Fushimi Inari Taisha

68 Fukakusa Yabunouchichō, Fushimi-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 612-0882, Japan

Fushimi Inari Taisha on Inariyama mountain is dedicated to the Shinto gods of rice and sake, but Inari is also the god of merchants and that brings a lot of businesspeople to worship here. Everyone else stops by to see the thousands of vermilion torii, or gates (each of which is funded by a Japanese company). They lead to the main shrine, which was built in 1499. Walking underneath the gates is like passing through a fiery tangerine tunnel, and visitors leave behind tiny torii replicas as part of their prayer.

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The Great Fushimi Inari Taisha

As soon as you step off the train at Inari Station you’ll see the huge orange tori gates at the entrance of the thousand gates shrine, Fushimi Inari Taisha. The shrine winds up Inari mountain and you can spend hours hiking through the woods beneath the elegant orange gates.

A visit to Fushimi Inari shrine

My first glimpse of Fushimi Inari was from the movie Memoirs of a Geisha. Yes, I admit it. I was smitten by the scene of Chiyo running along the Shinto shrine’s paths surrounded by vermilion torii, or gates. I had a chance to visit on a brisk, sunny, winter day in January 2009. The Fushimi Inari shrine is a quick train ride two stops south of Kyoto Station on the JR Nara line. I traveled solo, and my ascent through the shrine’s paths and up Inari mountain brought warmth to my fingers and toes, and respite from the crowds at the base. I spent hours exploring and snapping photos of torii and stone foxes. Despite opportunities to return and visit Fushimi Inari, I have not. I can’t bring myself to let go of my first impressions and treasured memories of the winter day I spent there. On my ascent, the unmarked sides of the torii imbued an inward serenity to my walk. On the descent, those same torii, now marked with the names, dates, and wishes of their donors, were a humble reminder that I am only one among many in this world, each of us desiring happiness, love, health, and prosperity.

Fushimi Inari Shrine

I am glad I didn’t read too much about Fushimi Inari before my visit. Had I understood just how vast it was, I may not have undertaken the climb all the way to the top and felt lost among the endless torii gates. Had I known there were several thousand of those gates, I may not have endeavored to count them all on my way back down. I made it to 1,941.

Torii Galore

1300 orange torii gates greet you at the Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine. The gates are placed one after the other creating a tunnel effect that wind around the area. Many gates are falling apart and feral cats weave their way through them. This place kept me in awed silence as I meandered through it. Sincerely zen and exquisite.

Walk Through the Fushimi Inari Orange Gates

Located a short train ride from Kyoto is the Fushimi Inari temple complex, built in the 8th century to the gods of rice and sake. It sits near the Inari train station and is accessible by foot. The path, lined with orange torii (the orange gates), wanders for about 4 km up the mountainside. Give yourself a couple of hours to enjoy and explore. Before leaving Inari, try the inarizushi, a pouch of fried tofu filled with sushi rice. My favorite spot to try this is Nezameya, open since 1540 on the main street alongside restaurants and gift shops. You’ll see a small window on the street that opens up to a man making the inarizushi.

A Thousand Orange Gates

Fushimi Inari is well worth the hike. The shrine gates are directly across from the train station and you can spend hours hiking beneath the orange torii. The hike to the top of Inari mountain can take a few hours, but even if you don’t make it to the top there’s plenty to see along the way.

The Orange Torii of Fushimi Inari

It should come as no surprise that we all come away with the same photographs of Fushimi-Inari in Kyoto. The tangerine orange toriis dipped in black stand along the mountainside like dominos. In some places the torii are lined so closely together you feel like you are tunneling through a canopy of orange brush. You can’t help but take a picture as it lends itself to being so photogenic. We went on a cool fall day and saw workers working on one of the torii. The wood had been stripped and they were applying the bright orange laquered paint. I couldn’t help but wonder, irreverently, if there was a special paint code they had to recall at the local hardware store. This is serious business though and you can see in the deliberateness of their efforts the desire to honor the families who have built the torii. Trails abound Fushimi-Inari and if you work your way two hours upwards you are granted with a view of downtown Kyoto. There’s a small seated area with benches around the lookout and vending machines with drinks, including my favorite electrolytic delight, Pocari Sweat. Take a seat. You might need to. The grade of the trail is more significant than one expects but the views of the city and the oranged countryside are very much worth the effort.

