As I walk from the Fushimi Inari shrine to the top of the 233 meter 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 close together that even the sunlight has a hard time getting through. They form a glowing red tunnel that winds itself up the narrow mountain path.
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 Fuj shrine is the head shrine for over 30 000 Inari shrines all over Japan. It’s 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 it’s stark red colour 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.
The Walk Through A Thousand Torii Gates
So 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 insure 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 gods good side.
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 consider a messenger of Inari. These foxes hold symbolic objects, usually a the 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.
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 to step out, and become a full time member of the Nerd Nomads.
It is our great please to officially welcome our newest member, Dr. Henry Walton “Indiana” Jones Jr!
So Is It Worth It?
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 an unique experience, and a nice hike as well.
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How much does it cost?
The Fushimi Inari Shrine is FREE!
Opening Hours: It never closes
How long time does it take?
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 there?
- 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
1. We stayed at Century Hotel Kyoto
We highly recommend this hotel, as it was awesome!! The best hotel we stayed at throughout our Japan trip! Big beautiful rooms, huge comfortable bed, great service from the staff and excellent location just next to Kyoto Train Station (100 m). You will love this hotel!
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Hotel Mystays Kyoto Shijo
We stayed at Hotel Mystays in Tokyo and loved it! 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 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 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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We used the Lonely Planet`s Japan travel guide on our trip. You can get that and other great books by clicking on the pictures below:
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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