Travel Guide to the Fushimi Inari Shrine
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Fushimi Inari Taisha is the head shrine of the god of rice Inari and one of the most revered Shinto shrines in Kyoto. The shrine is known for its thousands of vermilion torii entries, which connect a network of routes behind its main buildings. These pathways lead deep into the woody forest of Mount Inari. Mount Inari is 233 meters high and it belongs to the shrine parkland. There are thousands of shrines devoted to the Shinto god of rice, Inari and the Fushimi Inari is the most important of all. The god’s messengers are believed to be the foxes, explaining the reasons why there are many fox statues all over the shrine grounds.
The ancient origin of Fushimi Inari dates way back before the 791 when the capital moved to Kyoto. Many visitors come to the shrine to explore the numerous mountain trails, although the shrine structures themselves are a sight to behold. Ramon Gate – donated by renowned leader Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1589 is a towering edifice located at the entrance of the shrine, and behind it is the shrine’s main hall or honden, where guests should pay their respects by making small offerings to the resident deity.
Further back at the shrine’s main grounds stands the entrance to the torii hiking trail, covered with many gates. The covering gates are arranged to start with two dense, parallel rows known as Senbon Torii – which translates to ‘thousands of torii gates’). These gates were donated by companies and individuals, and if you look around the back of each gate you will find the inscribed name of the donator, as well as the date of donation. While they may just look like normal gates, these torii gates are quite costly and the cheapest comes at around 400,000 yen while the most expensive, which might be the largest too can cost over a million yen.
Visitors can also donate the torii gates, which can be found in smaller shrines along the hiking trails. There are a couple of restaurants also along the trail and they offer mainly locally themed food such as Kitsune Udon (Fox Udon), and Inari Sushi, both featuring aburaage toppings, considered to be fox favorite food.
A normal hike up the summit of Mount Inari and back can take up to three hours, but visitors are allowed to continue walking as far as they want before turning back.
After around 30 to 40 minutes of hiking up the hill, the density of the gate will gradually decrease up to Yotsutsuji intersection. From here, hikers can enjoy nice views of Kyoto. It is this point that the trail splits into a circular path leading up the hill. This is usually the turning point for many hikers.
Facts about Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine
- The earliest structures of the shrine were constructed in the year 711 atop Inariyama Hill then relocated on the request of Kuikai, an ancient Monk, in 816.
- The torii gates are donated by people or companies to get a wish to come true or to thank for a wish that came true.
- Fushimi Inari shrine is the only Shinto shrine that has publicly exposed chief idol object, which in typical Inari shrines is a mirror
- The shrine has been featured in numerous popular culture projects such as Memoirs of a Geisha in 2005.
- Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine has 1000 gates (torii) and 12000 steps.
How to get to Fushimi Inari Shrine (from Tokyo and Kyoto)
If you are in Tokyo, there are several options of traveling to Fushimi Inari Shrine. You can either use a bus, train, plane, or drive (taxi). If you don’t have a car, the best way to get to Fushimi Inari Shrine is by train, which takes about 2 hours and 40 minutes. This will cost you around $100 to $140 depending on the railway company you use.
To get to Fushimi Inari Shrine from Tokyo, the fastest way is by train. But the cheapest way is by bus which will cost around $45, but it is the longest method of all, taking 8 odd hours and 14 minutes. There are direct bus services from Tokyo to Kyoto, and you can catch them at Station Yaesu Exit in Tokyo and arrive at Fukakusa in Kyoto. The buses operated by JR Bus Kanto, Willer Travel, and Honshi Bus ply this route five times a day every day.
There is no direct train between Tokyo and Fushimi Inari-Taisha, rather the available train services involve transfers. Train operators include Japan Railways Shinkansen and Narita Express (N’EX).
The distance from Tokyo to Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine is about 370 kilometers by air, while the road distance is around 460 kilometers.
You can also travel from Tokyo to Kyoto by car via the Meishin and Tomei Expressways, which will take about 5 to 6 hours provided there are no breaks or traffic jams.
The luxurious method of transport from Tokyo to Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine is by air. It is the most expensive, but very comfortable and takes around 4 hours. Traveling by air will cost between $90 and $340. You can use one of the following airlines; All Nippon Airways, Skymark Airlines, or Japan Airlines. The nearest airport is Itami Airport in Osaka, from there the rest of the journey to Kyoto can be completed by bus which will take about an hour.
Reaching Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine from Kyoto is quite easy and you can even go on foot. The shrine is located outside JR Inari Station, the second station when coming from Kyoto Station alongside the JR Nara Line. From here it will take you just 5 minutes and 140 yen and one way departing from Kyoto Station. Note that there are no rapid train services here. If you want to walk, start from Fushimi Inari Station and along the Keihan Main Line. If you are new around here, just locate the JR Nara Line. The Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine is across the road on the right side. You will be able to see a big torii gate in front of you as you live the ticket gate at Inari station.
There are no entrance fees to Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine because it is a public shrine. Though souvenirs along the trails will cost you a small amount. Also if you want to make a wish or do a prayer you will have to make some small donations which are usually in form of cash.
Kyoto Tour Packages
Kyoto Bus Tour from Osaka: Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine & Kinkaku-ji
Venture out from Osaka on a bus tour and explore Kyoto’s three major temples – Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, Kinkaku-ji, and Kiyomizu Temple. Explore Arashiyama and walk through the Bamboo Grove.