Travel Kyoto: Fushimi Inari’s infinite orange gates
Fushimi Inari Taisha is a bit of an other-worldly experience. It’s a seemingly endless series of massive orange Tori gates, which visitors walk through to travel up the side of the mountain. It is a long and steep climb, and there isn’t really a viewing point at the top. So making this climb is more about the journey and not the destination. Walking through the gates is a sensory overload. You’re surrounded by bright orange (not the most peaceful colour), light moves back and forth between the gates, and you need to focus on walking up the steps. Both times I went turned into evening, adding an extra challenge of limited visibility to the climb.
At many points on the mountain there are stops for worship and you’ll also see a lot of fox imagery throughout, as they are seen as messengers. About half the way up there were groups of wild cats sitting on the side of the path and perching on their claimed resting posts. I’m not sure how they got there, but I like to think they guard over the shrines.
I’ve been to Fushimi Inari twice, and the photos found here are from my first trip in October. Despite the fact that it was the 2nd weekend of the month, the weather was warm enough for shorts. The second time was in December, and while it was much colder (around 4 celsius) it was far from the freezing temperature I’m accustomed to back home. If you aren’t able to make the climb, there’s plenty to see at the base of the mountain, with the main shrine and shops. In October, we were lucky to find the path to the shrine lined with large lanterns.