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Day 1 of our three-day Kyoto trip was really just half a day. In the short amount of time, we strolled through Nishiki market and Nijo Castle, and had early dinner at Yakiniku Hiro for our first Japanese BBQ experience. Day 2, according to the weather man, was the only sunny day during our stay. So we wanted to make the most of it and had several places planned for the day. The first stop was Fushimi Inari Shrine, the place famous for its thousands of tori gates.
How to get to Fushimi Inari Shrine
Located in southern Kyoto, the entrance to Fushimi Inari Shrine is just outside JR Inari Station. The station is the second one from Kyoto Station along the JR Nara Line. It takes 5 minutes and cost 140 yen one way from Kyoto Station. The shrine can also be reached in a short walk from Fushimi Inari Station along the Keihan Main Line. Our hotel the Hyatt Regency Kyoto was not near any train lines, so the quickest way for us to get here was by taxi. We were here by 8:30am, and left before 10am, just in time before the big crowds came in.
A magical climb through thousands of tori gates
Fushimi Inari Shrine is said to have over 10,000 tori gates on its ground, some dated back to 711 A.D. The tori gates, in varied shade of orange color, straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings. The trails lead into the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari. Foxes are thought to be Inari’s messengers, thus many fox statues can be found across the shrine grounds.
After the main buildings, the climb begins. The seemingly unending path of thousands of vibrant orange tori gates made this morning walk in the cold breeze and rising run unexpectedly pleasant and magical!
It took us about an hour from the main village in the bottom of Fushimi Inari Shrine to the mid point of the trail. It was about 9:40am then. We were not sure how much longer it would take to climb all the way to the top and then back down. We did have lunch reservation in Arashiyama area, which would take us about 40 minutes to reach by JR. We decided to turn back.
If I ever come back to Kyoto again (I know I will), I will be sure to allow enough time to climb all the way to the summit and back (about 3-4 hours). Again, I would do it in the morning before the big crowd arrives. There are souvenir shops and restaurants along the way, so you can easily turn a visit here into a half-day or even a whole-day thing. Seeing the pictures is simply not enough. You really have to be here in person to experience the magic of thousands tori gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine.