Imagine a seemingly endless array of shrines, cemeteries and mounds containing hundreds of thousands of red torii. Welcome to Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari Shrine, one of the most visited tourist attractions in Japan!
In 2005, its famous torii tunnel was used as a film set for the Hollywood movie “Memoirs of a Geisha,” an adaptation of Arthur Golden’s best-selling novel. This probably contributed to the popularity of the site. Since the COVID-related restrictions were lifted and travel became possible again, tourist numbers have soared.
Avoiding the Crowds
Fushimi Inari is open around the clock and there is no entrance fee. Going very early in the morning or after dark is perfectly feasible and provides an interesting contrast to the hustle and bustle of the day. Some even claim that the shrine has a slightly spooky atmosphere at night.
If you have to go there during the day at rush hour: The most obvious way to avoid the crowds is to zip through the torii tunnel near the entrance and focus on the less popular parts of the shrine. The areas beyond the iconic tunnel are accessible through an intricate network of paths and stairs leading to the summit of Mt. Inari.
Hidden Places, Winding Corners
The sheer size and layout of the site can be intimidating at first. However, you can spend hours exploring the site and never run out of hidden corners and winding paths to check out. There are even several small inns on the site where you can take a break and recharge your batteries.
The area is served by two railway stations: Inari on the JR Nara line and Fushimi-Inari on the Keihan main line. Both are just a short hop from their respective main hubs, Kyoto Station and Sanjo-Keihan.