Fushimi Inari Taisha – Shrine of Foxes
Visit the magical shrine Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto and be awed by its colorful exterior, the majestic fox statues and the path of a thousand red gates. All the info - right here.
Famous for its thousands of red 鳥居 torii gates, Fushimi Inari Taisha is a wondrous and peaceful shrine in Kyoto. It is dedicated to Inari, the god of rice, responsible for prosperity, business and harvests. The shrine takes its name from its location in the Fushimi district of Kyoto city. Kyoto itself is a well-visited and much-loved destination, as it offers many cultural and historic sites and events you wouldn’t want to miss.
For more on Kyoto, check our guide here: Things to Do in Kyoto – A Definitive Guide
Fushimi Inari Taisha Overview
Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社) is the head shrine of Inari, set at the base of a small mountain (also named Inari). The famous gates lead two parallel paths up the mountain with some smaller shrines along the way. Each of the torii lining the Senbon Doori (“thousands of torii”) paths have been donated by businesses in hope the hope of prosperity in return.
This age-old shrine is said to have as many as 32,000 sub-shrines throughout Japan, also dedicated to Inarigami (the god Inari). In fact, the oldest structures were constructed in 711, however, the shrine was relocated in 816. The main shrine structure dates back to 1499.
At the bottom of the hill, the main gate (楼門 romon) and the main shrine (御本殿 go-honden) welcome visitors and worshipers. Behind them, up into the mountain, the inner shrine (奥宮 okumiya) is reachable via a magical walk up the mountain paths. During festivities like New Years millions visit the shrine complex to pray for good fortune and enjoy the jubilant atmosphere. Apparently, the police in Fushimi reported that for the year 2006 there were 2.69 million visitors in the last three days of the year.
Foxes (狐 kitsune), regarded as the messengers of the gods, are often found in Inari shrines. In Japanese mythology, they are wise creatures with the ability to shapeshift. At Fushimi Inari Taisha they carry a key in their mouths – the key to Inari’s rice granary.
Traveling up the hill takes approximately 2-3 hours and most visitors don’t go the entire distance for that reason. There are some restaurants and stands along the way up which offer local dishes including fried tofu (aburaage) and specialities like Inari Sushi and Kitsune Udon (“Fox Udon”). Definitely worth a try if you’ve never had the chance.
The shrine buildings are lit up by hundreds of red lanterns in the evenings, matching the structure’s color scheme perfectly. This in itself is an event you don’t want to miss so it is best to plan for a visit from around 3 pm to sun-down.
If you would like to partake in festivities, there are – of course – plenty to choose from in almost every season. The official page has a yearly calendar with the biggest and most spectacular cultural events around Fushimi Inari Taisha. Have a look for your planned visit and you might be able to catch a great performance or ceremony while you’re visiting.
The official Kyoto guide page also lists events that happen at Fushimi Inari Taisha, so if you’d like the full list of happenings in Kyoto and the shrine, visit the following page for more info:
The approach to the shrine features a number of sweet shops selling tsujiura senbei, a kind of fortune cookie very popular in Japan in various forms and regional flavors. Of course, there are plenty of shops for trinkets and other touristy items you might want to gorge on.
Mon – Sun
07.00 am – 06.30 pm
free of charge
Fushimi, Kyoto, Japan
There is a very amusing little leaflet, officially drafted by the shrine’s keepers, explaining toilet manners, how to behave around the grounds and the correct way of speaking with the enshrined deity at Fushimi Inari Taisha. Have a look here.
Closest to the temple grounds is Inari Station on the JR Nara Line, just a five-minute walk from the entrance. This line connects to Kyoto Station and is therefore quite a popular way to get to Fushimi Inari Taisha.
Alternatively, take the Keihan Line to Fushimi-Inari Station. This station is a bit farther out, a ten-minute walk, but still quite close to the entry gates. To get to the temple without a hitch, take exit number 2 (出入口２) at Fushimi-Inari Station.