The Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, with its instantly recognisable path of Torii gates, is one of the most iconic shrines in all of Japan and a visit to the beautiful site is an essential stop on any Kyoto itinerary. The Fushimi Inari Shrine is comprised of thousands of bright red Torii gates meandering gently up the Inari hillside in Kyoto and is an instantly identifiable Japan landmark. We visited the Fushimi Inari shrine on a recent trip to Kyoto and were in awe of its beauty and uniqueness.
Fushimi Inari Shrine
The Fushimi Inari Shrine was originally dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. It is the head shrine of over 30,000 smaller Inari shrines located throughout Japan. In early Japan Inari was seen as the patron of business, hence many businesses and merchants have worshipped here over the years, with businesses and individuals donating each of the torii gates.
Today over 5,000 vibrant red Torii gates line the walkway which meanders through the hillside forest at the foot on Mount Inari.
Visiting Fushimi Inari
Passengers exiting from the JR Inari train station are greeted with the colourful entrance to the shrine. The shrine starts at the bottom of Mount Inari and the path meanders up the mountain side. The hike to the top and back takes around 3 hours but most visitors don’t actually go to the top. – the Torii gates become more sparse closer to the summit so most turn back.
Fushimi Inari Shrine tip: Aim to spend anywhere from 3 to 4 hours at Fushimi Inari. Trust us, the time will fly by and there’s a bit of waiting involved if you want to capture pics without the crowds.
Where to stay in Kyoto
- Hotel Granvia Kyoto: this hotel could not have a better location – it’s in the actual Kyoto JR station with super quick access to the trains and the rest of the city. A modern hotel with comfortable western style rooms, a fitness centre and swimming pool, there are lots of food options in and around the station. This is our number one pick for where to stay in Kyoto – check latest prices here!
- Hotel Kintetsu Kyoto Station: Another great hotel located within Kyoto JR station too. Hotel Kintetsu is slight cheaper than Hotel Granvia, however it is still a great choice with decently sized western style rooms and beds – check latest prices here!
- Ibis Kyoto Station: The Ibis is a great value option and, it’s so close to Kyoto station, you can catch a glimpse of the hotel from the Shinkansen platform! – check latest prices here!
Kyoto sightseeing tip: Kyoto Station is the perfect location for a Kyoto stay as most visitors arrive and depart from Kyoto station and sights such as the Bamboo Forest and Fushimi Inyari Shrine are just a few minutes train journey away.
Entering the Shrine
Upon entering the shrine and passing along the walkway the first stop is the water purification basins which are used by worshippers to purify themselves before approaching the main Shinto Shrine. The Romon Gate stands at the shrine’s entrance sand is the the main gate tower known as the Plum Blossom Gate. Behind the perfectly immaculate Haiden, the outer hall of worship, is the Honden, the most sacred building of the complex which houses the sacred body of Inari.
The Foxes at Fushimi Inari
One of the first statues which greets visitors at the entrance to the shrine is that of a large fox holding a key in its mouth and there are many fox statues dotted around the shrine. Foxes are considered Inari’s messengers and the shrine houses statues of foxes carrying items such as keys, jewels and scrolls in their mouth.
Senbon Torii: The 5,000 Torii Gates
The magnificent sight of the thousands of Torii Gates is what draws most tourists to Fushmi Inari and the path to the top of the shrine is lined with over 5,000 stunning red Torii gates. The sheer number of gates is a breathtaking vision and, despite the crowds which flock to visit and worship at the shrine, the walk to the summit is very peaceful. At times it’s even possible to find yourself alone on the path with only the sound of the trees creaking in the wind as you move through the beautiful red and black Torii gates. It’s a very spiritual experience and the contrast of the bright red gates against the lush green forest only adds to the experience. At times the Torii gates seem to go on forever, flowing down the hillside between the trees as the shrine carves its way through the woods.
Our walk through the Senbon Toriin was one of our favourite experiences in Japan!