This shrine at the base of Inari Mountain is dedicated to the goddess of rice and prosperity. See its thousands of red gates around a network of beautiful trails.
The Fushimi Inari Shrine was founded in 711 and is the head shrine for the 40,000 shrines to Inari, goddess of rice and prosperity, in Japan. Worshippers come here to ask for wealth and success in business, and travellers come to enjoy the beauty and history of the area.
Although the shrine buildings are attractive and well worth the visit, many visitors come just to explore the surrounding area. The mountain trails around the shrine have torii gates (Japanese temple gates) the whole way along. These gates are donated by individuals and companies and each has the donator’s name and the date of the donation inscribed on the back. Ascend through paths so thick with gates they take on a tunnel-like appearance. Lanterns light the way on gloomy days. Stone shrines, carvings, waterfalls and ponds feature along the paths, making the trails a great place for photography.
Foxes, believed to be the messengers of Inari, feature heavily at this temple, which is one of Kyōto’s free historic attractions. Look out for the bronze statues of these animals throughout the site; some hold the keys to the rice stores in their jaws.
The return trip to the peak of the mountain takes between two to three hours, but it’s worth giving yourself more time to stop at one of the restaurants on the way to sample udon (noodle), fried tofu and sushi with hot tea or a cup of saké. There are even stalls selling charms.
If you decide to hike right to the mountain’s peak, you’ll be rewarded with views over Kyōto, and the higher you climb the thinner the crowds get. It’s worth hanging around until dusk too, when the lanterns come on, lending the scene a magical quality.
The shrine is open every day, and is close to the train station JR Inari on the JR Nara Line.