Fushimi Inari in the historic and beautiful mountain shrine area in Southern Kyoto that is home to both the Fox gods and a ton of tourists who make their way to the sacred mountain.
Fushimi Inari is one of the most popular shrines in all of Japan and I got a chance to see why in 2019. The thousands of torii gates, shrines at every turn, and the mountain that leads to the main shrine at the peak are all incredible to experience. However, it is often crowded with tourists, locals, and school groups, so expect that if you visit (when things begin to return to normal).
The grounds are large enough though that you can explore a bit and there are plenty of food vendors around to get a quick snack before traveling up the mountain. Nowadays, I’m sure it’s a little less crowded, but during the normal times, school and tour groups are common place around the entire shrine. However, as you make your way up the winding path, there are tons of people and few places to stop to get a real good picture.
The temple was founded before the capital was back in 794, making it one of the oldest places to visit in all of Japan. There is no cost to visit the shrine and it is open 24/7, so if you want to venture up early in the morning or late at night, you are free to do so, just be prepared because a lot of the path does not have lights, making it a little tougher. The shrine at the top about 233 meters up and can take about 2 to 3 hours to make the entire journey, so be prepared and have the right footwear before you head up.
A quick note before you head up to the shrine, there are tons of food and souvenir vendors along the path to the temple grounds, so make sure you have some money on hand. You can find some good street food or a little gift along the way.