Five Reasons Why You Should Visit Fushimi Inari Taisha At Night
So you’ve made it to Japan; you’ve seen the bright lights of Tokyo, and now you’re in Kyoto, hoping for that traditional and tranquil experience you image the old capitol to be. But what’s that? Tourists? Oh no. Everyone had the same idea and now your tranquil experience has become one more chaotic than Sonic’s Emeralds. Great.
Tourists. Are. Everywhere.
With Kyoto being the previous capitol of Japan for over 1000 years, and retaining a more traditional feel than Tokyo, it’s no wonder that it’s become a hotspot for both foreign and Japanese tourists alike. Kyoto is known as, and still remains, Japan's cultural centre. So much so that the government of Japan is relocating the Agency for Cultural Affairs to Kyoto in 2021.
But this celebration of culture comes at a cost; tourism. Over 50 million tourists a year have visited Kyoto in the past five years (source), which is a lot of people. Overcrowding is one of the main complaints which people have when visiting Kyoto.
One of the most crowded shrines which will be on your list will be Fushimi Inari Taisha.
Fushimi Inari Taisha
With 10,000 vermilion torii gateways leading up Mount Inari, it’s no wonder that it’s a tourist hotspot and a must-visit when in Kyoto.
That lies the problem; it’s not just on your itinerary. It’s on a lot of other people’s too. There are almost always crowds of tourists hoping to shoot scenic photos. So what do you do? Join the crowd and try to enjoy the surroundings whilst not stepping on a tourists backpack as they stop traffic for that perfect shot? Or perhaps there’s another way; how about a visit at night, when all of the crowd has gone home. Not convinced, here are my reasons for visiting Fushimi Inari Taisha at night.
Why you should visit Fushimi Inari Taisha at night
Reason One: No Crowds
You heard me right, no crowds, no queues, no noise. Bliss. Shrines are spiritual places, and best enjoyed in the quiet of the night. So beautiful.
Reason Two: You Can Follow Your Own Path
You’re free to walk around taking in the wonders that are the torii gates. Aren’t they spectacular?
Reason Three: Take as Much Time as you need
There’s no need to rush and follow the flow of the crowd at night. Want to study each torri gate in great detail? Great! Here’s a fun fact: Did you know that many businesses and celebrities have donated money to have their names on the gates? A small torii gate costs 400,000 yen ($6000), with the larger torii gates costing over 1 million yen ($9000). So fancy practising your Kanji reading abilities reading who donated which gate, go nuts! I won’t judge, nor will the crowd of people behind you, as there won’t be a crowd! Win win.
Reason Four: Get Creative!
What do 10,000 torri gates, no crowds and artificial lamps create? Unique photo opportunities! No need to be an expert. Just let your inner creativity flow and get snapping.
Reason Five: Spend some time with Kitsune, the messengers of the Inari Shrine
Kitsune, or foxes are famously messengers for the gods. With Inari being the God of Rice, you’ll often see fox statues holding grains of rice in their mouths as offerings. There are many Kitsune Statues in the Fushimi Inari Taisha, can you find them all?
Now of course, coming to the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine at night comes with it’s own risk; we arrived at around midnight, and there was no one around. So bare that in mind, if an accident occurs, then it’s likely there will be no one around to help.
There are also wild animals in the surrounding forest; There are signs for wild boar, which can be aggressive. So best not go wandering into the unlit areas.
I wouldn’t recommend walking up the mountain that late at night either; if the thought of angry wild boars or no one being able to hear you scream if you break your leg didn’t put you off, then perhaps nothing will. Just use common sense in these kinds of situations and you’ll be fine. if you still would like to beat the crowds to the top of the mountain, how about early morning or just after dusk? There will be a lot less people and the risk will be lower. Plus you’ll get to view an amazing sunrise from the top.
Remember, safety first. Photo opportunities second.
So that’s all for now folks,
I’ve been Wedy Jones.
Keep it Real, Keep it Nippon.
Address: 〒612-0882, Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Fushimi-ku, 68 Fukakusa Yabunouchicho (Open in Maps)
Opening Times: N/A, stalls open 9:00-17:00
Entrance Fee: Free
Inari Station (3 mins walk)