I just got back from six wonderful days in Kyoto, Japan, and I have so much to share with you! I fell in love with Japan after my first trip there earlier this year, and I had to go back, especially with the very affordable air tickets from Taipei.
One of my favorite places I visited was the Fushimi Inari Shrine in the southern part of the city. It's the number one rated Kyoto attraction on TripAdvisor, and I must say it was not overrated at all as some tourist destinations tend to be.
Fushimi Inari is the head shrine of Inari, the god of rice as well as the patron of business. It sits on a mountain, and is most well-known for its thousands of brilliant red torii gates that span 4 kilometers of paths up and down the mountain. If the photos look familiar, it might be because scenes of the movie Memoirs of a Geisha were filmed at this location.
Fushimi-Inari is completely free, unlike many of Kyoto's other attractions. We started off at the base and slowly climbed up the mountain, enjoying the beautiful views. Near the bottom there were hordes of people on this sunny afternoon, but they started to thin out as we kept climbing upwards.
The climb isn't too difficult. There are steps all the way up and multiple resting areas with snacks and bathrooms. The hardest part of the climb was finding the brief second when the background was clear of other tourists so we could take photos!
The rest areas were interesting and often had little shrines that we explored before moving on.
You can actually pay for your name or business to be printed on a torii gate. All these black inscriptions are of the name of the donor and the date of the donation. The costs starts at 400,000 yen for a small gate, which isn't too bad to be part of such a significant historical place.
The climb is beautiful and takes about 2 hours to go up and then down, as the paths wind around the forested mountainside. However, don't expect a gorgeous view at the top - there's a lovely shrine but the views are blocked by trees so you won't get to see anything at a distance.
Fushimi-Inari is definitely worth dedicated a half-day in Kyoto, and I'm glad I got the opportunity to make a trip out there. It was a highlight of my visit!