Fushimi Inari-taisha, or the Fushimi Inari Shrine, is a very important Shinto shrine located in the southern area of Kyoto in Japan. The shrine is well-known for its thousands of red torii gates that line a the various trails behind the main buildings. The network of trails lead visitors into the woods of the sacred Mount Inari. This sacred mountain belongs to the grounds of the important shrine, and stands at a height of two hundred and thirty-three meters.
Fushimi Inari-taisha is the most significant of the several thousand shrines dedicated to the Shinto god of rice, Inari. Foxes are considered to be the messengers of Inari, which is why guests will see numerous fox statues throughout the grounds of the important shrine. The shrine has its origins back during ancient times, predating the move of the capital of Japan in the year 794 to Kyoto.
The main reason why the majority of foreign visitors visit Fushimi Inari-taisha is to explore the shrine buildings and the trails on the mountain. The Romon Gate stands at the entrance to the Fushimi Inari Shrine, and was donated by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a famous leader of Japan, in the year 1589. Behind the gate is the main hall of the shrine, where guests can pay respect to the shrine’s resident deity in the form of a small offering.
At the back of the main grounds of the Fushimi Inari Shrine is the entrance to the hiking trail that is covered by the torii gate. The trail begins with two parallel, dense rows of gates that are called Senbon Torii, or thousands of torii gates. Each of these torii gates along the length of the trail were donated by companies and individuals. Visitors can see the name of the donator, as well as the date of donation, inscribed into the back of each of the torii gates.
The walk to the mountain’s summit and back typically takes around two to three hours. Visitors don’t have to walk the entire way to the summit, however, and can walk back down whenever they wish. Along the walk, visitors will see many smaller shrines featuring stacks of tiny torii gates that were also donated. A handful of restaurants are also located along the trail to the summit of Mount Inari. These places offer dishes themed to the shrine, such as Kitsune Udon or “Fox Udon,” and Inari Sushi.
Visitors will arrive at the Yotsutsuji intersection about half way to the summit of Mount Inari. This intersection is reached after around thirty to forty-five minutes of ascending the mountain. Visitors will also notice a gradual decrease in the density of the shrine’s torii gates. Some great views of the city of Kyoto can be found at this spot on the trail. It’s also where the hiking trail splits to create a circular route up to the summit. A large amount of people stop at the Yotsutsuji intersection as there’s not much variation in the trails after this point. The density of torii gates also further decreases.
68 Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, Kyoto, Japan, Phone: 81-7-56-41-95-73-31