There was not a single day in Japan that we didn’t get lost. Having said that, I would not want for you to have the same fate as we did..unless you like being lost in a foreign country. Maybe you enjoy the mere thrill of it? If so, don’t read this post or don’t do any research at all. However, if you do not want to waste precious travel time, I suggest you continue reading on =)
Here are my tips for visiting the famous and photo worthy Fushimi Inari Shrine:
1. TRAVEL EARLY: Yes, many others already say that but I cannot stress it enough. You would want to get there before the crowds start. There are tons of other tourists wanting to visit this place on any given day. The earlier the better. Fushimi Inari is open 24 hours so as early as can be! And to be early, I move on to my next tip…
2. STUDY YOUR ROUTE WELL. Aside from knowing your proper entrance gates, double check wit Google Maps on proper location. I made the painful mistake of following a pin that was FAAAAAR from where we needed to be 😩 We wasted almost an hour trying to get back on track. If you have a concierge or a friendly manager or airbnb owner wherever you are staying, please always confirm with them where you intend to go for the day. Locals (not maps) know best!
3. THE WHOLE PLACE ISN’T ENTIRELY STROLLER FRIENDLY so prepare to CARRY your stroller for at least 1 or 2 full flight of stairs if you want to see all of the the famous and seemingly never ending red Torii Gates.
4. Obviously, A BABY CARRIER IS MORE IDEAL but if you must bring a stroller because you intend to be out the whole day or like to avoid meltdowns because of kids wanting naps in a stroller, then embrace the fact that you can only see the bottom portion out of the whole area. If you decide to carry your baby in a carrier, prepare to walk a lot with the extra weight. It is a mountain trail! So, it’s a tough decision that must be made before you head out for the day.
5. REST WHEN YOU CAN. I doubt that very young children can walk the whole Torii Gate pathway without wanting pee breaks, snack break or just general foot rests. WARNING: It is a total hike of 4 kilometers one way alone!
There is a beautiful rest area facing a garden close to the entrance on the left side. Perhaps it wasn’t really meant for those going up, but really meant for those coming down – – but we chanced upon it anyway because we had a stroller and that was the only path possible for it to roll up!
It is nice to sit, enjoy the view and relax here before attempting to walk all the way up.
6. BE PATIENT. If you didn’t listen to the very first advice of coming early, there will be hordes of people passing through these gates. We had to wait maybe 10 minutes before taking a single decent photo. Then wait again another 10 minutes because a new batch of tourists would walk and take photos, too.
7. SEE WITH FRESH EYES. You are obviously there to see Thousand Torii Gates, or maybe look out also for the fox statues known to be as messengers of the gods for their rice harvests. My advice is to also see things as children would. My son spotted a tiny companion for the duration of our Fushimi Inari Torii Gates journey. As fascinating as I thought the Torii Gates was, my son was totally interested in his new found insect friend!
We are no stranger to the praying mantis as we have these back home, too, but we liked the thought that this Japanese praying mantis could act entirely different. We were gentle with the mantis and did say goodbye even if my son wanted to bring him home to our hotel.
8. IF YOU AREN’T PATIENT WITH PEOPLE, I suggest you take your photos outside the Torii Gates instead of inside them. Not many people would want photos taken from that angle which leaves you with shots like these anytime of day!
9. FOOD STALLS are found on the leftside exit. Now we made the mistake of coming at an odd time – almost lunch so the kids were famished and wanting to eat from every stall we passed. You should definitely go hike immediately after having a big breakfast to avoid hunger pangs. If not, have a snack by these food stalls before going all the way up!
That’s it! I hope you enjoyed all my tips for the Fushimi Inari Shrine. We never made it to the top but that’s okay. I know I’ll be back someday when my kids are older and I will attempt to finish the 4 kilometer mountain hike with them then.