Fushimi Inari is probably the most famous shrine in Japan because of the hundreds of torii gates found there. The shrine is found in the southern region of Kyoto city and despite being a little bit out of the way, it remains a hot favourite among locals and tourists alike. If you are someone who hates crowds as much as I do, this can be a bit of a nightmare. So, is the famous shrine really worth your time despite the massive crowds?
At the base of the shrine there are several stalls selling street food! There were stalls selling taiyaki, small okonomiyaki, yakisoba and so on. For my friends and I this was the perfect opportunity to try some and fill our tummies, which i really recommend by the way, as there is a lot of walking to be done.
The main shrines in the area were really beautiful and there were lots of big ones and plenty of smaller ones. The architecture is really pretty and the shrines almost seem like palaces. These places were indeed crowded.
There are also plenty of statues and references to foxes, which are regarded as messengers in the shrines. You can buy cheeky fox key chains and tablets, or tablets that resemble the Torii gates, which were really cute!
But the real beauty of Fushimi inari had yet to reveal itself. The reason that Fushimi inari is still absolutely worth going to is the one that has made the shrine most famous- the hundreds upon hundreds of red torii gates that carve a path along the gorgeous mountain.
The mountainous regions of Fushimi inari bring another advantage- the higher you go, the less people there are. And this mountain is seriously beautiful. There are also little tea houses along the way where you can stop to have a drink while taking in the beautiful view.
I highly recommend that you climb all the way up if you visit, I’ve heard the view is stunning. Unfortunately I didn’t have the time, so I climbed about 3/4 way up. It takes approximately 2 hours to walk all the way up.
The way down was really beautiful as well. We took a slightly different path down, which was practically deserted most of the way. The fact that we visited in autumn was of course a huge bonus!
There are lots of wonderful places to take photos of the scenery and many small sub shrines, and lots of these places have little to no people (especially the higher you go), as most tourists seem to be content with just looking around the main shrines, completely missing out the best parts of Fushimi Inari, which is the beautiful hiking trail.
Coming back to the question earlier of whether Fushimi Inari is worth going to; for me, the answer is a clear yes. The place is absolutely gorgeous and there are several things that make it worth going to, including the pretty architecture, the beautiful mountain landscape and the wonderful view from the top. Just remember to move past the main shrines and make your way up the mountain. If you want to completely avoid crowds, you can also consider coming in the evening to get a view of the sunset or very early mornings.
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