Being the most important Shinto shrines, and famous for its “thousand gates” in Kyoto. Dedicated to Inari, the gods of rice and business. The popular believe amongst visitors is that, as its name implies from the Japanese “senbon torii”, there’s a thousand red gates surrounding the shrine. The truth is, the numbers are over thousand, and not only the big red gates halls count as gates, it does count the many other sizes all over the trails on Mount Inari, behind the shrine. Not only red gates, but several statues of foxes can be found, as they’re the messengers from the Inari.
Avoiding the crowd
First time I visited Fushimi Inari was in 2010, and followed the trails up to the top, almost alone. I heard of many ghost stories at the time of people getting lost in Fushimi Inari, as it happened to me, twice. My last visit was summer 2016 and I panicked even before getting into the bus to our way there. If you travel around Japan in June, the odds are that you come across with hundreds of Japanese school students, as it’s their period of school trips. On top of that, the incoming number of Chinese tourists and other Asian neighbors is unstoppable. If you don’t deal well with crowds, there’s a solution to visit Fushimi Inari. Avoid going in the morning. Best time to go is right after lunch time. Fushimi Inari trails are open to public, and as one goes further into the trails, the lesser tourists. Enjoy the walk and wander, once you go back to the shrine, there won’t be as many tourists as in the morning, and could take those shots without people in the photo spots. On the trails there are few stops to catch up your breath, eat and drink some snacks in the restaurants, and visit other smaller shrines on the way.
Even during the tourists rush hours, if you walk further in the trails, the number of tourists decreases considerably. Check out on my Youtube channel the video I made on my last visit to have an idea of a short walk on the trails and the shrine.
How to get there
Depending on your starting point in Kyoto, you can acces by bus. From Kyoto station, take the JR Nara Line and get off on the second station, JR Inari station. On the Keihan Line, the closest stop is Fushimi Inari station.