Journey Through a Thousand Gates – Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto Japan

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As I walk from the Fushimi Inari shrine to the top of the 233 meters high Mount Inari, I struggle to make sense of what I am seeing. More than four thousand sparklingly red Torii gates arch across the narrow pathway that leads to the top.

In some places, the gates stand so tight together that even the sunlight has a hard time getting through. They form a glowing red tunnel that winds itself up to the narrow mountain path.

Fushimi Inari gates
The gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine

The History Of Fushimi Inari Shrine

In the seventh century, the Hata family began construction of the Fushimi Inari shrine. A shrine dedicated to Inari, the god of rice and sake. Over the centuries, as Japan slowly transformed itself from an agricultural nation to an industrial one, the shrine became important for providing luck in business.

Today the Fushimi Inari shrine is the head shrine for over 30 000 Inari shrines all over Japan. Its significance has only grown over the centuries, and it is now one of Japans most visited Shrines. At Japanese new years, more than 3 million people come to pay their respect!

The Fushimi Inari Shrine Entrance

The main shrine that meets you at the entrance is nice enough, with its stark red color and golden ornaments.

But this is Kyoto, a city with hundreds of spectacular shrines and temples, and the main attraction is not the shrine itself but rather the pathway that starts behind the shrine.

Fushimi Inari Shrine entrance
The grand beautiful entrance to Fushimi Inari Shrine
Fushimi Inari Kyoto
Lots of lanterns cover the temple buildings
Kagura-den, a hall where sacred music and dancing is performed

The Walk Through A Thousand Torii Gates

Torii gate
The Fushimi Inari Shrine is packed with red Torii gates

It is really once you start on the climb to the top of mount Inari that things get interesting.

Each one of the over 4000 Torii gates that line the way has been donated by a Japanese business to ensure them luck.

By the sheer number of them I can only imagine that if a business competitor donates a Torii gate to the Fushimi shrine, you better do the same if you want to stay on the god’s good side.

Walking path Fushimi Inari Shrine Kyoto
The walking path up to Fushimi Inari Shrine

The oldest Torii gates are from the 8th century, and new gates are constantly added.

If you would like to buy a gate here, it will cost you from 4000 us$ for a small one, up to as much as 10000 us$ for a large one. After much deliberation, we decided not to buy a gate at this time. 😉

The Inari Foxes

Along the way, you will see plenty of stone statues depicting foxes.

The fox is considered a messenger of Inari. These foxes hold symbolic objects, usually a key to the granary in their mouth. But a sheaf of rice or a scroll is also common.

The 4 km walk to the top of mount Inari is easy enough and can be done in two to three hours.

Map of the 4 km pathway to mount Inari

It does get extremely hot during the summer months, and we were sweating like crazy during the climb. Thankfully you can stop at small shrines along the way, and also get some food and drinks at the small kiosks and vending machines.

There are a few restaurants along the way, which serve locally themed dishes such as Inari Sushi and Kitsune Udon (“Fox Udon”). Both of these contain pieces of aburaage (fried tofu), said to be the favorite food of foxes.

At the top awaits another shrine and the satisfaction of finally having reached the top! Yay!

Welcome Our New Companion

A couple of months ago in Hong Kong, we met up with another adventurer, one who we all know. That night, after quite a few beers, he agreed to come with us to Japan, as long as he could keep a low profile on the blog.

Well, we have finally managed to persuade him to step out and become a full-time member of the Nerd Nomads.

It is our great pleasure to officially welcome our newest member, Dr. Henry Walton “Indiana” Jones Jr! 🙂

Yay, Indy has joined the Nerd Nomads team! 🙂
Indiana Jones hot toys
Indiana Jones himself
Most of the photos in this blog post were actually taken by Indy! 😉

 So Is It Worth It?

Fushimi Inari Shrine
The Fushimi Inari Shrine is stunning!

Japan and especially Kyoto has many, many temples and shrines. There are many spectacular ones, but after a while, they can all start to look the same. The Fushimi Inari shrine is, however, a unique experience, as well as a lovely hike. We love it!


How Much Does Fushimi Inari Shrine Cost To Visit?

The Fushimi Inari Shrine is FREE!

Opening Hours of Fushimi Inari Shrine

It never closes, open all day and night.

How Long Time Does It Take To Walk Up To The Fushimi Inari Shrine?

It takes two to three hours to walk to the top of mount Inari and back down. You are however free to walk as far as you wish before turning back.

How To Get To Fushimi Inari Shrine

  • Train: Take the JR Nara Line from Kyoto railway station, two stops to JR Inari. It takes about 5 minutes. Free if you have a JR Pass, otherwise about 1,5USD each way. Obs, only local trains stop at JR Inari station.
  • Bus: Take the bus from Kyoto City Bus Stop. It takes 13 minutes and stops at Fushimi Inari Shrine.

Where To Stay In Kyoto

Kyoto has a lot of accommodation options to choose from in many different areas of Kyoto. Click here to read our complete guide to our favorite Kyoto areas and hotels.

Century Hotel Kyoto
We highly recommend this hotel, as we loved it! The best hotel we stayed at throughout our entire Japan trip!  

Century Hotel Kyoto
The beautiful lobby at Century Hotel Kyoto

The rooms are big and beautiful decorated, with huge comfortable beds. Great service from the staff and excellent location just next to Kyoto Train Station (100 m walk). You will love this hotel!
Click for latest prices

Hotel Mystays Kyoto Shijo
We stayed at Hotel Mystays in Tokyo and it was fantastic! Hotel Mystays is a business hotel chain. The rooms are not the biggest but have everything you need and more (even slippers!).

The location of Mystays Kyoto is perfect, close to Maruyama park and many shrines, and very close to a subway station (300 m) and bus stops. There is a good selection of restaurants nearby and there is a supermarket next to the hotel. It is a quiet hotel, and all rooms have good wifi. There is a laundry room with washing machines and a dryer and a coffee machine in the lobby that you can use for free.
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Karasuma Kyoto Hotel
A nice budget hotel centrally located with plenty of eating places within a short walk. It is within walking distance to the Gion area and to Nishiki market. Reasonably sized rooms (big for Japan) and have a small fridge and coffee/tea maker. The breakfast is delicious. The bathroom is fully equipped with all the necessary toiletries.

There is a Starbucks next to the hotel, and the hotel is close to a big supermarket, many restaurants, as well as bus stops and a subway station (2 stops from Kyoto Station). Take subway Karasuma Line to Shijo Station (exit 6).
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Travel Guides

We used Lonely Planet`s Japan Travel Guide on our trip. You can get that and other great books by clicking on the pictures below which will take you to (affiliate links):

Hover over the image below and press the red “Save” button to pin:


Have you been to the Fushimi Inari shrine? Or to any other cool shrine or temple? Please leave a comment in the comment area below! If you liked this post and found it useful, please share on social media! Thanks! 😀

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About The Writer Espen Egeland

Espen is a Norwegian travel nerd who started his independent travels at age 19 when he bought a one-way ticket to Indonesia in search of adventure. He has explored more than thirty countries across six continents, lived in Thailand and studied in Australia. He has a master's degree in computer science, but his true passion is photography, filmmaking, and sharing his love of travel. In 2014, while on a year-long trip across South - East Asia, he co-founded the travel blog Nerd Nomads. Since then he's been a full-time traveler. See our about page for more about Espen.


  1. Wow, what a neat place. I can imagine feeling dizzy with all those gates, but how cool. And, always open and free – two great features. Welcome to “Indy”

    • Yes, it was pretty cool Rhonda. We saw a lot of shrines and temples in Japan, and while they are spectacular this stood out cause it is so different. Definitely worth a visit, and it doesn’t hurt that it is free and always open either of course 😉

      Indy says hi! 🙂

    • Hi Anne!

      Yes, it’s really nice to walk around the shrine. And we really loved the hike up the mountain through all the thousands of gates 🙂

  2. What a cool place! Love how its set out, being able to hike up a mountain through 1000 gates! Love the culture and history behind it

    • Hi Adam!

      Yeah, I completely agree, the history and culture behind this is awesome. I love how it transformed into a place for securing luck in business, and how people keep buying gates. Over 4000 gates so far, and more added all the time!

  3. Not sure if you meant 2-3 hours complex or just one way up.. could you confirm? We only plan to spend 3 hours in this location then we have to head to the next one…


    • Hi Cristiano,

      We spent 2-3 hours altogether at this shrine, both ways. So three hours is perfect.

      Have a great trip to Fushimi Inari Shrine!


  4. Hi there!
    We are travelling to Japan for 2 weeks in November. Do you have any suggestion in which town we should stay for the Cultural day? We will be already in Tokyo for 3-4 days and so I would like to move but don’t want to miss out on anything.
    Also, do you recommend to buy the JR card, since we will be travelling probably all the places you have in your itinerary?
    Many thanks

    • Hi Barbora,

      We have never been to the Japanese Cultural Day 3rd of November, so I don`t know much about it I`m afraid. We visited Japan in July/ August.

      But it seems like there will be festivals and parades all over Japan on this day. The biggest parades and celebrations will probably be in the big cities like Tokyo and Kyoto, so it`s probably best to stick around in Tokyo for one more day if you can.

      Yes, I recommend that you buy a 14 day JR card before entering Japan. If you plan to travel around in Japan, a JR pass is a must! This pass is however only available for tourists, and can ONLY be bought outside of Japan! So remember to buy it before you go to Japan. Here are our tips and tricks on how to save money in Japan:

      Have an awesome trip to Japan! You will love this beautiful country!

  5. Very nice post! Would you please ask Indy if he knows the opening-closing hours for the shops in there? Thanks 🙂

    • Hi Daniel,

      Indy says that the shrine officially opens at 09:00 and closes at 17:00 but it’s technically open 24 hours. So I guess these are the opening and closing times for the shops as well.

      The best times to visit this shrine is, however, early morning and evening to avoid the tourists buses and the herds of people. The tourist buses are usually there between 11 and 16.

      Enjoy the thousand gates!


    • Thank you, Ankur! I can imagine that the temple and all the red gates can be pretty scary and spooky after dark…. 🙂 I am really afraid of spiders and the dark, so we had to visit during the day. 🙂


      • Hi Marleen,

        There are no problems getting back to Kyoto in the evening, also after 7 pm. The train stop JR Inari is just an ordinary stop so there are plenty of local trains running by. You can also take the bus back to Kyoto.

        Have a great time at the Fushimi Inari Shrine!


  6. Hi guys, great write-up! I used to live next to Fushimi Inari, and I just want to give you and your readers a tip – you actually missed the best viewpoint at the top! From the midway intersection, you can go left up the short, steep steps to a little sub-shrine at the top and you can go round behind the shrine to find the mountain’s best view.



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