Being one of the most imposing and memorable highlights in Kyoto, Fushimi Inari Taisha is a must-see destination. Spread across the densely forested slopes of the sacred Inari-san, seemingly never-ending galleries of red torii gates line the winding pathways up the mountain, connecting the sub-shrines. Each torii is marked by the name of its donor, with some costing as much as 1 million yen.
Founded in 711, the Shinto shrine is the head shrine of Inari Ōkami, the god of rice, fertility, tea, agriculture, and sake. Kitsune (fox) statues, revered as the messengers of Inari, can be seen scattered throughout the shrine grounds. A pair of foxes stand guard at the main gate, one holding a sacred jewel representing the fox’s spirit, the other holding a key to the rice granary.
Many contend that a visit to Fushimi Inari Taisha is not complete without the 4-kilometre journey up and around the mountain. Whilst the upper precincts of the shrine boast less of the magnificent vermilion torii, the miniature sub-shrines, graveyards, and teahouses (all adorned with the ubiquitous kitsune statues) are just as magical to explore. Admission is free and the shrine grounds are open to the public around the clock.
At the main entrance to Fushimi Inari Taisha, you can find vendors selling street food such as takoyaki (dough balls filled with diced octopus), yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), taiyaki (fish-shaped cakes filled with red bean paste) and sticks of mitarashi dango (grilled mochiko dumplings covered in a sweet soy sauce glaze).
How to get to Fushimi Inari Shrine:
To get to Fushimi Inari Shrine, take the Keihan Main Line from Kyoto to Fushimi-Inari Station, or the JR Nara Line to Inari Station. The shrine is a quick 3-minute walk from either station.
FUSHIMI INARI TAISHA
68 Fukakusa Yabunouchicho
Fushimi-ku, Kyoto 612-0882
Kyoto Prefecture, Japan