Favorite crowded places – Fushimi Inari-Taisha

The Fushimi Inari-Taisha is a shrine in Kyoto which attracts masses of tourists with its thousands of Torii-gates, making it one of the popular Instagram spots — a place you want to avoid?

I like Kyoto. It's a lively city charming with its many old temples and shrines scattered throughout the city. Last year when I visited Kyoto again, it did feel a little overflown with tourists. But then again, if you stray from the main tourist spots and just visit one of the lesser known shrines or take a stroll through the nature surrounding Kyoto, you can find peace and quiet.

But still, every time I go to Kyoto, I try to visit the Fushimi Inari-Taisha. It is a very known spot, and looking on various social media, daytime visits just look awfully crowded. Well, with the situation right now (lockdown) and if you're already in Japan, you can probably have a completely different experience than in recent years.

Heatmap of pictures I took in the area in 2019 © Google Maps

The shrine is located at the base of a small mountain, with its trails and Torii gates scattered throughout the mountain. Also, there is a lesser known small bamboo forest near the main path at the bottom if you know where to look.
When I visit the area and do a small hike up the mountain, I roughly spend 3 hours in the area, picture taking and all. Most tourists will be at the base standing in line to get their social media pic, while walking up the mountain will reward you with lesser crowds.

When we visited in 2019, we got up early and arrived there around 7:30 am. There were only a few people at the entrance, and walking up the path, we always had some moments with no other people visible to us underneath the gates.

A hidden path through some bamboo.

A few minutes on the path, there are some toilets to the right. If you walk past them and continue on a small path, you will end up in between some bamboo. As we were there on a summer morning, a lot of tiny mosquitos were attacking us and we walked very briskly through the bamboo – and returned quickly to the main path with fewer blood suckers.

After that, we continued up the path and had a very pleasant morning hike. Temperatures were getting hot though so we walked down a different path through some woods and continued off through some different temples back to the city.

I will definitely visit Kyoto again and then, probably come back to the Fushimi Inari-Taisha. Maybe next time even earlier in the morning, or maybe a sunset walk?

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