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"Unforgettable Moments: Exploring Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, Japan"

Updated: Apr 9

14 day Japan travel itinerary

Don't Forget to Check out two Japan travel books I wrote:

Also, don't forget to check out my 1,682 photos on dreamstime.

One of the most popular and iconic shrines in Kyoto is undoubtedly the Fushimi Inari Shrine. Situated in southern Kyoto (capital of Japan in 794), this reputable shrine draws hundreds if not thousands of tourists daily. But is it just the shrine that draws people like a magnet? It is actually the tori gates.

This article serves as a guide to ensure your journey is smooth and relaxing at the Fushimi Inari Shrine. Before I dive into the main article, I want to first recommend places to stay, restaurants to eat at, and guide trips to book before you make the trip to Japan. I have resided in Japan for over 5 years and I have utilize viator and agoda for years.

How to Get from Tokyo to Kyoto

Your trip is not complete without riding the Bullet Train. In Chapter 11 of my book a Journey Through Japan, I provide a comprehensive list of all of the bullet trains noting the time of destination, and prices for unreserved, reserved, and green seat. Click HERE to see prices.

If you would like to purchase your BULLET TRAIN TICKET, click HERE!!!

Where to Stay in Kyoto:

Finding a place to stay can cause some anxiety. Below are some of my favorites that I have personally stayed at and are more than satisfied with my experience. See discounted prices below.

1. Hotel Granvia Kyoto- The elegant and spacious hotel is connected to the JR Kyoto Station. This well maintained hotel offered excellent service, large rooms, and an abundance of amenities. The location of the hotel is in close proximity to a myriad of restaurants and shopping areas. The breakfast is excellent!

JR Kyoto Station Central Exit, Shiokoji-sagaru, Karasuma-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8216 Japan

2. Cross Hotel Kyoto- My experience was wonderful. This Cross Hotel Kyoto feels more like a 4 star hotel as it provided large and spacious rooms, delicious breakfast, and excellent customer service. The hotel is a short walk to Gion and in the vicinity of superb shopping areas.

71-1 Daikokuchō, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8031

3. Hotel Okura Kyoto- The Hotel Okura Kyoto is very luxurious. The hospitality was incredible, and the rooms were spacious, clean, and excellent. The Hotel Okura Kyoto is within close walking distance to the main entertainment and shopping district called Kawaramachi.

〒604-8558 Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, 河原町御池

4. Ace Hotel Kyoto- The Ace Hotel Kyoto is a historic and quaint hotel with a clever design. The beds are large and comfortable, and the restaurants are superb. The hotel is within walking distance of the famous Kawaramachi-dori and Nishiki Market.

245-2 Kurumayachō, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8185

5. RIHGA Royal Hotel Kyoto- The RIHGA Roya Hotel Kyoto provides a free shuttle bus. The hotel is situated about 2 minutes from the Hongwanji temple, and it provides comfortable beds and large rooms. The luxury hotel even offers Japanese style tatami rooms. The hospitality and breakfast are excellent.

1-Taimatsu-cho, Shiokoji-sagaru, HigashiHorikawa-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8237, Japan

6. Kyoto Century Hotel- cozy, fancy, and elegant with excellent staff, the hotel offers delicious breakfast, large, clean, and spacious beds. The staff are friendly and professional. The hotel is conveniently located 1 minute from the train station.

680 Higashishiokōjichō, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8216

7. Sakura Terrace The Gallery-

A relaxed and cozy atmosphere where free coffee is served. The hotel provides massage chairs and large and spacious rooms. The hotel is a short distance from the Kyoto train station. The breakfast is excellent.

8. Hotel the Celestine Kyoto Gion

The hotel offers Japanese style tatami rooms and Japanese breakfast. The hotel is in close proximity of a variety of restaurants, shops, and attractions in the Higashiyama district. The hotel offers a nespresso in the room.

〒605-0811 Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward, Komatsuchō, 572

9. Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Shinmachi Bettei- the hotel offers top notch hotel service, large and cozy hotel beds. Unlike many of the hotels, the Mitsui Garden Hotel has a garden in the middle of the hotel. The breakfast is amazing and the rooms are tidy and clean.

〒604-8212 Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, Rokkakuchō, 361 三井ガーデンホテル京都新町別邸 1F

10. Hotel Nikko Princess Kyoto

630 Takahashichō, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8096

The hotel provides great customer service, large spacious rooms, and it is conveniently located next to convenient stores and a temple. The breakfast is incredible.

Where to Book a Guide Trip to the Fushimi Inari Shrine:

I remember when I first arrived in Japan. I was lost as a goose. I wished I had a guide that I wrote a year ago to aid in guiding me through this beautiful country. Planning an itinerary in a foreign country can be frightening and traveling to a certain destination with no guide can be nerve wrecking as well. In Chapter 4 of my book A Journey Through Japan, I provide 67 detail tours supplying the reader with a mountain of resources and insight regarding tour guides in Japan. Click HERE to find out what those 67 tour groups are.

