Fushimi Inari (伏見稲荷大社) is a Shinto Shrine located at the base of Mt Inari in Kyoto. Inari, is the God of rice and is also seen as the patron saint of business. So you can imagine, this is a very important shrine to the Japanese!
The foxes you see around the shrine, which my son thinks look like angry dogs, are thought to be Inari’s messengers. Shinto is the native religion of Japan. Buddhism and Shinto are the two main religions in Japan and, unlike many other religions, both religions coexist quite harmoniously with many Japanese considering themselves to be both Buddhist and Shinto. If you are are going to visit Japan, it’s best to get your head around the fact that you have Shinto Shrines and Buddhist Temples.
Lining the path to the top of Mt Inari are some 32 000 Tori (the red gates). Each of the gates has been donated by a business or family, and their names can be found on one side of the gate. You can see the names inscribed in some of the photographs.
If you are travelling with children, I wouldn’t take a pram here. Personally, I wouldn’t take a pram anywhere in Kyoto – it is just too crowded, too hilly and most places have too many stairs. While a lot of Fushimi Inari Taisha is paved or has concrete pathways, there are also a lot of stairs. And a lot of crowds. The photos are deceptive. Find a good corner, wait a while, and you can manage to capture a picture that makes it looks like you are the only people there. But don’t be mistaken, unless you are here at some insanely early hour, it is almost always full of people. As you can see from our photos – we utilised our backpack carrier here. And we needed it. While our children are used to walking (we live on a small farm), the constant uphill walk, dotted with flights of stairs, tired even us adults out.
The walk is broken up into sections, with several sections giving you a loop back option down to the base again. Word to the wise, if you aren’t going to make it to the top, walk at least to one of these loop back sections. With crowds heading up the mountain, it isn’t looked too kindly upon if you try going back down the path everyone is using to get up the mountain. I’ve only ever seen foreigners try go the ‘wrong’ way.
The walk to the top is not a walk for the faint-hearted. Don’t let the relative ease of the path fool you into thinking the entire route will be a stroll in the park. It’s a long way and all uphill. But remember, there are various points at which you can exit and walk back down again. So just go as much and for as long as you can.
How to get there: Catch the JR Line to Inari Station, which almost drops you right at the Shrine itself.
We took a taxi from Heian Shrine and it cost us 1 630 yen. Basically we were running out of time and we saw a taxi as a way of getting the most out of our day without tiring the children out unnecessarily (and we knew the walk we had ahead of us!)
Pram Friendly? No, not at all.
Fitness Level: Moderately fit (as you have exit points along the way, you can determine how far you want to walk).