Exploring Fushimi Inari-taisha, the shrines hill in Kyoto

It isn’t surprising that I woke up really early, after a long night resting, this was kind of expected. So, why not use that in my favor? If you want to enjoy properly a touristic place, the best is to go really early so that you can be there with fewer people around you. Jet lag can also be a good friend if one knows how to use it properly, and so I did it. My first destination was Inari, to explore the shrines hill almost all by myself!

Path of shrines splitting in two ways
Path of shrines splitting in two ways

Fushimi Inari-taisha

I went to the train station, and I took a train to Inari, I read about that hill and all the shrines, all the photos I saw looked like a really cool place, that easily can be spoiled by crowds. I had almost all the hill for myself, and a few other tourists that decided to go early as well. The weather was also helping to be less crowded, it was a bit rainy but not enough to spoil the fun either. I managed to take several photos without a single soul around, I had my time to enjoy the place, the mystical area around, to take photos and to have my relaxing walk through the hill.

But guess that not only early tourists go there during the first hours of the day… I saw a few priests having their walks too, one of them, that looked like he was in a higher place, considering the way he was dressed, had such a wide umbrella that literally was almost touching both sides of the shrines. So big, that he couldn’t see what was ahead of him, and guess who was there? Yep, me! I had to say a few times “excuse me” in a very crappy Japanese, for him not to hit me, and he did it anyway!

Going around the mountain was really pleasant, few people, contact with nature just next to the big city, the first bamboo forest I saw, a lake at half way to the top and a lot of photos! The area has a lots of stations through the whole path where there are vending machines, two or three restaurants and places to buy souvenirs, also a nice way to make stops along the way.

Exploring Fushimi Inari-taisha, the shrines hill in Kyoto
Exploring Fushimi Inari-taisha, the shrines hill in Kyoto

The way back was even better, realizing how great the jet lag was when crossing with a big crowd of tourists. Waking up really early is the best way to enjoy highly touristic spots with fewer people! Even before I got to the main junction I started noticing more people, when I got to the station at the junction between the two paths that go around the mountain, then I saw the crowds! There I had an ice cream, and I sat for a few minutes enjoying it and seeing even more people passing by, I didn’t have a clue how many I would find on my way back yet…

The path starts with just one way, and at some point it splits in two forming a loop. Until the junction I mentioned before it is just one way, then people can decide which way they want to reach the top. So, since I was already coming down, I had to pass again through the one-path way and it was ridiculous the amount of people, taking a clear photo was almost impossible, sometimes was even hard to walk peacefully.

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That walking made me hungry, I guess I am always up for eating and I was loving Japanese food! I walked a bit around trying to find a place not so close to the temple, maybe I would get a cheaper deal, but I ended up going to the area just outside the main entrance in Inari. It wasn’t expensive, Japan is not that expensive as people think, might be for people living there, but not for tourists. Eating is fairly cheap, and fresh food can be found everywhere. After the lunch, I had to buy a few souvenirs to take back to Europe, and there isn’t lack of shops around that temple.

By Gil Sousa

Portuguese expat in Cork, traveler and food enthusiastic.

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