Fushimi Inari-taisha 伏見稲荷大社

When my flight ended up being so delayed we were worried about fitting in everything we wanted to do. But after a quick google search discovered that Fushimi Inari-taisha was open 24 hours, meaning after our dinner of okonomiyaki we could just go and see it at night.

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Fushimi Inari-taisha is a Shinto shrine located right outside the JR Inari Station about 5 minutes and 140 yen away from Kyoto station. Not only is it open 24 hours but visiting Fushimi Inari-taisha is free. Behind the main buildings are trails leading up through the mountains through the forest of Mount Inari. These trails are covered with torii gates, reddish orange gates that mark that you’re heading to a shrine. Thousands of them cover the trails. The komainu- the pair of guardians at the entrance to shrines- for Fushimi Inari-taisha are foxes. The temple is for Inari, the god of rice whose messengers are foxes.

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There are two main trails up through the mountain, the torri lining these trails are donated by individuals and companies which are written on the back of the gates along with the date of the donation. Getting to the top takes 2-3 hours and we didn’t make it that far. There are also restaurants around that weren’t open when we visited that sell specialty foods like kitsune udon, aburaage (fried tofu), and inari sushi.

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It was interesting to walk the path at night. It wasn’t particularly crowded, making it easy to try and take photos.Though my camera struggles with night photos. There were lights set up about and the atmosphere was very peaceful. We could hear animals in the woods, a couple that sounded a bit strange, possibly a fox or monkey that surprised us. We got about halfway before turning back, a bit after a man went running back down the mountain past us in a hurry and my friends’ boyfriend got scared as we neared what looked like an old cemetery. It wasn’t a particularly difficult walk, light steps along the pathway and a river crossing along the side. I’m sure the experience is vastly different in the day time where you can see better and might be a bit more aware of the spiders and spider webs strewn between gates like cotton candy.

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