto is limited. In fact, I was told that the view at this intersection is way better than the summit. From Yotsutsuji, you can see the stark contrast between the city and forested area.
From the intersection, there are 2 route to the summit. The shorter route takes about 15-20 minutes to reach the top of Inari. In the interest of time, I decided to hike down to the shrine.
The compound is open all year round and the best time to visit is in the early morning to avoid the horde of people and tourists buses.
Suggested Duration: More than 2 hours.
Fushimi Inari Shrine
68 Yabunouchi-cho, Fukakusa Fushimi-ku, Kyoto
By Train: 3-minute walk from JR Inari Station on the JR Nara Line or
5-minute walk from Keihan Railway Fushimiinari Station
Open daily. Free Admission.