How to visit Fushimi Inari Taisha like a pro

In the south of Kyoto lays Fushimi Inari Taisha, a shrine known for its thousands of vermilion torii gates that lead you through the magical forest of Mount Inari. Fushimi Inari is by far the most important shrine in the whole of Kyoto. In this guide, I’ll give you all the information and tips you need to visit this shrine like a pro – avoid the tourists and make this visit worth your time. Need more inspiration for your Kyoto trip? Check out my 2 day itinerary.

What is Fushimi Inari?

Founded back in 711 by the Hata family, Fushimi Inari is the oldest and possibly the most prominent shrine in Kyoto. The shrine is dedicated to the Shinto god named Inari. In the Japanese Shinto religion, Inari is the kami (=spirit) of rice, sake and prosperous business. In Japan, there are more than 30,000 shrines dedicated to this god, but Fushimi Inari is considered the main shrine.

fushimi inari senbon torii gates

Fushimi Inari is mainly known for its thousands of torii gates that follow a trail all the way up to the summit of the sacred Mount Inari. Especially with the morning sun dripping into the forest, the walk through the torii gates is indeed a magical one.

What do the torii gates represent?

The red torii gates that are lined up at Fushimi Inari are all donated by an individual or a business. You can find the name of the person or business carved into the poles. A torii gate will cost you anything between Β₯400.000 and Β₯1.000.000, depending on its size. It’s not cheap to keep the god of rice happy πŸ˜‰ The vermilion red colour of the torii gates symbolises the protection against evil forces and the mercury in the paint serves as a preservative.

donated torii gates

At the start of the hike, you will find two dense rows of torii gates called Senbon Torii (= thousands of torii gates). This is probably the most photographed bit of Fushimi Inari. The two rows are parallel to each other and end up at the same point, so it doesn’t matter which one you walk through. After that, the hike to the summit begins.

Inari’s foxes

During the hike up Mount Inari, you will cross not only the beautiful torii gates, but you’ll also find hundreds of fox statues. In the Shinto religion, it is believed that foxes (kitsune) are Inari’s messengers. In front of many shrines located on Mount Inari, two fox statues protect the entrance. They are often portrayed holding a symbolic item in their mouths. Usually, it’s rice, a jewel or a granary key.

fushimi inari foxes statue

Best time to visit Fushimi Inari

Fushimi Inari is a popular place to visit for tourists, which is why it gets pretty crowded during the day. If you want to avoid the crow, you should try to either visit early in the morning or at night. It honestly makes such a big difference!

We decided to go early in the morning and arrived at the entrance at 7 AM. It was nice and quiet and it gave us the opportunity to take some photos without hundreds of tourists in the way. The hike up Mount Inari was also very quiet and due to the lack of people, very peaceful. After we returned from the hike (at around 10 AM), there were already queues pushing through the Senbon Torii at the bottom of the mountain. It was so busy! If you’re planning on going in the morning, try to get there as early as 6-7 AM to avoid these crowds. It’ll be worth it.

You can also decide to visit Fushimi Inari later in the evening or even at night. Especially at night, the shrine and the trail are nice and quiet. Make sure to dress appropriately and bring some flashlights if you are visiting after dark.

fushimi inari at night
fushimi inari at night

Fushimi Inari Opening Hours

Fushimi Inari Taisha is open 24 hours a day. The shrine is also open every day of the year. Please keep in mind that the shops are only staffed between 9 AM and 5 PM. You might also find some guards in the evening, but don’t worry, it’s perfectly okay to visit at night.

fushimi inari entrance

How long does it take to hike Mount Inari?

The full 4km hike takes about 2-3 hours. There are many smaller shrines, more torii gates and many statues to admire while making your way to the summit. The hike itself is very doable. I’m definitely wasn’t in the best shape when I visited Fushimi Inari, but I had no problems walking up the mountain. The beautiful view at Yotsutsuji Intersection (about 30-40 minutes into the climb) makes it all worth it.

hike on mount inari

If you’re planning to go during the summer, I’d definitely make sure to bring enough water with you. Because we visited Kyoto in October, the weather was perfect to hike up Mount Inari, especially because we got there so early. But I can imagine it being a lot harder in summer with hot weather. There are vending machines and shops alongside the trail, in case you run out.

shinto shrine on mount inari
One of the many shrines you’ll find along the way to the summit

Fushimi Inari Entrance Fee

Fushimi Inari is completely free to visit. There are some shops you will find during your hike, selling souvenirs, drinks and snacks. It is, however, recommended to bring some of your own snacks and drinks as these shops definitely are on the more expensive side. The higher you go, the more expensive they seemed to get. I’d also recommend taking some loose change in case you want to pray at one of the shrines located on the mountain.

If you’re a foodie and like to try some typical Japanese snacks, I’d highly recommend going to the street market located near the entrance of Fushimi Inari. Some food vendors have their stalls set up on the street of the shrine’s entrance. You can get anything from yakitori and corn on the cob to fresh dango and mochi.

fushimi inari taisha

How to get to Fushimi Inari

The easiest way to get to Fushimi Inari is by train. From Kyoto Station, you can take the JR Nara Line, and within 5 minutes you will arrive at Inari Station. Fushimi Inari is located right outside that station. If you are using a JR Pass, you can use it to travel freely on this train line. Otherwise, it will cost you Β₯140 (Β£1.02). Always double check if your train stops at Inari Station, as only local trains stop at the station. You can check and plan your train journey on the HyperDia website or app.

