Fushimi Inari Taisha (Taisha means Shrine in Japanese) is a popular tourist attraction in Kyoto. Located on the southern side of the city, the Shinto shrine is always packed with visitors. One of the main attractions is Torii gates that can lead you to Mount Inari wooded forest. If you follow the path, you can hike up and also enjoy the view. This is not only a shrine but also a historical construction with sacred atmosphere and gorgeous surroundings.
About the Shrine
The most interesting thing about this shrine is the Torii gates – thousands of them. What is a Torii gate, anyway? It is the divider of the spiritual and physical worlds. All the Torii gates found at Fushimi Inari Taisha are the results of donations made by companies or individuals. If you look closely, you should be able to see inscriptions (on the back side of the gates) that represent the donor’s name with their wishes of happiness, wealth, or health.
It is believed that Inari has a messenger, the foxes (the kitsune). Don’t be surprised if you find a lot of fox statues on the shrine grounds. They are various in designs and styles – some have several tails while some may have a key inside their mouth. It is believed that foxes with more than one tail are older, wiser, and more powerful than those with only one tail. The foxes wear red scarves that can expel illness and demons. Red is the sign that they are Inari’s loyal followers.
The shrine itself has its own significant importance for Inari worship. Inari is the God of Rice in Shinto belief. The gates can be found at the back side of the building. Most visitors that are coming to this shrine want to follow a path leading through the wooded forest to get to the top – located 233 meters high. The first part of the trail is generally the packed area. Tourists want to take pictures. If you want to have a quieter area, just move along. On your way, you will actually find many secluded areas with no one around.
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The Perfect Time to Visit the Shrine
The perfect time to come to the shrine without being surrounded by too many people is either late at night or very early morning. When you visit the shrine by the day, you want to get an early start –coming to the place at 7 AM or 8 AM. Once you are there, you can start the hike, enjoying the peace. The shrine is generally packed and crowded around 10 AM so be sure to come early before that.
Don’t forget that season plays an important part in enjoying the surroundings. In Japan, the sun always rises early. But during winters, it can be dark starting at 4 PM. One of the biggest disadvantages of visiting the shrine in the afternoon is that you will miss the sunset – over Kyoto. If you decide to visit the shrine at night, be sure to bring a good quality camera and a flashlight. The trail is peaceful although some people may find it spooky.
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Going to the Shrine
It isn’t difficult at all to come to Fushimi Inari Taisha. It is situated right outside JR Inari Station, which is the second station from Kyoto Station. You can take JR Nara Line that is going to cost you ¥140 if you come from Kyoto Station. The trip itself takes only 5 minutes so it is pretty fast. If you are coming along Keihan Main Line to Fushimi Inari Station, you can just walk.
If Japan is your next destination, be sure to plan ahead. Don’t forget to make a reservation as well. Want to have a reliable service for your flights? Go to airpaz.com and choose the available airlines like Japan Airlines or ANA All Nippon.