Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan
Fushimi Inari Shrine (伏見稲荷大社, Fushimi Inari Taisha) is an important Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto.
It was one of our top 2 highlights of Japan (the other being TeamLab - Borderless in Tokyo). However, be warned! There are lots of tourists at this site most of the day, so to get some of the clear shots that I took on this page, you will need two wingmen on watch to be able to block people from passing - well that's what I had at least!
We got there late in the day (around 4pm) and with so many people around, I thought it was going to be a lost cause to get photos, but I persevered and in the end not only did we get a good walk up a mountain, I also managed to get some great shots - mostly on the way down.
The images featuring writing on the gates are actually the back of the gates and indicate the company or family who donated the gate - that's right, all of these gates have been donated - and there are literally thousands of them. I'm glad the writing was in Japanese, as it probably says things like "Proudly donated by Nissan, Mitsubishi, Sony, Honda, Toyota" etc. No disrespect intended though, as this is a beautiful space to be in - apart form all the other people who are there taking selfies, checking them, taking them again and again and again without moving on so that someone else can grab a pic.
This shrine is famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings. The trails lead into the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari, which stands at 233 meters and belongs to the shrine grounds.
Fushimi Inari is the most important of several thousands of shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. Fushimi Inari Shrine has ancient origins, predating the capital's move to Kyoto in 794.
As I said, the donator's name and the date of the donation inscribed on the back of each gate. The cost starts around 400,000 yen for a small sized gate and increases to over one million yen for a large gate.
The hike to the summit of the mountain and back takes about 2-3 hours, however, visitors are free to walk just as far as they wish before turning back. Along the way, there are multiple smaller shrines with stacks of miniature torii gates that were donated by visitors with smaller budgets.
We only got to the Yotsutsuji intersection, which is roughly half way up the mountain, (I was knackered) where there are some nice views over Kyoto. From here the trail splits into a circular route to the summit. Many people only venture as far as here, as the trails do not offer much variation beyond this point and the gate density decreases further.
My advice is to go early though before the crowds. Make it an early morning thing, as early as you can, as it is always open.
Fushimi Inari Shrine is located just outside JR Inari Station, the second station from Kyoto Station along the JR Nara Line (5 minutes, 140 yen one way from Kyoto Station, not served by rapid trains). The shrine can also be reached in a short walk from Fushimi Inari Station along the Keihan Main Line.
How to get to and around Kyoto
OPEN: Always open
ADDRESS: 68 Fukakusa Yabunouchi-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto City