Ancient temples and shrines, sublime cuisine, manicured gardens, colourful geishas and living history in spades – Kyoto is traditional Japan at its best.
A sprawling mountainside shrine complex with trails covered by thousands of vermillion-coloured torii gateways, Fushimi Inari has become one of Japan’s most photographed sites.
Founded in the 8th century, but with most of the spread-out buildings dating to the 1500s, the shrine is one of the most sacred in Japan. It’s dedicated to Inari, the god of rice, sake and prosperity, and functions as the head of some 40,000 Inari sub-shrines nationwide.
It’s a wonderfully eerie place to explore, and a pleasing way to soak up traditional culture while getting some fresh air and exercise.
Getting there & doing it
Like the rest of Kyoto’s attractions, it’s easy to do Fushimi Inari independently. The challenge is avoiding the crowds. To do that, keep walking. Many people don’t go very far on the torii-covered trail after snapping their photos, so the crowds will thin out.
The full two- to three-hour trail to and from the peak of 233m Mount Inariyama’s peak isn’t hard, but it’s still best to wear sturdy shoes and take a drink and a snack.
When to do it
The trails are open year-round but try and avoid the midday and afternoon heat in July and August. Even in the shade, heatstroke can creep up on you with the humidity of a Japanese summer.
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