(To start this tour of Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari Shrine from the beginning, click here.)
The walk to the summit of Inariyama (Mount Inari) takes between 45 minutes and 2 hours, depending on your personal fitness, pace, and whether or not you choose to stop for lunch or tea along the way.
After walking up many flights of evenly spaced stone stairs, visitors finally reach the summit.
Don’t worry about missing it – the markers let you know.
Like many of the sub-shrines and stations along the way, the summit features a number of places where worshippers can leave offerings (like the small red torii, which are normally inscribed with the donor’s name and sometimes a prayer or request for Inari’s aid):
or light candles:
The large summit altar features a sacred stone crowned with a tasseled rope–a familiar sight at Shintō shrines. (Out of respect for the shrine and Shintō practitioners, I don’t post photographs of the sacred stones behind the altars at major shrines–if you want to see them, visit the shrine–it’s a better experience in person anyway.)
After spending a few minutes atop the mountain, it was time to head back down.
The trip takes only 30-45 minutes, moving quickly (a little longer if you need to take it slow), but don’t rush the trip. The mountain is beautiful in both directions.
Most of the people I talk with say “Fushimi Inari changed me” – though many find it difficult to express exactly how. I understand, because I had the same experience the first time I visited (and every visit since).
The peaceful, powerful beauty of Fushimi Inari gets inside you; visitors are often sorry to leave, and eager to return.
I know I’ll be back at the earliest opportunity – and if you find yourself in Japan, I hope you take the time to visit, too.