Fushimi Inari Taisha is the most popular spot for foreign tourists in Kyoto.
You may have seen a photo of the vermilion torii gates lined up in a row.
It is a mysterious and photogenic shrine like no other, and it is a place where you should definitely go if you are visiting Kyoto for the first time. When going with kids there are a few things to be careful of. These are our recommendations of how to enjoy the number one tourist spot in Kyoto when visiting with kids of different age groups.
What is Fushimi Inari Taisha, the Popular Sightseeing Spot in Kyoto?
It is said that there are 300 shrines in Kyoto city. A well known representative of Kyoto shrines is Fushimi Inari Taisha. It is located in the southern part of Kyoto City and is the main shrine of Inari Shrines which is believed to have about 30,000 shrines nationwide. Founded in 711 predating the capital’s move to Kyoto, it has a history of over 1300 years.
It is believed to benefit business success, industrial prosperity, home safety, road safety and entertainment skills. It is bustling with many worshipers throughout the year. And is especially busy around the New Year when it is the most visited shrine in the Kinki region and the second most visited in the country, as many Japanese visit Shinto shrines at the beginning of the year. As of 2018 it had won first place for 5 consecutive years in the ranking of popular tourist spots in Japan by TripAdvisor.
The messenger of the Inari god is a white fox and you can see many fox statues in the grounds. As the practice of dedicating a torii gate has continued since the Edo period, in addition to the famous Senbon Torii (thousand torii gates), there are approximately 10,000 torii gates throughout the Inariyama (Mt.Inari), and it continues to increase.
Visting Fushmi Inari, the Top Tourist Spot in Kyoto, with Kids
Visiting with kids ages 5 and up
Fushimi-Inari Taisha, in fact, the entire mountain called Inariyama is considered to be a holy area for the Shinto religion, and there are many shrines from the foot of the main shrine to the summit. Even after passing through the thousand torii gates crowded with tourists, there are even more torii gates continuing up the mountain. There are many small shrines and statues of foxes along the way, so you can feel the unique atmosphere of the shrine, while also enjoying moderate trekking.
If you are visiting with kids full of energy, we recommend taking your time and making your way around the entire area of the mountain. While parents take in the photogenic scenery, kids can enjoy a fun day moving their bodies.
However, don’t forget to wear comfortable clothes and shoes! Also bring plenty of water if it is hot and be aware there are restrooms at only a few locations.
[Time required: About 3 hours]
Visiting with kids ages 3-4
If you have kids of the age who can enjoy hiking, once you go through the thousand torii gates keep going a bit further. Even though the vermilion torii gates are still lined up, there are fewer tourists, so you can have more time to take photos.
Along the way, there is a pond (Shin-ike) surrounded by trees, and you can enjoy the mysterious atmosphere unique to the shrine. If you walk a little further from the pond, you will reach the Yotsutsuji intersection where you can see a view of Kyoto city. There is a rest area called “Nishimuraya” that, founded in 1864, has been there for more than 150 years, so you can enjoy the view below while eating soft serve ice-cream or other treats. We recommend this course for those visiting with energetic 3-4 year olds as the kids will be satisfied with their time there.
[Time required: About 2 hours]
Visiting with toddlers
If your toddler is at the stage that you can enjoy a short walk with them, you can leave your stroller at Sanshu-den (the restaurant in the shrine) for a small fee of 300 yen. Then you can take a walk to the rear shrine (Okusha) and back. You can enjoy the exoticness of the thousand torii gates while walking along the gentle cobblestones and stone steps. Toddlers are sure to enjoy the bright colors. There is no need to worry even with small kids, as it is a one-way route to the Okusha and many tourists walk slowly and stop now and then to take photos.
Be prepared, however, as you may be asked to carry your child in some cases. From the Okusha, you can go back down to the entrance through the other row of torii gates.
[Time required: About 1 hour]
Visiting with infants
You can enjoy the must-see thousand torii gates in Fushimi Inari Taisha even with your infant. However, even though there is a slope on the side of the main hall (Honden), there is only a stairway made of stone to go to the entrance of the thousand torii gates. So it is better to go up with a stroller and enjoy the atmosphere at the entrance, or if you would like to go up a little more you can leave your stroller at Sanshu-den (for a small fee) and use a baby carrier. You can use a stroller to walk through the thousand torii gates, and some people actually do it, but it is not recommended because it is a rattled cobblestone and there are a lot of people.
In addition, please be aware that there are no nursing rooms or restrooms with diaper changing tables inside the shrine. There are multi-functional toilets with diaper changing tables at JR Inari Station and Keihan Fushimi Inari Station, so it may be better to use one of those facilities before your visit to the shrine.
[Time required: About 30 minutes]
Fushimi Inari Taisha with Kids – 3 Reasons You Should Go
1. Even kids are impressed by the rows of photogenic torii gates
Rows of vivid vermilion torii gates is a special scene that makes it easy to feel a different culture, not only for adults but also for kids. If you want your kids to feel that they are in Japan, or if you want them to feel a different culture in a unique way, there is no better place.
2. It’s exciting to see the fox statues all around
Statues of the fox, the messenger of Inari God, can be found everywhere in the shrine grounds. It is fun and exciting for kids to find them because they are in various shapes. Ask how many they think they’ll be able to find before starting and it’s sure to turn into a sort worship experience the kids will enjoy.
3. Checking out the stalls and shops along the road leading away from the shrine is a lot of fun
The road leading away from Fushimi Inari is lined with lots of shops and food stalls compared to other shrines. Among them you can find shops which have rice crackers in the shape of a fox face and some of the shops even hand-bake the crackers one by one in front of the store. You should be careful as it is a road which cars are allowed to drive on, but it is a lot of fun for kids to browse the various shops after visiting the shrine.
[Hours] Always open
[Admission] Free of charge
[Telephone] 075-641-7331 (Japanese only)
[Access] A short walk from JR Nara Line “Inari Station” and a 5-minute walk from Keihan Main Line “Fushimi Inari Station”
[Official website] http://inari.jp/en/