In the morning I took a bus down to southern Kyoto to check out one of the city’s premier attractions, the Fushimi Inari Shrine. If you’ve ever looked at any travel advertisements for Japan then you’ve probably seen at least one photo of this place. Fushimi Inari is famous for having thousands of vermillion torii gates, each one donated to the shrine by an individual or an organization. The temple is dedicated to the Shinto god of rice and along with the torii gates you’ll also see a lot of fox statues because foxes were said to be messengers of the rice god. Behind the temple there is trail that leads up a small mountain. The trail is where most of the torii gates are located and at one point the trail splits into two paths, each with gates so close to each other that they effectively form hallways. The farther you go up the mountain the less common the torii gates become, and most people don’t go all the way up. Personally, I stopped about halfway up the mountain at a spot with some decent views of Kyoto. I didn’t go any higher because I had read online that the view from the top of the mountain isn’t that great. After resting a few minutes I started my way back down to the main part of the shrine, where I encountered a veritable sea of tourists who were now flooding the shrine grounds.
Pro Tip: If you want any chance of getting clean photos of torii gate hallways you need to arrive there as early as possible, especially if you’re visiting on a weekend or during peak tourism season. Fushimi Inari can get busy within half an hour of sunrise and once the tour buses start showing up (usually a bit after 8:00am) the lower shrine area becomes a crowded zoo.