You’ve seen it before. The red gates all over Instagram. A quick Google search of ‘red gates Kyoto’ will show you Fushimi Inari Taisha. Out of character, I didn’t really do any research on it prior to our trip to Japan. I only knew that it would be about 20 minutes from our hotel. Since we were pressed on time, I decided to look into it the night before, and I found out that it’s actually a HIKE. Everything is paved, but it’s still a hike, nonetheless. I don’t know why (well, I do – it’s because I did no research) but I thought it was just a bunch of red gates that you go up to, snap a few pictures, and be on your merry way. But NOPE. We ended up cramming this and Nara in the same day, since we had to get back to Tokyo that same evening to catch a flight to Shanghai. We didn’t even make it to the top. Half because we didn’t have enough time, and half because our feet were dying (we had already spent the past week walking around Tokyo all day).
We got to Fushimi at around 9 and it was already packed. If you want to avoid the crowds, you’ll have to get there at 7 am at the minimum, especially if you want the perfect IG shot. Make sure you check out the food stands in the area. Sure, it’s a bit over-priced, but it does taste pretty good. They don’t open until 9 AM-ish, so if you do get there around that time, you can get a good snack for the hike.
The best part of Fushimi? IT’S FREE!