Travel

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto is probably one of the most famous sights with its many red shrine gates.

Actually this was not my first time going to Fushimi Inari Shrine. My first visit was in September 2007.
That was before I had moved to Japan permanently. Still it was one of my favorite memories of Japan back then.
Since then, I’ve been back to Fushimi Inari several times dragging along family and friends. And they all loved it there.

So, let me drag you along as well! :)

Visited: November 3rd 2011

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

The shrine is just a short walk from JR Inari Station or Keihan Fushimiinari Station. It’s really easy to find. The first thing you’ll see is the main gate at the entrance of Fushimi Inari Shrine.

As I went there on a national holiday there were a lot of people. Well, actually I think with the recent tourist boom it’s almost always crowded nowadays. 2011 was still different as it was before said boom.

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

In November there is a festival called “7-5-3 Day” (七五三, shichi-go-san) which is for kids aged 3, 5 or 7. They visit shrines with their families wearing beautiful kimonos.
Of course I ran into some of them on my way. So cute!

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

This is in front of the main shrine. But don’t just stop there. There’s a lot more to discover.

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

Inari Shrine Symbols: Fox statues and red gates

All “Inari” shrines, Fushimi Inari Shrine being the biggest in Japan, worship the god “Inari”.
Although it’s mainly Shinto (the original Japanese religion) shrines that worship that deity, there are also some Buddhist temples that do.
More than one-third of all Shinto shrines in Japan are dedicated to Inari.

Inari shrines can usually be identified by fox statues and red gates.
In the photo above you see one of the many “kitsune” (fox) statues at Fushimi Inari Shrine.
The foxes are said to be messengers of the god “Inari”.
By the end of this blog entry you’ll hopefully understand how big the biggest Inari Shrine actually is.

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

The main symbol of Fushimi Inari Shrine: the red gates – here the mini version of it. They are used as ema.

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

Fushimi Inari Shrine is famous for its 20398429* million red gates. (*Yes, I counted them all!)
Some movies were shot there as well. One of the most well-known movies is “Memoirs of a Geisha“.

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

A picture inside the red gates like the one above is something you must do when you’re there. On crowded days (= most of the days) it’s really hard to take a photo without any people, though.

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

Once you get through the first larger section of red gates, you reach another small shrine. Most people stop here if they don’t have much time and then go back.

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

These wooden wishing plaques are interesting. You can draw the face of the fox yourself and on the back you write your wish.

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

There are like 100 spots where you can stop and pray. However, you shouldn’t be allergic to red gates or you’re in serious trouble.

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

Alcohol and some filled sweet tofu “bags”, also known as “Inari-zushi“. The latter is said to be the favorite dish of the fox deity.

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

Going deeper into the forest. If you want to you can spend there almost a whole day!

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

You can escape the red gates going left and right as there are also smaller shrines in the forest, like the one above.

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

Not only red gates, but also a lot of bigger and smaller stone gates are everywhere.

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

All of the gates have kanji on them. That’s because they were donated and so they have their donator’s name (often companies) on them.
Some of them seem to be quite old already.
Or the cats have been eating them? Can you spot the cat in above photo?

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

The coolest thing I found at Fushimi Inari Shrine was this fox pond where you can wash your hands and mouth before praying.

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

And here we go again, deeper and higher!

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

Like I mentioned earlier there are REALLY millions of smaller shrines!

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

Too many red gates and fox statues already? Then you really underestimated Fushimi Inari Shrine!! We’re not quite there yet!

Aren’t they interesting, though? I really love taking close-ups of them!

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

Another fox statue and even more small red gates. By the way, you can buy the smaller red gates (actually smaller than the ones on the photo) as souvenir!

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

Back at the Yotsutsuji intersection there were cool drinks for people in need. Quite cool setting up the drinks like that!

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

From the intersection you have such a lovely view.
Most people manage to go as far as that and then go back.

As you can see in all the photos above I took the whole loop tour (takes about 40 minutes). There are some bigger shrines on the way where you can get seals for your shrine seal book, too.
It is quite a walk and if you’re short on time then better skip it. I had to give up somewhere around the intersection when I first visited in summer 2007 because it was just far too hot.
Now, many years later in November, it had just the right temperature.

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

On my way back I ran into a few more stray cats. So adorable.

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

I took a different route back down to the main shrine and so I ran into yet some more smaller shrines.

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

Very colorful stone statues.

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

Almost back down again, I discovered this army of mini fox statues!! (O__O”) …

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

One last shot and I left Fushimi Inari Shrine to go to the 3rd destination of that day.

First I visited Momoyama Castle, then I headed to Fushimi Inari Shrine.
At last I went to Tofukuji.
You can easily visit all three in one day – probably even more as I started my journey quite late that day.

