Now while anyone who knows a thing or two about tourism in Kyoto has probably heard more than enough about the Fushimi Inari shrine, after having visited this gorgeous, sprawling, mountain shrine myself I honestly think it deserves its fame. Since I was already interested in visiting Shinto shrines, loved hiking mountains and knew Fushimi Inari was one of the largest and well known in Kyoto, deciding to visit was a no-brainer for me. I visited a lot of gorgeous places during my month and a half there but I honestly think Fushimi Inari was one of my favorites.
Whether it was the thousands of stunning, scarlet Tori Gates framing the path to the mountain summit, the ancient fox statues and shrines to the Shinto deity of rice and wealth (called Inari Okami) represented by its fox messengers dotting the path, or the towering pines and bamboo rustling in the breeze, I was enthralled by the space from start to finish.
Halfway up the mountain there is even a popular sitting area where one can see the entirety of Kyoto shrunken down in the distance. During my long rest there (it was a typical blazingly hot day) I remember my friends and I commenting on how different and oddly futuristic Kyoto seemed to look from way up in the mountains with its raised train rails glittering in the distance and how odd it was to be able to observe such an old city from this angle.
Even with the city in the distance the mountain really made me feel as if I had gone back in time a bit and felt peaceful in a way. After we finally reached the summit and payed our respects to the shrine to Inari at the top, observing and imitating the native worshipers who were praying when we arrived, we ended up making our way back down via and alternate path that led through the mountain’s bamboo forests instead of the Tori gate path. It really was a beautiful forest in a beautiful shrine on a beautiful mountain and we all agreed that it was a great experience.