The experience of hiking in Kyoto at Fushimi Inari-Taisha can only be described in the most eloquent of words. This shrine, built over centuries of time is a tribute to the Shinto beliefs. It begins as a wave of blood orange gates that sing a melodious song of loyalty. Each gate is one voice in a chorus singing hymnals to the sky. As the music cascades and swells, it sends the gates soaring, like a melody, up the mountain side to the god of the mountain Inari.
This is the best way I can describe the majestic beauty that is the Fushimi Inari-Taisha. It is mesmerizing to behold the sheer magnitude of what is witnessed here: 1300 years of dedication. This is a glorious shrine and a wonderful place for children to experience Japanese history and culture. It will be the best hike of your lifetime.
How to Experience the Best Hike of Your Life with Kids: Fushimi Inari-Taisha
What You Need For Hiking in Kyoto
- Walking Shoes/Hiking Shoes
- Rain Poncho
- Selfie Stick
- Hiking Backpack for Young Children/Baby Carrier
- Fanny Pack
- Water Bottles/Snacks
Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine with Kids
The Fushimi Inari-Taisha is the original shrine to which all other shrines, both in Kyoto and the whole of Japan, are affiliated. In February of the year 711, the deity Inari Okami took residence on the mountain Inariyama which gave birth to this shrine.
In the words of the Head Priest, it’s purpose is to “promote the harmonious co-existence of the deities, human beings, and nature that it represents.” To get to the shrine, you must hike through 10,000 tori gates to reach the top. Each gate represents an entrance into the next level of transcendentalism.
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Fushimi Inari-Taisa Shrine
Japan, 〒612-0882 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Fushimi Ward, Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, 68
No opening or closing hours
Entrance Fee: Free
After passing through the foremost Torii gate, located at the street entrance, you are met with a long path filled with a whirlwind of food and goods merchants, and small local shops filled with souvenirs and trinkets. Children will have a joyous time taking in the ambiance and everything there is to see.
The shrine is accessible from the main street in the Fushimi-ku ward area of South Kyoto. We stayed at an airbnb located just outside the gates in a perfect location for experiencing hiking in Kyoto.
Past all this hubub, there is a grand entrance plaza with several buildings and the traditional purifying station. From here, the Fushimi Inari-Taisha hike with kids begins.
Hiking in Kyoto at Fushimi Inari-Taisha with Kids
This is an Inari Shrine at which the religion of Shinto is practiced. There are 10,000 Torii gates that effortlessly crescendo the side of the mountain, and 32,000 sub shrines, or bunsha, located at various points along the path.
It is best to plan all day for hiking in Kyoto and to take it slowly. The hike to Fushimi Inari-Taisha is about appreciating each moment and meditating along the way.
Hiking in Kyoto at Fushimi Inari-Taisha is dusty in some areas and has large stone stairs in others. It is steep in some areas, narrow in others, and winds as it climbs the mountain. The mountain was built first, and the shrines are as a shrine atop it.
Maps and Guidance
There are maps along the hike, and parts of the path offer views of the entire city of Kyoto. The path from the entrance to reach the very top takes approximately 2 hours and can be daunting, tiring, and strenuous. It can also be fulfilling, rewarding, contemplative and introspective.
Hiking Fushimi Inari-Taisha with kids is an experience that transcends “getting out into nature”, or letting the kids play in the dirt. On this hike you become witness to something bigger than yourself, and marvel at the dedication it took to build this feat of wonder. It is structured beautifully weaving a conglomeration of nature and religion effortlessly.
Rest Stops while Hiking in Kyoto
During the hike up Fushimi Inari-Taisha there are places to rest along the way. Little feet will get tired and it’s part of the journey to make stops along the way. There are views to see, small shops to peek into, numerous cats to pet, and when the hike is done leisurely this can be a spiritually uplifting journey the whole family can delight in.
There are particular sections of the path that offers two ways to reach the next section. One way is direct and leads you up a large staircase; the other way sends you up several small staircases that weave their way through Torii gates up to the same stopping point. Our kids loved hiking Fushimi Inari-Taisha, and we call these ‘adventure trails’.
If you ever tire and feel as if you cannot make it, you can turn back at any point without difficulty. You also don’t have to go all the way up to the top.
Tori Gates at Fushimi Inari-Taisha
Each of the 10,000 Torii gates represents a gift given to the deity Inari Okami. In exchange for the gates, Inari will offer the giver prosperity, health and good fortune.
Each gate represents a wish of faith and a physical offering from those who believe in something greater than themselves. As man passes through each Torii gate he leaves the physical world more and more behind him, and comes closer to entering the spiritual world.
Hiking Fushimi Inari-Taisha with kids is an incredible worldschooling experience to understand different belief systems and philosophies practiced throughout Japan and other parts of the world.
Reverence Hiking in Kyoto
There is a quiet reverence that overcomes the masses as you make your way up the winding path. Whereas the entrance to the shrine is chaotic, loud and boisterous, as the hike begins it becomes quieter and quieter until the loudest noise is the sound of the birds in the trees. Hiking Fushimi Inari-Taisha with kids offers a chance for reflection, and contemplation.
For Kids: Hiking in Kyoto at Fushimi Inari-Taisha is strenuous, and not stroller friendly. Half way through, we just left the stroller by the side of the path to pick it up on our way down. There is a lot to view and witness here, despite the repetition of the gates, particularly when it comes to the cultures and traditions of the Japanese culture. This place does deserve respect, though children are welcome and commonplace and can be found laughing and running along the path.
Similar Shrines in Kyoto
In many respects, Rengeoin Sansusajendo, is very similar to Fushimi Inari-Taisha. The absolute faith and dedication to the purpose of building dedicatory shrines to deities is no more evident anywhere else than it is in these two shrines. They are magnificent to behold, and awe inspiring. Both are wonderful shrines to take your family and young kids.
Were you as overcome with hiking in Kyoto as we were? We’d love to hear your thoughts!
► Nap-Time Version: The most famous shrine in all of Japan. Pass through over 10,000 Torii gates as you go hiking in Kyoto and wind up the mountain to the top most point. Offers a different view and perspective of the culture and religion of Japan than any other shrine.
Read about more of our adventures in Japan by checking out our Diapers On A Plane Japan Vlog and our Kyoto Itinerary to plan the best trip ever!