Tourist Information:
Opening Hours:
always open
Holidays:
none
Entrance fee:
free
Time required:
30-90 mins (depending on how far you want to go)
Contact:
612-0882 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Fushimi-ku, Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, 68 // TEL: +(81) 75-641-7331
Access:
From Kyoto Station take a train. Take the JR Nara Line and get off at “Inari Sta.” (2 mins walk) or take the Keihan Main Line and get off at “Fushimi-inari Sta.” (6 mins walk). You can also take the Minami 5 Bus Line, but I don’t recommend taking buses in Kyoto as they’re usually too crowded and also delayed. If you’re a larger group, you might not fit into the bus and have to wait for the next one.
Please note: Prices as well as opening hours / holidays are subject to change. Please make sure to follow the provided link to the official website to check out the latest updates.

39 Comments

  • I love Fushimi Inari, especially the higher parts where there’s barely any people. I use it also to stock up on travel charms. Supposedly the fox appeared somewhere near Tokyo with this key and shortly after in Kyoto and that’s why there’s tons of travel charms there. I have the key necklace which I only wear when traveling and a small charm for my purse. So far I can’t complain, working well :)

    Btw. I saw tons of cats when I was there for the first time (also autumn) but none when I was there with my mother (late December). I wonder where they disappear to!

    • Me, too! So I didn’t mind going a second time. I wouldn’t mind going a third, fourth etc. time either! :hihi:

      I bought a travel lucky charm and a “find a partner” lucky charm there, too! :satisfied:
      Not the most beautiful lucky charms, though!

      That’s interesting. So it seems they escape when it’s too hot (summer) or too cold (winter)??!! :huh:

      • I should make a post about those charms at one point :) You’re right, they are not pretty, but so far I can’t say that they don’t work :)

        Would make sense: Hot –> Sleeping somewhere in the shade, Cold –> Sleeping somewhere warm?

        I have so many cute cat pictures (kittens!) from my first time at Inari. Now that I think about it, I did see cats on my second visit too. My mother even bought one :)

        • I should post about them, too! I have like … 100-200 by now?!? :ehehe:
          I’ve already taken home quite a few when I visited Germany last time, though.

          I have a really beautiful and awesome travel lucky charm (not sure from where – am too lazy to check right now). It works well, too, apart from the “good weather” part :hum:

          *LOL* Somehow I completely missed those! I was more after the real ones :hihi:

  • By the way, never pick up a charm that you find somewhere. Unless you bring it to a shrine right away (they usually have places for discarded charms). Worst luck ever. We tried to leave Toyota (the city not the car company) for 3 hours and where going in circles! We stopped at the first shrine after we realized our misery and left it there. Next thing you know we’re finally out of that damn city :)

    Driving by car btw, I think cursing a train to drive in circles would be more difficult.

    • Really?
      That’s interesting! I didn’t know about that! Then again I probably wouldn’t pick up a charm anyways.
      Good to know for the future, thanks for sharing!
      Maybe I already did in the past – I just can’t remember.
      That would explain my bad luck with weather! :(

  • Oooh this is one I would definitely want to visit. *kinda have a thing for foxes*
    Wah these shrines are so well preserved (and there’s so many little ones)~
    Do they have a neko shrine as well??

    • That’s a good question.
      I found some mini shrines for cats, yes, but I’m sure they cannot be compared to the Inari shrines!
      There are no really big and famous cat shrines as far as I know. There should be, because I would visit!!!! :kyah:

    • I was there on January 3rd and it was crowded but manageable. Especially if you went a bit up the mountain the crowds thinned out quite a lot. If you don’t want to buy any charms and just walk up through the torii you should be fine. Those doing hatsumode aren’t really interested in walking far.

      There’s a tiny cat shrine on Tashirojima.

      • I’d not go then. I would want to buy lucky charms, get my seals and have a good sight on the main shrine buildings as well!
        If there are other things in Kyoto you wanna see, then I suggest going there instead.
        If you really care a lot about Fushimi Inari, then dare it and go there! :D

        I always wanted to go to Tashirojima. I wish I already knew about it when I visited Fukushima Prefecture in 2008 :( …

  • I’m thinking of including Fushimi Inari Shrine in my trip to Kansai next month but I think it will be crowded with so many tourists since it’s still holiday. I want to walk through those red gates! Would it still be advisable to go there on January 2?

    This post made me remember a shrine in Matsumoto near Jorinji, with red gates and fox statues and looked like a mini version of Fushimi Inari Shrine.. :D

    • Seriously, don’t go!!! :huh:
      At the beginning of January, esp. January 1st-3rd people visit shrines to do their “Hatsumode” (the first shrine visit of the year).
      Especially big shrines are often super, super, SUPER crowded!
      I’ve been to a smaller one a bit outside of Tokyo once and there was a line of people of about 2km!!!!
      I can imagine that you can’t even enter the shrine grounds properly on that day (though I don’t know for sure)!