More tours below:

Purifying station

When you exit the Inari train station, you will see a purifying station. According to Shinto tradition (one of the major religious beliefs in Japan), people physically wash their hands and mouths at a large stone wash basin where people utilize bamboo ladles to pour on their hands as a symbol of purification. This practice is commonly observed all over Japan.

Romon Gate

Passed the purifying station is the large Romon Tori gate. Roman translates as "tower gate." The main gate or the two storied Romon Gate stands at the entrance of the Fushimi Inari Shrine. The prominent warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi donated the gate in 1589. The gate, now regarded as the UNESCO World Hertiage site in the city of Kyoto, has sustained bad weather up until this time and remains beautiful and pristine. Interestingly, the Romon gate is regarded the largest for shrines in this stunning country. Once you pass the Romon gate, you will observed the Gehaiden buiding.

Gehaiden building (Outside Worship Hall):

The Gehaiden building is considered the worship shrine hall outside where people worship and dances take place. The architecture is beautiful with its 12 lanterns suspending.

Honden (Main Shrine):

The Fushimi Inari Shrine was created by the Hata family in 711. A powerful clan, the hata family was considered adept with agriculture and prospered greatly. The Honden or the main shrine itself--being the head of inari shrines in Japan-- is regarded a pertinent cultural property and it is thus the oldest of the landmarks in Kyoto. The five pillars of the shriine are symbolic of Inari Okami's (a success and fertility deity) great values. According to Shinto tradition , Inari is the Shinto god of sake and rice. This belief connects to the reason that people are donating tori gates. They believe they will prosper in their business.

After the Honden is the main Fushimi Inari Shrine. The shrine has gained popularity not only from photos, but from movies as well. The Fushimi Inari Shrine was uniquely featured in the 2005 film Memoir of a Geisha. In this romantic movie directed by Rob Marshall, the young Chiyo runs through a tunnel of bright orange tori gates.

Tori Gates

What I find unique about the bright orange Tori gates is that each one of the them is beautifully engraved with a name or company. Directly on the back of the tori gates are black kanji letters which indicate the name of the donator and the date the person donated the tori gate. Tori gates can cost as much as $7,000. Nevertheless, the seemingly never ending row of vermillion tori gates creates a mystical path that meanders through forests to the Mount Inari. The reportedly 10,000 tori gates will leave you in awe and passing through the tori gates is such a breathtaking experience. Most have heard of the Fushimi inari shrine as famous for the thousand tori gates, which in Japanese is Senbon tori. If you choose to complete the hike to the sacred mountain, expect to hike about 3 hours. The shrine is about 233 meters above sea level.


When you walk on the grounds of the shrine, you will observe a myriad of fox (kitsune) statues which are considered messengers of Inari. One fox in particular is holding what appears to be a rolled up scroll and other one a key, which are symbolic. It is said that the key in the foxes's mouth represents the metaphorical unlocking of storage houses that are stocked with rice. According to tradition, foxes are deemed sacred because they eat mice, which eat rice. Rice is a staple crop in Japan and commonly served with a myriad of a Japanese dishes.

Best Time to Visit Fushimi Inari Shrine

How to Get to the Shrine:

By Train: The Shrine is only a 5 minute train ride from Kyoto Station. Take the Nara Line to Inari Station. The shrine is a 1 minute walk from the station. The price is only 150 yen.

Hours of Operation:

The wonderful thing about this attraction is the Fushimi Inari shrine operates 24 hours a day.

Price of Fushimi Inari Shrine: FREE

Final Suggestions:

Wear Comfortable Shoes: I recommended wearing comfortable shoes when visiting the Fushimi Inari shrine and in Kyoto in general. Whether you are waking up a flight of stairs or through the forest, you will appreciate comfortable walking shoes.

Rent Kimonos: The times I have visited the shrine, I have noticed women wearing Kimonos, which are Japanese style attire. Many tourists rent a kimono and have their photo made next to the iconic tori gates.

Arrive early or late in the afternoon: I have been to the Fushimi inari shrine and I have visited the shrine both in the early morning and late in the evening. The best time to visit the shrine is from 0800-0900 or 6 p.m.-8 p.m. I have found by experience that getting to the shrine very early in the morning or late in the evening allows me to capture those dynamic photos with very few people in sight. The place is teeming with people by 9 A.M.- 12 P.M., and the traffic flows steadily throughout the day. The last time I was walking through the tori gates, I was out past 10 p.m. If you choose to go at night, realize there are very few lights in the area. It can be eerily, especially when you see and hear cats fighting and creaking trees from the wind. I recommend bringing a flash light or use the flashlight on your smartphone.

Be patient: We all want that iconic tori gate photo where people are not in the picture. I learned that by patience I was able to take some beautiful photos of the tori gates.

Plan an 1 day or half day itinerary at this shrine: The Fushimi Inari shrine is not a 30 minute attraction. If you think about, if you trekked 3 hours through the tori gates up to the Inari mountain, that means you would trek 2 hours back. You want to leave time in your schedule to not be rushed and to enjoy the scenery.

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