There are so many shrines to visit in Kyoto, and if you only have a short trip to Kyoto like we did, which one should you go? If you have one fine sunny day, put Fushimi Inari Shrine as your first priority. You won’t regret visiting this unique and beautiful shrine with literally thousands of Tori gates lined up close together covering miles of pathways wandering through beautiful hillsides.
I first came about this place by watching Memoirs of a Geisha. I always see beautiful picture of the shrine during my reseach in the internet, however, during my recent visit to Kyoto, I was really not prepared for how incredible a thousand torii gates together would be… It’s a beautiful walk and an absolute must see! We just had a short time to visit it but I wished having spent more time here. It’s really a unique Kyoto experience: stunning, serene & very very tranquil. I really adore the atmosphere, the colours, the landscape of this place.. very Japanesque in my opinion.
If you planned to visit this shrine, my advice is to do yourself a favour and go early morning to beat the crowds.. We were there around 10am during a weekday, and the place already full with crowd hanging around the shrine. At the beginning of the torii gates line, it was full of people, so the photos were quite cluttered. Almost impossible to catch a picture without anyone though. However, after walking on, you will see a lower set of Torii gates and the colors are more vibrant. We had a few quicks moments of the paths being empty and I managed to capture a few photos without anyone else in them!
The pathways up the hill are just incredible. The further you go up, the less crowd you will see, and more magical atmosphere. If you have the legs for it, you can climb up the entire mountain to the summit. From what I read, the density of the tori gates slowly reduce as you ascend and halfway there is a nice spot overlooking kyoto. Since we had very limited time, plus my sister can’t climb that much, we just go up few blocks of the torii gates before returning back to the downhill. Other than the torii gates, the ground of the shrine itself was nice to explore. Even with the halfway trail, we spent almost two hours in the area, admiring the beauty of the whole place.
Located at the south of Kyoto, this shrine is easily accessible via JR station Inari, just 2 stop from Kyoto Station by using the JR nara line. So, if you are using the JR pass, you can use it to visit this place. The shrine entrance is very close to the JR station Inari, actually just outside the train station so you can’t really get lost. You had to walk about 200m from the entrance before you reached the shrine. The streets heading to fushimi inari shrine are also full of shops and small local restaurants. One of the things I like about this place is unlike the rest, there is no admission fee.
As overall, visiting the Fushimi Inari Shrine was one of the highlight for my recent Kyoto trip. Kyoto has a lot of temples and though they are fantastic you can get a bit “templed out”. That is why Fushimi Inari Shrine is a good variance to your sight seeing.