      If you want to exerpience “hatsumode”, then go, but you’ll waste a lot of time just standing in line! :stressed:

      Sure! There are many Inari shrines out there, so it’s not surprising at all that you run into smaller ones here and there! And they’re always so easy to spot with the red gates and the fox statues! ^-^
      I personally like Hachimangu and Tenmangu shrines a bit better, though. :luvit:

  • I’ll take your word for it. Thanks! It’s a worry to be caught up in the flood of people going for their Hatsumode.

    So I guess I’ll just stroll in Gion after going to Nara and hope to see a geisha/maiko. What time do you think is the best time to spot them on the streets?

    • I’m pretty sure it’s better if you avoid going! :)

      Oh, I miss Nara!! ^-^
      Hm, actually that’s what I want to know, too!
      First of all, most of the geisha/maiko you’ll see there are just dressed up tourists!! (also Japanese tourists)
      There are a lot of dress-up studios in Kyoto, especially in Gion.
      Me and my friends were also asked by tourists if they can take a photo of us when we were dressed up, not noticing that we weren’t Japanese until we told them XD
      … which is strange, because they should have noticed when seeing our noses ;P

      Sorry, I cannot give you a satisfying answer :(

  • I am one of those people who give up about half way up [surfeit of gates, shrines…] but I always like those foxes. The last ones looked like hello kitty, maybe hello foxy? Lol.

    Those cats are interesting. Then again, I am partial to cats.

    I noticed what you said about Japanese women and high heels. Their feet must hurt at the end of the day. Then again, are their feet tougher than ours? I will note though that once in Germany, where people are normally quite sensible about hiking shoes, etc., I saw a young woman hiking up some mountain to a castle, wearing high heeled white sandals, just about the worst footwear I could imagine for it.

    • Really?
      I’m exactly the opposite of you then. Although I often don’t have the time, I want to go all the way up and explore everything there is. I always think “You came all that way and it might be your only chance, so don’t miss anything.” :ehehe:

      Actually my feet hurt just by LOOKING at them!! :huh:
      *LOL* In Germany? Haha, I guess you can find those people anywhere, but honestly Japanese girls care way too much about looks. At least when hiking they should think about convenience!
      Recently “mountain girl” is a fashion “style” that has become quite popular (not sure if that’s the correct term), so they brought out some cute, but convenient / functional hiking wear for young women :thumbup:

  • If I ever visit Japan, this is definitely one of the places I’d be wanting to go to. I love foxes! They tie with cats for my favorite animal, and I’ve loved them the longest.

    • I’m not that much into foxes, but I have to admit that I really adore the fox statues.
      I just wish they had the same amount of cat shrines in Japan!
      I’d probably never leave then! :hihi:

  • Hallo :ehehe:

    Ich habe nun endlich mal Zeit gefunden, um deinen Blog anzuschauen.
    Du hast ein wahnsinnig tolles layout!!! Ich bin sehr neidisch.
    Hatte auch schon überlegt mir eine eigene Domain und webseite zu machen – leider kann ich ausser Bilder und links einfügen nicht viel mehr mit HTML basteln.. :disappointed:
    Kann man sich so etwas beibringen??

    Ach ich schweife ab.. Wollte sagen, schöne Fotos und toll geschriebene Beiträge.
    Ich liebe den Fushimi Inari Schrein mit den ganzen Toren.. War ja auch gerade dort mit meinem Leih-Kimono.. :hihi:

    Nach dem ersten Blick auf deine Site (wieder ein Sprung im Thema zurück..) dachte ich du schreibst schon seit Jahren, aber merke jetzt erst, dass der Blog noch ganz frisch ist..
    However— Viel Glück weiterhin!

    Liebe grüße vom Frosch, der vor Neid ganz grün geworden ist. :teary:

    • Hallo Frosch!
      Freu mich sehr, dass du hier kommentierst!!! :D

      Freut mich sehr, dass dir das Layout gefällt! Hat auch Ewigkeiten gedauert (ein halbes Jahr meines Lebens einfach futsch!!! :whyohwhy: ) …
      Und damit auch gleich zu deiner Frage: Ja, man kann, aber wenn man von nichts ne Ahnung hat (so wie ich) dauert es Ewigkeiten!!!!!! … und man muss sich dann wirklich überlegen, ob es einem das wert ist.
      Ich bin mir da selber noch nicht ganz sicher. Wird sich noch zeigen müssen, denke ich. :hum:

      Ich war damals mit Leih-Kimono in Gion unterwegs! Würde das gerne mal wieder machen :D

      Naja, eigentlich schreibe ich ja schon seit Jahren, aber bisher halt nicht auf meiner eigenen Domain. Ich lebe seit 4 Jahren in Japan und blogge auch schon so lange darüber, aber jetzt habe ich mich quasi endlich selbständig gemacht :hihi:
      Eine eigene Domain gibt einem einfach viel mehr Freiheiten!

