First things first, I would like to say a big warm welcome to the Japan series! In September I spent some time exploring the amazingness that is Japan and I am so excited to start sharing all of my stories, pictures and adventures with you. There are a whole bunch of Japanese travel related posts and pieces in the works, so stay tuned, this is gonna be fun!
After a long flight into Tokyo and an amazingly scenic shinkansen ride from Tokyo to Kyoto I was slathered in sunscreen and ready to go exploring.
The Lower East Nine hostel was a great base from which to explore, as it was a few steps from a metro station and a 10 minute walk from Kyoto Station. Not only was this particular hostel in a great location, it was also just downright great. The beds were comfy, the showers hot, the staff also incredibly hot, the WiFi fast and the cafe downstairs was just plain pretty. Only downside was that the stairs leading to the dorms on the first floor (or second floor for those of you who aren’t familiar with buildings labelling the ground floor the 1st floor) are about as steep as the ascent to the summit of Everest – it makes life a little difficult for those of us who are about as coordinated as baby giraffes taking their first steps.
During my time in Japan I hung out with this awesome chicky named Kaisha! She was just as excited for some Kyoto exploring as I was.
Getting to Fushimi Inari ended up being much easier than I had thought it would be. From Kyoto Station we took a JR Train about four stops towards Inari and boom! We were there. So bloody easy! This was just the beginning of my love affair with the Japanese Railway system, but that is another story for another day – once again, stay tuned!
Once we arrived at Inari Station, getting to the temple was incredibly simple. Believe me when I say that you won’t need any maps or GPS. Just walk outside of the station and you will immediately see the first of many orange gates, and then you simply have to follow them.
The first temples at the site are undeniably gorgeous, but can be overlooked by many visitors, as the main attraction of Fushimi Inari is the thousands of gates packed together to create incredibly beautiful tunnels. Now, as beautiful as those tunnels are, make sure to take your time at the first temples, they really are worth more than just a few moments of your time.
There are many bells on these temples – it is customary to throw a coin into the coffer, ring the bell and say a prayer.
Before too long you will arrive at the thousands of dark orange gates I mentioned above, and believe me, they are worth the trip!
If you don’t think a bunch of orange gates sound all that special, then keep on scrolling and you might start to come around…
Over 5000 individual torii gates were used to construct this stunning pathway in the 8th century. This temple was built as a dedication to the God of rice and sake (my kinda God right there) but over time such deities have fallen out of relevance.
Now the temple is one of the countries most well-known and most beautiful temples. Thousands upon thousands of foreigners and native Japanese people flock to this shrine each and every year to marvel at an undeniably unique shrine.
For those planning on visiting Fushimi Inari, my best advice would be that if you want to see it in the daylight, try to get there as early as possible in the morning – we arrived at about 11am and the place was completely packed. Getting photographs of the tunnels without any other people in them required a heck of a lot of patience!
If an early morning rise just isn’t possible (we have all been there) but you aren’t keen on competing with the crowds either, then luckily, there is another option.
Visit Fushimi Inari at night!
After the sun has gone to bed, all the lanterns light up and the temple becomes an entirely new adventure. The best part? Only a teeny tiny fraction of travellers seem to know about this and as a result, when I visited, the place was almost empty.
Although you won’t have to fight off other travellers, be prepared to fight off quite a few hungry mosquitoes. Make sure you bring insect repellent!
My favourite part of visiting under the cover of night was how everything looked entirely different. Earlier that day I had not even really noticed this part of the temple, but when it was all lit up by lanterns and the moon it transformed into something that had me doing a double take.
Fushimi Inari really is a special place.
T H E L O W D O W N
Getting to Kyoto: Though Kansai airport is the closest airport to Kyoto, it is often cheaper to fly into Shin-Osaka airport and catch a short 30 minute train to Kyoto
Getting to Fushimi Inari-Taisha: From Kyoto Station, catch the JR Nara line towards Nara or Joyo and get off at Inari Station – this trip is included with a JR Rail Pass
Fushimi Inari-Taisha: Entrance is a whopping ¥0
Lower East Nine Hostel: A bed in a 4-bunk dorm will set you back ¥3800 ($46) per night, click here to book
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1 with M.Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8 lens
Threads: White shirt by H&M, maxi skirt and maxi dress both by Tigerlily Swimwear
Remember: Either get up early or be prepared to bring insect repellent
Don’t forget to add me on Snapchat and Instagram – @wwellend – for more foolishness and travel adventures!
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