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With its iconic and mysterious corridors of red gates (Torii) set in the Inariyama (mount Inari) in southern Kyoto, Fushimi Inari Taisha is one of the most famous attractions in Kyoto, if not the whole of Japan.
Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine is dedicated to the Shinto God of rice, Inari, and is considered the most important of thousands of shrines dedicated to Inari. Each Torii gate is donated to the shrine by a business or individual as they believe it brings good luck and good business to the donor.
While the actual shrine buildings are pretty and interesting, the main reason people come here is to see the endless corridors of orange/red Torii gates.
You can hike up the summit of Inari mountain, which will take around 2 hours if you walk at a normal pace. But actually, the summit isn't very interesting and the views are not good (they’re blocked by graves and trees). There is a rest stop halfway up where the path split into different directions. This is the best place for views over Kyoto.
Go at night. Honestly, it’s far better than going in the day time. If you go in the day time you will hardly be able to move and you will NOT get any photos with no one in them. Don’t believe what you see on social media etc, where there are long sections of corridors with no one in them. The only way we got photos is because we blocked both ends of a few sections to get some official photos (don’t try this yourself).
At the first main stop (mentioned above) you'll be rewarded with epic views over Kyoto. In the evening/ night you will hardly see people at all and the views over Kyoto city will be stunningly illuminated with all the city lights.
Fushimi Inari is rumoured to be haunted. In fact, two guests on one of my epic Kyoto adventure tours (click here to find out more) actually told me about something very strange that happened to them there. They went to Fushimi Inari at night time, around 21:00. There were only one or two people there at the beginning area, but as they continued further up the mountain, they were on their own. The two girls were taking some photos when suddenly out of nowhere, a young schoolboy came running along one of the corridors screaming hysterically as if he was being chased, looking between the Torii gate posts out into the forest and running back and forth. He then ran up to one of the girls and grabbed her arm, screaming and laughing hysterically. The girls asked if he was okay but he kept screaming and laughing, then suddenly he ran away into the mountain and his voice disappeared. The girls were understandably taken aback but expected maybe a friend of the schoolboy, or a mother / relative to walk past… but nothing. The two girls looked at each other and asked each other if they had seen that and if they had been dreaming! They continued up Fushimi Inari and about 15/20 mins later, they were at a particularly old section of corridor of Torii gates so they decided to take some more photos. While one of the girls, Ash, was taking photos of the other, Nicola, she became aware of a Japanese lady standing right behind her. You know when you can just see someone in your peripheral vision? So she hurriedly took the photos of Nicola because this lady was behind her waiting to pass by. So she took the photos then turned around to apologise to the lady... and there was no one there. Both Nic and Ash don’t believe in ghosts or spirits but they were very creeped out and couldn't explain the occurrences.
Naturally, I had to assemble my team of Goonies to investigate. So we went to Fushimi Inari to explore at night. What we found was…… nothing. No ghosts, no weird schoolboys, or ghostly women in a hurry to get past. However, the atmosphere was very spooky and I highly recommend you come explore Fushimi Inari at night.