      *lol* Grün vor Neid, Frosch .. ja, ne, is klar! :happy:

      Vielen Dank!!
      Ich werde demnächst mit Jobsuche und Umzug beschäftigt sein, aber ich versuche, das Ding hier am Laufen zu halten!! :peace:

  • Let me just say that your site is beautiful lol.

    Also I love the pictures! I want to go to Fushimi Inari in 2012, maybe during golden week. Ugh but that will be so busy! Well, until I can make it, thanks for the virtual tour.

    • Hey, Amanda! :D
      Thank you so much! :heart:

      I suppose it will be crowded during Golden Week. Then again there are so many other great places to visit in Kyoto, that it’s not such a big problem.
      Fushimi Inari is spacious, so even if there are tons of people, it’s ok, I guess.
      I hope you can go there this year! :thumbup:

  • That’s one of my favorite places on earth. There’s a soba shop half-way up the mountain that’s perched on the edge of a hill. Great place to get your relax on.

    I’ve also hiked quite a bit off the main trail there, and of course, knowing me, on one occasion got hopelessly lost. I was pretty sure I was going to have to sleep in the forest. It’s spooky up there once the sun goes down. Still, if you have the time, I’d recommend exploring a bit off the beaten path. Maybe a GPS would be a good idea though.

    • Thanks so much for sharing the insider tip about the soba shop!
      I’ll make sure to check it out next time I go there! :thumbup:

      How far did you go that you got lost? Sounds scary!
      Not that this never happened to me before .. ahem … :sweatdrop2:

      • Funny, I found it really easy to get lost there. (But then I get lost pretty much everywhere I go in Japan.) Once you get most of the way up the mountain, there are a lot of little dirt paths that branch off to God-knows-where. Not that I’d recommend it, but there are a lot of mountains around Kyoto to get lost in. Careful not to get eaten by an 猪 inoshishi!

    • It is definitely one of the places one should visit when in Kyoto.
      I went there in 2007 for the first time and I only knew about it because of the Geisha movie, I think.
      I’m always surprised that there are still people out there who don’t know about this awesome shrine!
      Glad you went there and enjoyed it!

  • Last time I was in Kyoto I didn’t get the chance to visit this castle since we had only like 2 days of stay. I regretted that decision, but not so much because I visited the beautiful Arashiyama instead, under the dazzling colors of autumn leaves.

    Next time, I’ll spend more days in Kyoto!

    Also, after reading few of your travels in Kansai, I pretty much got ideas where to go around, seeing that you have the same taste of sightseeing like I do. Hahaha..

    • And guess what! There’s much more to come! You’ll be surprised how many great things you can find in Kansai!
      I wish I could just push a button and all the blog posts and photos would appear here, but I have to write them step by step, so please be patient! ;P

      • Great! I wish someone invent a way to transfer all your memories and photos to blog instantly, but that’s alright. Your blog is a good source for references to plan my next trip to Kansai.. =D

        ほとんど友達は関西出身ですので、もっと関西弁を習いたいんです。

        じゃあ、楽しみ待っていますよ。ヨロシク!

          • Have you written an article specifically about 関西弁 before? I think it would be interesting to read. I’d like to know more about it.. =D

          • No, I haven’t.
            While I speak Japanese almost fluently, I’m all self-taught and I don’t feel like I’m a good teacher or somebody who should tell others how to study Japanese or anything like that! ^_^;

            I bet it would be interesting, though.
            Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll think about it! :D

  • Nah, plenty of other blogs have already covered how to study Japanese (sometimes even very extensive). What I don’t see often is the discussion about dialects. It’s always being overlooked as people would say to you to learn standard Japanese, but I think it’s fun to speak in specific dialect, and see your conversation partner reaction to that, hehe..

    On a side note. I’ve been accompanying a Japanese friend of mine traveling round Kuala Lumpur on weekend (he comes from Kyoto). Once I got used to talking with him in Japanese and my Japanese mode was activated, I spoke to almost anyone in Japanese. It’s hard to deactivate the mode after that. Talk about full immersion.. 0_0

    • I agree, but one should first study standard Japanese properly before trying a dialect! ;)

      Maybe you understand a little how I feel every day now. I have to switch between Japanese, English and German several times a day. *g*

  • I can’t agree more. I used to say that all the time, but sadly I’m hooked up by the queerness of Kansaiben..

    Yeap, I totally can understand that. Being a polyglot has its own quirks. :bleh:

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