Fushimi Inari Taisha address: 68 Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 612-0882

thousand gate shrine kyoto

Where to stay when visiting Fushimi Inari

Because we wanted to make sure we got to Fushimi Inari bright and early during our trip, we decided to book a hotel within walking distance from the shrine. We stayed at the Urban Hotel Kyoto. A budget hotel with nothing more than you need. A bed, a bathroom and that’s about it – but very affordable and close to Fushimi Inari. The hotel is located in a quiet area and you can find a bakery can be found next door for freshly baked buns for Β₯100. Across the street from the hotel, you can find a super cheap second-hand retro game shop, too.

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fushimi inari taisha kyoto japan

34 thoughts on “How to visit Fushimi Inari Taisha like a pro”

  1. I went there last year, it was really beautiful and I loved the walk up. We didn’t get to the top, because it was the middle of summer and it got incredibly hot. We managed to get some photos without people in the background, we just had to wait for ages for people to get past and act quickly in order to get a photo! Your photos here are beautiful! I think next time I go I’ll make sure I go in cooler weather, and preferably earlier in the day!

    • It really was one of my favourite spots in Japan! So lovely. I can imagine it being way too hot to hike up in the summer. Hope you get to visit again, when it’s a bit cooler πŸ™‚

  2. Hi! I have heard a lot about this shrine and always found it to be so beautiful.

    This is the first post I have read which actually describes what they are all about & how to find them/where to stay etc ☺

    Thanks so much for this informative post! Xo

  3. Absolutely beautiful photos!! I love getting out early and staying out late to be able to capture the essence of a place without all the tourists. You did a great job! Kyoto is high on my list to visit, but I have to convince my husband first! (The flight is a bit intimidating!)

    • Thank you so much! Flights are definitely on the expensive side, but when you book early, you can save a lot of money! We got our flights to Tokyo for 450 pound return each πŸ™‚

  4. Absolutely beautiful photos Nele! I haven’t been to Japan yet, but it’s very high on my travel bucket list. I have now added Fushimi Inari as one of my must-do stops.

  5. Great Post!!

    I love all Fushimi inari shrines, but this one is the most impressive of them all. It’s the place I always bring people on their first visit to Kyoto. I love that you get to hike up a mountain as well!

    I totally agree that it’s best to arrive either early in the morning, or just as the sun sets. Otherwise it can be just a teeny bit too crazily busy.

    • They’re just so pretty – like they’re from another world. It was the main thing I wanted to see in Kyoto, which is why we booked our hotel really close to it haha! Super glad we decided to go early because I think the crowd would’ve ruined the experience.

  6. I’ve seen many of these torii gates around Tokyo, but I had no idea what their significance was. Thanks for explaining in such detail the significance of these and the Fushimi Inari location in Kyoto. It’s so high on my list of places to go!

  7. Oh my, thats really beautifl πŸ™‚ And I love that its completely free to visit, I would have loved to try some of the streetfood, even though Im a scardycat when it comes to trying new foods πŸ˜›

  8. This is a great guide! When I visit I’ll be sure to wake up early to really experience it! Loved your photos and you had some great tips I never would have thought of!

    • Thank you Linnea, so glad you enjoyed reading it πŸ™‚ If you ever decide to go, definitely go early rather than later! I think the experience would’ve been ruined if we arrived any later than 9 AM!

  9. I went there two years ago and had such a great time!! Love all your tips. Sadly, we couldn’t go there early in the morning but it was only busy at the beginning of the torii gates. More up the mountain there was nobody!

    • Isn’t it just the most perfect place :)? Ahh that’s a shame! You can’t go to every Kyoto sight early though haha, you have to pick & choose. Glad you still managed to find some quiet spots up the mountain πŸ™‚

  10. What an awesome post! I didn’t know much about the shrines before but this post has made me fall in love with them. Japan looks so beautiful and it’s my dream to go there. Thank you for sharing and informing me! When I go I’ll deffo remember this post x

  11. I was in Kyoto earlier this year and made sure that we had enough time to climb the entire way to the top of Fushimi Inari. With stopping for pictures and exploring all the shrines it took us close to 4 hours, but it was worth it! Loved visiting! This travel guide brings back so many amazing memories! Thanks for sharing!

    • I’m so glad it brought back some memories! Fushimi Inari was probably my favourite thing we saw in Japan. I think our entire trip there took about 3-4 hours too, cause we wanted to take so many photos haha!

  12. This is such a comprehensive guide – thank you so much for putting this together! I’ve wanted to go to Japan for so long and I love reading/watching others content about their travels and tips. xx
    El // Welsh Wanderer

  13. This was such an interesting read you gave so much detail! I would love to go to Japan one day so this will definitely be on my list to do there now 😊

  14. Fushimi inari is one of the most interesting kyoto shrines … the climb with the torii is tiring but it is worth the effort … so many people, but on working days one walks well. Not to go in the summer with the hot humid Japanese …
    Fascinating to know that there are over 40 thousand Inari shrines throughout Japan and Fushimi is the origin of all.

  15. Great advice to go early on the morning! I visited in 2012 before it became too tourist-trappy, and fell in love with he place. Then visited again in 2018 and didn’t think anything of going in the middle of the day. Yikes! There was nowhere to move as we made our way through the gates. Only time I’ve ever feared getting crushed in a crowd. Definitely avoid peak hours.


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