Fushimi Inari Taisha

My favorite place in Japan from a tourist’s point of view is probably Fushimi Inari Taisha, the large shrine to Inari, diety of cereal grains and business. It’s a really quick train ride away from central Kyoto. If you read Japanese, you might be interested in the official site.

Even if you’ve never been, you’re probably already familiar with the site. It was featured in Memoirs of a Geisha. It was also the inspiration for the art installation “The Gates” by Christo and Jean-Claude. The epic arrangement of Shinto gates (鳥居 / torii) packed so tightly together creates an amazing, surreal illusion – you feel as though you’re walking through an otherworldly hallway.

I’ve been to Fushimi Inari Taisha 4 or 5 times now, and it sure doesn’t get old. It’s sort of like Miyajima in that it stands apart from other shrines and temples. If that sort of thing isn’t up your alley, you may find yourself thinking “if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.” You won’t get that feeling here. Visiting at different times of day, in different seasons, etc. all change the scenery drastically.

I included Fushimi Inari in my old student travelogue from my study abroad days. You can see a video clip that I put together by clicking here (it will open in an overlay) or by visiting the original. I also wrote about it a few years ago when I spent Christmas vacation in Kyoto at the J-Hoppers hostel with friends, including J-Web vlogger/blogger Claytonian.

If you do go, I recommend taking the extra time to wander up to the upper loop past the lakes. I love the view at the top – you can even see Kyoto Tower. Most people tend to go a little bit into it and turn back, imagining that things look the same all the way up. The truth is, the scenery changes. Fox statues, mini-torii and all sorts of devotionals, incense burners, and the like are scattered throughout the area. Perhaps you’ll meet and befriend a shrine cat there like I’ve done on more than one occasion.

The theme for this Japan Blog Matsuri was “your favorite place in Japan.” It’s being hosted by Shane at the Nihon Sun.

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  • http://gakuranman.com/ Mike

    I've been here! 'Tis is a great place ^^ Would love to go back with a better camera and spend some quality time. Damn hundreds of mosquitos though!

  • Brian R

    Ha, why does the 2nd picture have megane on the first pillar on the left? I doubt that means “classes” since its in katakana, but it was just strange at first sight.

  • http://www.japannewbie.com/ Harvey

    The pills all have some sponsors name on them, that one is sponsored by an eye glasses company.

    I love this place too. It has the visual impact that makes it a great place to show visitors around, and it also is just out of the way enough to feel special!

    Here is a blog post from when I visited in 2004.
    http://www.japannewbie.com/2004/04/18/kyoto-fus

  • John

    I just got an horrible (in a good way) flashback. I was there in October 08. I visited Kyoto with a friend, we rented some bycicles and we were told that it's a nice place to visit. The thing is we didn't know what was waiting… 2 hours of stair climbing!!! Now only I realize it was worth every step. That just made me soooo nostalgic.

    Thanks Deas. And great blog by the way!

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/starsandsea Jeannette

    I regret not walking further among the torii there. I went when it was dark, and it was so incredibly creepy, and my boyfriend was purposefully making me more scared, so we left not long after arriving. I really want to go back… but probably during the daytime. :P

  • Pingback: My Favorite Place in Japan - Different Perspectives | Nihon Sun

  • http://www.sunglassesuk.com/Polaroid_Sunglasses.asp Polaroid Sunglasses

    After reading your post and their comments, It seems to me that Fushimi Inari Taisha is really a great to spend… Thanks for posting this… Japan really improves their tourism..