Fushimi Inari Shrine : A Thousand Gates Shrine in Kyoto

Fushimi gates

Fushimi Inari shrine is known as a shrine of thousand gates located in Kyoto. TripAdvisor ranks Fushimi Inari as number one tourists attractions in Kyoto.  

I first saw the Fushimi Inari shrine in Memoir of Geisha, a movie that was made based on the American best selling novel by Arthur Golden. The Memoir of Geisha is about a life of a retired geisha named “Sayuri” (played by Zhang Ziyi), her survival in life and love story with “the Chairman” (played by Ken Watanabe). The Fushimi Inari shrine appeared in the scene while Sayuri and Chairman strolled along the gates of the shrine. The Fushimi Inari shrine stayed in my mind ever since I watched that movie. At that time, I had never thought that I would be staying in Japan. Today, I am in Kyoto and will visit the shrine. 

We went to Fushimi Inari before 9 am taking Keihan line, getting off at the Fushimi Inari station. The station looked quiet, which made us happy, we thought if the station was quiet the famous spot would be quiet too. How naive we were. 

Fushimi station

9 am was not early to beat the crowd.  The shrine was already crowded when we arrived there. Tourists (such as ourselves) were interested in taking pictures of the gates that span along the hill, while many Japanese were more interested in praying.

The Fushimi Inari is the largest shrine and also serves as the principal of all shrines in Kyoto. Praying in this shrine is believed to bring good fortune for business. That explained groups of men in suit praying in the shrine when we were there.

The praying spot is located at the main shrine, behind  behind the giant tori gate.

Fushimi entrance gate

There are fox statues on both sides of the stairs. These fox statues resembling guardian dog or “kaimanu”. The foxes embody messages from the Inari god.

Fushimi entrance temple

Dog at Fushimi

After the main shrine, we took 5 minutes walk to the thousand gates. 

The gates lining up the hill resembling wonderful picturesque of the shrine. The gate is one of the main reasons for visiting the shrine. Other reasons are hiking and pictures taking (who wouldn’t like taking pictures of vibrant colour of thousand gates). It’s no entrance ticket, free of charge.

Fushimi gates 2 Fushimi gates 3 Fushimi gates 4   me at fushimi

The shrine was crowded but people did not gather at only one spot. They walked around the area as soon as finishing taking pictures. So, there was a plenty of chance to take pictures as long as we were willing to wait. 

Thanks for reading.


  • Getting there: From Kyoto station take JR Nara line stops at Inari station or take Keihan line from Gion-Shijo stops at Fushimi Inari station or take Kyoto City bus from Kyoto station stops at Fushimi Inari Taisha station and take 7-10 minutes walk on foot
  • The shrine opens early morning until late. No entrance fee.
  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Like many other old shrines and temples in Japan, many part of the Fushimi Inari shrine are inaccessible for people with wheelchairs and baby strollers. 

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