Climbing through gates of orange in the rain

The highlight of our visit to the Fushimi Inari shrine, was the walk through and under the thousands of toriis or gates that lead up from the entrance to the peak of Inari mountain. There are over ten thousand of these and they make for a spectacular trek. Unfortunately, we turned back halfway, driven by the rain and the impending arrival of our train to Nara. The full trek may have to wait for later. The flame colored toriis make for a wonderful sight as they wind their way up Inari mountain, and walking through them in the rain was a somewhat surreal experience. The path tends to fork into two sets of tunnels depending on the topography, and comes together again multiple times at several rest stops as you climb the mountain. The entire structure reminded me of ”The Gates” display by Christo in New York in early 2005. As it turns out, “The Gates” was inspired by the torii-lined pathway in Fushimi Inari. While pilgrims walked through the toriis in Japan praying for success and wealth, visitors in another country and cultural space walked through their version of the orange gates, absorbing the effect of a cultural and artistic import. Art really does inspire art across hundreds of years and thousands of miles and I had come full circle.

Temples and a Great View

Growing up, I had always seen pictures of Fushimi Inari Taisha so when I stood at the entrance in real life, I felt instantly inspired. I arrived around nine in the morning on a Saturday and there were already tourists here. If you can, definitely try to get there even earlier for a more tranquil experience. Also plan at least two or three hours here, as there is so much to see and do. I chose to talk all the way to the highest point, passing thousands of mini shrines and temples along the way. About three-fourths of the way up, there is a nice view of downtown Kyoto and a few benches perfect for an afternoon picnic. More on Bohemian Trails.

A magical walk through Japanese torii

Torii are Japanese gates commonly found at Shinto shrines. Most shrines use them as an entrance, but Fushimi Inari Taisha uses them to line the entire walkway of the temple grounds. Thousands of red gates in a range of sizes create an impressive canopy as you make your way to the inner shrine. While this temple is beautiful during the day, it is truly impressive at night when lanterns cast a magical glow and shadows dance between the pillars. Unlike other shrines in Kyoto, the gates to this shrine do not have a closing time, making this a great evening spot for exploring.

Best Kept Japan Culture in Kyoto

You haven’t seen Japan if you haven’t been to Kyoto, this was a realization I had after coming back from a two week Japan Golden Week immersion. Kyoto prefecture stands out among all regions in Japan for its lovely temples, local markets, the Geisha, Gion, couldn’t imagine Japan history culture without Kyoto. Read more of my trip at - htt://saventravel.blogspot.sg/2014/04/japan-golden-week-kyoto-12.html

Kyoto's Most Enchanting Shrine

Fushimi Inari Taisha is my favorite of all the Kyoto temples and shrines. From most tourist parts of Kyoto, take a train ride south on the Keihan line to the Fushimi-Inari Station, exit and follow the signs. A 3-mile trail cuts through Fushimi Inari, beneath thousands of orange torii (donated by businesses and individuals), past stone foxes (the messenger of Inari, the god of cereals), graveyards and miniature shrines. I found the hike to be of the ideal duration (one and a half hours at a clip) and difficulty (I stopped to catch my breath a few times). The scenery, however, was so varied and fascinating, the trek hardly felt like exercise. Go early in the morning to avoid the crowds who will mess up your photos.

Kyoto's Hypnotic Fushimi Inari-taisha

Past thousands of hypnotic torii (Shinto shrine gates) at Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine in southeast Kyoto, a four-kilometer mountain path leads to a wooded summit overlooking small shrines below and the Gion entertainment and geisha district beyond. The head shrine of some 40,000 Inari shrines scattered throughout Japan was dedicated to the gods of rice and sake in the 8th century. More recently, Inari also is seen by the Japanese as the patron of business, traditionally worshipped by merchants and manufacturers. Each neon orange torii gate at Fushimi Inari Taisha is donated by a Japanese business. Amidst the stunning shrine complex, dozens of stone foxes guard the wooded slopes of Inari-yama. Considered the messenger of Inari, the fox is seen by the Japanese as a sacred, mysterious creature, often depicted holding the key to the rice granary.

Hike to the Top of Inari Mountain Through Thousands of Torii Gates to the Inner Shrine

Thousands of bright orange torii lead to the inner shrine of Fushimi Inari-taisha at the top of Inari mountain. The hike takes about two hours so be sure to leave yourself plenty of time. Even if you don’t make it all the way to the top, there is plenty to see along the way.

Walk to the Top

The thousands of orange torii gates at the Fushimi Inari Taisha--a Shinto shrine dating back more than a thousand years--are worth a visit. Skip the market stalls and head straight for the top of Mount Inari (but be prepared for a bit of a hike). The steep trek to the summit results in a bit more seclusion to admire the beautiful scenery, especially if you go very early or late in the day.

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