The Fushimi Inari shrine is meant for grain, wine, rice, and general prosperity. It’s most recognizable for its thousands of torii of all sizes, purchased by individuals, organizations, or companies for luck. The amazing result of such a tradition is a breathtaking 4K mountain hike covered in these bright red torii gates.
We spent about half a day here, and I would say the hike can range from easy to moderate to kind of hard depending on how far, how fast, and how high you want to go. I think next time I’m there, I’d like to spend a day there just enjoying the atmosphere of the place, probably bring a bento (ekiben anyone?) along.
When you first get there, you’re greeted by a large gate tori that you can actually see from the train station, so the place is not hard to find.
As you walk in, you’ll find shrine buildings, some shops, and some vendors selling shrine goods. Further in, you’ll start to see the rows and rows of torii gates. The winter morning we went, it was rather crowded.
Luckily, that crowd was only at the bottom, front gate area, and as we went deeper up the mountain, the crowds diminished, partly because there are some different paths and sights to stop and enjoy and partly because I think a lot of people didn’t have the time or possibly the gumption to hike farther up. It’s a lot of uphill, but very worth the effort.
I rather liked the weather we were in going up there, being a little gloomy, cold, and wet really set a certain otherworldly ambience. The forest environment gave us beautiful nature landscapes to admire at every turn. At one point, I even sat down on a little concrete ledge on the side of the path and busted out my hot thermos for a little mountain hot tea time.
There are subshrines along the path, with an especially concentrated area of them at the relative top of the hike.
For sale up there are tiny torii, which we had to resist buying one to bring home for our cats, and they also have offering sets for sale, as there are also graves along with shrines for deity worship.
Unexpectedly, there was a good sized body of water up there as well. It’s just another example of the beautiful environments to enjoy up there, a veritable paradise for any professional or hobby photographers.
There was also a amazing view of the city from a convenient perch. This would be a great place to bust out that bento. I think I had beef jerky from Whole Foods with me then, but I think an onigiri rice ball or a local ekiben lunch box from the train station would have been much more awesome.
As you can see from all the amazing images, the hike might be a little arduous, but it’s quite worth the effort, and if you’re not exactly in tip top physical fitness, there are plenty of places to stop and catch your breath before moving on, and the stops will be a pleasant experience. I caught a glimpse of a closed tea shop up there that had tatami mat seating surrounded by panoramic window views of the forest. I’m not sure if I can afford it, but hopefully next tim, the place is open and not too ridiculously priced.
Next up, for the anniversary of the first atomic bomb dropped by humanity, Hiroshima.