Fushimi Inari is not just any shrine. It is a sprawling complex of many shrines, buildings, torii gates, graveyards, and wooded paths built into the side of a mountain. It has continuously been added to since it’s founding in 711 AD.
The front gate, and largest complex is a short walk from the train station at the bottom of the mountain.
The fox is considered the symbol of the Inari shrines, and there are statues of them everywhere.
A pleasant, but not to scale map of the main routes along the shrine complex.
The beginning of the long torii gate trail:
There are hundreds of these gates, and you can follow them all the way up to the top of the mountain.
Each one is inscribed with the name of the person or company that paid (in the form of a donation) for it to be built. I noticed some from companies such as Sony and Toyota.
As we climbed farther up the mountain, the crowds began to thin out so we could get some nice pictures.
Through the cobbled stone paths and snaking stairs we saw hundreds of different shrines and memorials dedicated to the memories of ancestors and more recent family members.
At various points along the trek there were rest areas with Japan’s ubiquitous vending machines and cafés. There was once such area, which included a larger shrine, overlooking a lake.
More fox-related imagery:
And near the top we were treated to a view of southern Kyoto: