2.6 miles, 1-3 hours
Dedicated to the gods of rice and business, Fushimi-Inari is the main shrine of more than 30,000 such shrines in Japan.
To ensure happiness and success in business, many companies and individuals make annual offerings here. Their names are inscribed on the 10,000 or so vermilion-coloured Torii, lining the paths throughout this complex.
The shrine has existed since the early 8th century (711AD) but all of the buildings are more recent.The complex sits at the base of Inari-san (Mt Inari) and includes trails up the mountain to many other smaller shrines.
During "Hatsumoude", where devotees will visit a shrine during New-Year to pray for the year ahead, some 3-to-4 million people will visit Fushimi-Inari.
Fushimi-Inari is also a very popular destination for tourists, both local and foreign, and the bus/car-park soon fills up. To add a mystical atmosphere to your visit, I would suggest arriving here in the early morning or around dusk. As the complex is only a few stations out of Kyoto,you can add another destination to your days itinerary before/after your Fushimi-Inari experience.Also, allow extra time to stroll around the many souvenir shops, and sample the local delicacies like the Yakitori (grilled sparrow - a local delicacy), not to be confused with the Yakitori (grilled chicken) found in restaurants.
The 4.2km route length of this guide, is only a minor part of Fushimi-Inari, and, at an estimation, I would say there would be up to 10km of tracks criss-crossing throughout the complex.So, allow yourself a good 3-hours to stroll through, take photos/video and take-in the very beautiful scenery.
Any-time of the year is a good time to visit Fushimi-Inari. But I would recommend Spring (April/May), so as to experience "Cherry Blossom" season, or Autumn (October/November) for the many colours that will be abound at this time of year.
There are plenty of stores in the area, between the rail-stations and the complex, to purchase something to eat & drink. At the summit there is a Japanese Tea-House and a seating area which gives you great-views over the Southern Suburbs of Kyoto City.I would recommend a picnic here before you continue.Also, while here, look-out for the intimate grotto with a small waterfall.
Access, by rail, would be by J.R.Nara Line Inari Station, or Keihan Main Line Fushimi-Inari Station. Both stations are a 10-minute ride from Kyoto.