Date of Travel: February 27, 2016
The first place I visited was the Fushimi-Inari Shrine. It’s the head Inari shrine in Japan. Inari is the Shinto god of rice, foxes, success, agriculture and business, merchants, and other things. What’s striking about this shrine, and my main motivation for visiting it, are the thousands and thousands of orange torii gates that line the paths up the mountain.
The major shrine and other sacred places are the entrance, but many minor shrines are located along the paths on the way up.
It was pretty busy at the bottom of the mountain so much of the initial climb was spent waiting behind many others. It cleared up mostly halfway, but then the climb got a little more difficult. And I got tired because this Texan doesn’t frequent varying elevations.
I actually didn’t know it was a mountain until I passed some of the initial buildings and saw a map of the place! Sorry, no pic. I read online that it takes 2 hours to climb up, and I made it a goal to reach the top.
Honestly, I passed through so, so many of those orange torii gates. At every shrine along the way, thousands more lined the spaces around the shrines themselves, though the mini versions.
What’s nice about the hike up Inari Mountain is that vending machines and cafes appear every so often. I didn’t stop by going up or down, but I really thought about it.
The last stretch, I was sweating and tired because I gunned it (walking really fast). I actually passed the top of the mountain accidentally because I didn’t notice the signage saying it was the top. I don’t have a pic, but it’s featured for a few seconds in my video journal.
After reaching the top, I made my way back down relatively quickly. I think it took me an hour and a half total to go up and down the mountain.
Some other cool pics I took:
I had a few thoughts while hiking up and down the mountain:
- Selfie sticks are very much a thing, but not yet my thing.
- I appreciated the overwhelming sense of the number of torii gates and shrines because it made think about the religiosity of humanity and how that inspires us to build such things dedicated to the worship of something or someone and asking for their help. And creating something tangible and beautiful to represent that. Being Catholic, that’s something I can relate to. #ReligiosityOfMankind
- Every crossroad in the path was a struggle deciding which way to go, considering I didn’t know which would be the shortest or least-traveled path.
- I probably could have spent more time looking at everything, but most everything was pretty similar.
- This place would probably look amazing at night since I noticed all the lanterns along the way. I bet it would be creepy too. Maybe next time.
- The green tea ice cream stand halfway through looked really tempting, especially on the way down after putting the effort getting to the top.
I’m really glad I made this my first stop in Kyoto because of the physicality involved in making a decently long hike up and down Inari Mountain. However, I still had a lot of walking to do for the rest of the day.
You can reach the Fushimi-Inari Shrine by taking the JR Nara Line from Kyoto Station. The second stop heading south is Inari station, which is conveniently right in front of the entrance. A lesson learned regarding the JR Nara Line is that multiple trains use that particular line but only the Local train stops at Inari station. I inadvertently boarded a Rapid train at first and eventually figured out minutes before departure that it wouldn’t stop at Inari station.
The Fushimi-Inari Shrine is free to visit. Food and drinks along the way. At the entrance/bottom/the train station are several stores where you can buy Japan and Inari-shrine related items as well as multiple food stands selling street food. I actually grabbed some dango on the way out. This particular one roasts them briefly, and it was delicious.
After consuming my dango, I made my way towards my next destination!
To be continued.