10,000 Ways to Reach Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto 伏見稲荷大社
Happy New Year 2016! I hope you had a great holiday. 2015 was an amazing year, and I can’t wait for this year’s blessings! What better story to start telling than Kyoto’s #1 destination?
Getting past the 10,000 Torii gates is no joke. Reaching the top and heading down could take you at least two hours and more if you stop to take a break. And by the time you reach the middle and enjoy the beautiful sunset of Kyoto, perseverance will be tested. Only those who do are worthy of reaching the top.
That sounds like philosophical cliche, but it’s incredibly exhausting to reach Mount Inari for an average tourist. Before you begin your long hike on top, you can hang mini Torii gates and pray for prosperity, good health or whatever you wish. For those spending the new year in Japan, Fushimi Inari Shrine is one of the Shinto shrines to visit for your Hatsumode, or the first Shrine visit of the year!
The Fushimi Inari Shrine is Kyoto’s most sacred Shinto Shrines in this contrasting Edo-Era-meets-refined-boulevard destination. Like an alternate universe, it is so easy to get lost in Kyoto’s charm. While many travellers see this as another tourist spot to tick off their bucket list, actual Religion Shintoists pay respect to the god of rice, Inari. Kitsune (fox) messengers guard the grounds, one in particular is said to hold the key to the abundant rice granaries.
Tens of thousands of Torii Gates donated by businessmen and companies who express their gratitude line up the path towards the summit of Mount Inari. These vermillion gates are worth at least 175,000 yen and could be worth millions of yen when it’s diameter is thicker. Many give up at the fork intersection of Yosutsuji and turn their backs.
When I was on my way up, several old Japanese women religiously climbed the stairs with either an umbrella or a cane, and I felt embarrassed that my young age couldn’t keep up with them. If they could climb, I most certainly could.
233 meters above sea level later, I had reached the top of Mount Inari, which I spent by gazing in awe at another of the many sub-shrines or Bunsha that I have passed by. Praying on top of Mount Inari is another to-do when in Fushimi Inari Shrine, and after the three hour hike, I couldn’t pass the opportunity.
The rewards of reaching the summit? There’s a feeling of accomplishment and wonder after such hike. On the way down, I stopped by the Goddess of Mercy Boddhisattva Kannon’s statue, cleansed using Temizu and prayed.
Anyone who has been quite a traveller to these shrines know that there’s always a shortcut around the perimeter to reach the climax of the experience. Fushimi Inari’s climax on the other hand matured as you pass by several street stalls that entice you for a food trip.
Everything seems to be worth 500 yen, from Yakitori’s, to Kushikatsu and the ever famous Takoyaki. I couldn’t have had better Takoyaki experience than this.
Navigation and Map: How to Get to Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine
Location: 68 Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 612-0882, Japan
Opening Hours: 24/7
The easiest way to get to Fushimi Inari is to use the JR Nara Line and head towards the Inari Station. The Fushimi Inari Shrine entrance is right across the station.
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