Memoirs of a Geek-sha at Fushimi Inari

It’s the number one tourist site in Japan, famous all over the world for its vermillion passageway of tori gates. Or, if you’re me, it’s the place where a young Saori runs and prays to meet the chairman again in Memoirs of a Geisha. This was one of the first spots on my list when I came to Japan. I too wanted to run through the gates and dream of love- turned out it was super hot and crowded so getting that shot wasn’t as easy as first anticipated. But we persevered and I got to live out my dream of being a young Japanese girl on her way to geisha-hood.


Memoirs of a Geek-sha

The site we are talking about is, of course, Fushimi Inari. This infamous shrine is located just outside of the city of the historical city of Kyoto, and makes a great day trip from there or Osaka. The main attraction here are the thousands of tori gates that line the pathways up to the summit of the sacred Mount Inari. This is one of the most important sites for worshipping the god Inari, the god of rice – which is linked to wealth in Japanese culture. Because of this, businesses pay large amounts of money to procure a gate of their own, to gain favour with this God. If you can read Japanese, you’l see the names of each of these businesses on the gates themselves.

Fushimi Inari Kyoto Japan

The hike up the mountain takes around 2-3 hours up and down (or a bit longer if you stop for a beer halfway up like we did), but the views and feeling of accomplishment are well worth it. Don’t worry if your legs give up before the top though, you can wander as much or as little as you like.


The view from the top


Foxes are thought of as Inari’s messengers, so you’ll see lots of fox statues scattered around the shrine. Every so often, there will be a break in the gates, and you’ll be greeted with smaller shrines adorned with miniature tori gates and red bibs. These are great places to explore, and I noticed many a tourist sailing straight past them. Wandering around these little spots also gives your legs a little break from the climb – which is always nice.



If you do reach the top, be sure to take the alternate route down to the one you took up. Both routes are fairly similar, but why repeat what you’ve already done? The two paths meet once again at a beautiful lake halfway up. If you don’t want to make the full climb, I definitely recommend at least reaching this spot!

Don’t neglect the buildings at the base of the mountain either. These are the ACTUAL shrine buildings, the tori gate madness is basically their back garden gone wild. The buildings are fairly similar to most shrines, but the amount of fox faces covering the shrine make it stand out a little more.


This was a tourist hotspot that I actually really enjoyed. The crowds were nowhere near as bad as I’d thought they’d be. Taking photos without anyone in frame was a little tricky, but it soon became a fun game, and resulted in more photos than usual!

What’s your favourite tourist hotspot that surpassed your expectations? Or do you avoid them at all costs? I’d love to know, so comment below!

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Memoirs of a Geek-sha




17 thoughts on “Memoirs of a Geek-sha at Fushimi Inari

  1. Liz says:

    Fushimi Inari is definitely up there among Japan must-see places! There’s something so mystical about the row of red tori.

  2. Subhadrika Sen says:

    this looks amazing. Japanese architecture always intrigues me. But the thought of climbing stairs and trekking that high is something that demotivates a lazy person like me.

  3. travelerettenyc says:

    I love Fushimi Inari! I went there on an Urban Adventures day tour in Kyoto. It was nice because we saw Tofukuji Temple too and those are a little out of the way of other attractions. I love the fox drawings-especially the dragon ones! It was also fun seeing the room with the horse statue that people throw their business cards into.

  4. Jen Morrow says:

    Lovely walking tour around these buildings. The foxes are darling, what other sculptures are hiding around every corner?

  5. chantae says:

    Cute πŸ™‚ I love the photo game you played of trying to find pictures without – the pictures are so pretty, it was definitely worth it. Would love to visit πŸ˜€

  6. Vyjay Rao says:

    I am really fascinated by Fushima Inari, the photo showing the gates with the names i Japanese is stunning. Japan is a lovely place and not over exposed which adds to its charm.

  7. A Busy Bees Life says:

    This is a really lovely post highlighting Fushimi Inari. I like the suggestion of taking alternate routes as well to discover and see other things. Wonder how people could just walk right past the fox statues! Would love to see them one day.

  8. The Editor says:

    If the ancient Japanese people have managed to create this kind of place, how much more we living in this modern era. It would be nice that we leave something meaningful for our next generations, either a form of architecture or good values. Thanks for your guide, I will add Fushimi Inari to my travel list 😊

  9. Liana says:

    That seems such a beautiful, interesting and culturally great in Japan! I love your pictures and I’d love to visit someday! I’ve always been attracted to Japan!

  10. Nickida says:

    Man this place looks beautiful. That’s the one thing I wish I had done more of when I was in college and before starting a family is get some international travel under my belt. Guess I’ll be doing it with hubby when we get old.

  11. iamsuanlee says:

    As someone who has visited Fushimi Inari, all I can say is YOU GO GIRL! Congratulations on making it to the top! It’s lovely and although a bit crowded, after a certain amount of time you tend to forget about the people (and the pain in your legs) and just focus on the scenery, tori gates and tranquility. It’s so beautiful.

  12. Teresa says:

    Wow, incredible! Everything is so vibrant and beautiful. Japan seems like such an amazing place to visit. Definitely on my travel bucket list!

  13. siniciliya says:

    I have always wanted to visit Fushimi Inari! Maybe next spring! I am feeling so inspired now after reading this post!
    But hiking 2-3 hours is a little bit too long for me!

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