On our second day in Kyoto, we explored another very popular site in Japan – Fushimi Inari Shrine.
Fushimi Inari Shrine is known for its bright red torii gates that run through a series of trails to the top of Mount Inari. We had wanted to visit the shrine before even moving to Japan, and were excited to finally make it there during spring break.
Why is Fushimi Inari Shrine so popular?
A few months ago, Caleb diagnosed me with a rare condition called “Temple Fatigue.” Temple Fatigue is when you’ve seen so many Japanese temples that they all start to melt into one big temple, and you collapse from exhaustion. I read somewhere that Kyoto is home to 2000 temples and shrines, and that alone made me want to take a nap. Even though we didn’t get close to visiting all 2000, it started to get more difficult to appreciate each temple after seeing one almost every day.
That got me thinking – if there really are 2000 temples and shrines in Kyoto, why on earth are there always so many people at every temple I go to? And what is the draw to them when (in my humble/honest opinion that doesn’t really matter) they all kind of look the same?
I never really came to a solid conclusion that I feel comfortable sharing with the internet, but feel free to share yours down in the comments below.
Nonetheless, Fushimi Inari was in fact, PACKED. This is not an exaggeration. We started making our way to the famous torii gates, and found our place in the slow moving line along with hundreds of other people. It was almost impossible to stop and take a picture of the long row of gates because the people behind us wanted to keep walking.
The gates are gorgeous, and it’s incredible to see so many torii gates in one place. There’s definitely a magical, mystical quality to the shrine, and is more unique than others that we’ve visited.
Fushimi Inari & Foxes:
Other than the amount of tourists, one of the first things we noticed was the different fox statues that are placed throughout the shrine. Fushimi Inari is dedicated to Inari, the god of rice, but foxes are believed to be Inari’s messengers.
Not only can you see foxes on the temple grounds, you can also eat Kitsune (Fox) Udon, named after the animal because it’s said that the fried tofu inside the soup is a fox’s favorite food.
How Can You Enjoy Fushimi Inari Shrine?
I would be lying if I said I loved our visit to Fushimi Inari Shrine. Because of the amount of people that we encountered, we didn’t make it to the top of the mountain, and spent much less time there than we originally planned. We made it through most of the torii gates before turning around and getting lunch.
One thing I would say to anyone interested in visiting this shrine is GO EARLY. And I’m talking like 5 a.m. early. This is one spot that is worth waking up early for, because you don’t want to feel rushed or claustrophobic when exploring the gates.
It’s worth visiting, but not if 1000 other people are there with you.
Go early, take as many pictures as you can, and then go get a big bowl of kitsune udon in town because it. is. delicious. There’s plenty of places to choose from, but we’d recommend checking out Kendonya. Their prices are very reasonable, and their handmade noodles are the best udon noodles I’ve ever eaten.
Open 24 hrs.