Wow. This hike was incredible. The Gates at Fushimi Inari highly exceeded my expectations and earned the top spot on our Japan highlights list.
Mount Inari is just 20 minutes by train from Kyoto. We accidentally got on an express train and ended up almost in Osaka before we could turn around. But, eventually we made it back to the hike.
At the base of the mountain is the main shrine which is set up like most other shrines in Japan. There are places to ring bells at the top of long ropes and other places to reveal your fortune. At Inari, the shrines commemorate the God Inari (god of the rice harvest and business), whose messenger is the fox. So, there are lots of fox statues everywhere.
The focal point of the entire hike are the Torii gates. These are simple orange gates with some Kanji on each pillar. The spectacle is that along the path up the mountain there are over 10,000 of these gates. It’s as if you’re walking through a tunnel of gates for the 5km roundtrip trek (It’s a loop, so you go up and down via different legs of the path).
At the bottom of the hill I thought, “Wow, these gates are cool”. At the top of the path I thought, “This is unbelievable. There are SO many of these gates.” The higher we climbed, the more the wonder of this place grew.
At the base of the hike there were lots of tourists, but they thinned out as we got higher. We were happy to make a pit stop at the midpoint of the trail to grab some soft-serve (vanilla and soybean flour twist) that was delicious and refreshing.
If you come to Japan, we highly recommend stopping here!
Thanks for reading,